Category Archives: Mental Health

This Is What Depression Can Look Like

Depression is real. Especially in 2020. This may seem odd that I am breaking my [long] blogging hiatus with such a serious post, however I think it’s so important that people know they are not alone.

A month ago, I shared some of my story with depression this year on my social media. I had someone reach out to me and express that they had no idea I was struggling because I always seemed fine around them. Which is understandable, as all the photos in this post were taken at my lowest point.

I share this because I think it’s important that people know that depression looks different for every person. Everyone handles their depression in different ways and it’s so important that we have empathy and care for others. Someone may be really good at putting on a smile or doing “regular” activities but inside they are barely getting by. At least this was my experience. 

It’s more than having a few bad days. It’s a diagnosable mental illness with changes in mood, behaviors and thoughts over a period of time. Every person is different and will experience it with different intensities or symptoms. The brain actually changes both physically and chemically when someone is experiencing depression. Everything from relationships to work and productivity are effected by depression.

According to Mayo Clinic, here are common symptoms of depression:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

If you are experiencing depression, please make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible! If you have a loved and you’re noticing some of these symptoms, I’d encourage you to reach out to them and genuinely check in on them consistently. Encourage them to seek out medical advice from their doctor. Sometimes people on the outside can notice changes before the person realizes there’s a problem. Often, my husband will notice my agitation before I recognize I’m agitated.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. I think it’s important to distinguish that depression does not necessarily mean suicidal. I have struggled with depression for 20 years and have had suicidal thoughts twice in that time. Just because you may not be experiencing these thoughts does not mean you shouldn’t seek medical attention. However, suicidal thoughts or ideation can come on suddenly so I think it’s important to address.

The first time I experienced those thoughts was about 4 or 5 years ago and my husband and I suffered for the most part privately. I did not have a good psychiatrist at the time and he did not take me seriously. Two months ago, I experienced the hopelessness again and this time I was extremely grateful for my family and my counselor who took the situation very seriously and advocated for me. Our support system was much greater. 

The lies that I was a detriment to my family and that I was never going to get better reverberated through my whole being. The hard part of depression is that it’s often not possible to think logically or rationally. Physically and mentally it may not be possible, which is why having a true support system is so important.

If you are experiencing any of these thoughts or emotions, TELL SOMEONE. Do not go through this alone!

  • Call your doctor
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.

For me, swift changes in medication, supportive friends and family and consistent counseling are what got me through. 

I love the #BeThe1To campaign which encourages all of us to check in on people and ask the hard questions. Don’t be afraid to go there! 

Here are some resources that have helped me in my mental health journey:

Fully Alive by Susie Larson

Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen


Status: No Margin

No Margin :: EverydaySmallThings.comOver the last few weeks, I have been processing this concept of “margin” in my life. Actually its more than just processing, God has been hammering me with it!

You see, anxiety and a lack of margin go hand-in-hand. When I begin to notice the margin in my life narrowing, I also notice it has a direct influence on the number and severity of anxiety attacks.  

Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
Margin in motherhood. When I allow my margin to narrow my little people suffer. I am less likely to engage in play with them or read them a book. My temper is much quicker which is not enjoyable for anyone. When I have margin in my life, I find that I enjoy motherhood much more. I’m excited for the day ahead, instead of dragging along.

Recently I found myself in the grocery store, staring at the long shelves of food. Darn it, my family needed to eat…again. Wasn’t I just here last night? Yep. Yep I was. Same spot. 24 hours earlier. Staring. Trying to mentally run through all of those fabulous pins I have of meals that we love or I’d like to try. And yet, the only meal that comes to mind is chili…again. With a small sigh, my shoulders sagged and I felt stuck. This is another result of having low margin in my life. Margin allows me to thoughtfully plan out meals for our family. Margin allows me to wisely stick to our food budget.

Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
Margin in my marriage. My marriage could survive in low margin, but I want it to thrive. I want to be an active partner with my husband in life and ministry, but right now its taking a lot of work to be more than passing ships in the night. I’m a better mom if I’m a better wife to my husband first. If I’m being honest, in the last four months, I find myself being Daycare Owner first, Mom second, Wife third. The kids’ needs are screaming at me (literally screaming sometimes). Matt doesn’t need me to feed, bathe, change or hold him.
Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
Margin in my faith and ministry. Sadly, what little time I was finding in the last few months with God, has become nothing. I’ll be honest, yesterday was the first time in eight weeks that I even opened my Bible. I’m empty. And you can’t (or shouldn’t) serve out of your emptiness. Romans 15:13 (The Message) says, “May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” I can’t be filled with “the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit” without spending quality time with my Savior.
Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
Margin for me. Personal care is an important part of life, but especially for those who struggle with depression and anxiety. Self care is one of the best tools we have. Often, moms put off taking care of themselves because they feel like they need to put their family first. But taking care of yourself is taking care of your family!
Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
So, how does one start getting more margin? I don’t know the answer for everyone, but for me, it’s learning to say “No” and choosing to prioritize. Recognizing the places I can let go and others I need to engage. For instance, I haven’t blogged in a few weeks. I tend to blog in the evening and I found I needed that time to focus on my family.
So where are you at with margin in your own life? What are ways you protect your margin? Do you need to find more “white space” in your life?

To The Mom Whose Family Doesn’t Look Like What She Imagined

To The Mom Whose Family Doesn't Look Like She Imagined |

To The Mom Whose Family Doesn't Look Like She Imagined | EverydaySmallThings.comEver since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to be a mom.  
I also knew I wanted a lot of kids. Like. A loooot. Mothering instincts have always come naturally to me. Younger children were drawn to me and I enjoyed babysitting. In fact, I took babysitting so seriously that I created a “Babysitting Kit” full of fun activities!

I am the oldest of 5 children. Hustle and bustle was the name of the game in my house growing up. Dinner was loud, but fun. There was never a lack of playmates. I love looking at family photos and seeing how large my family is.

In college, I remember telling a friend that I wanted 15 kids. I was only half-joking. When Matt and I started dating, children were an important part of the conversation. I wanted a large family and Matt understood my dream.

Four years into marriage I had a baby.

Holy moly was my world turned upside down.

When she was 4 months old, I returned to work and that is when I began recognizing that I am a medium-low capacity momma. Capacity is the physical and emotional energy you have. It also may indicate how many balls you can juggle before it’s too much. By the end of the work day, there was hardly anything left for my little family.

When Rilyn was an active 23 month old, I gave birth to Landon. From the beginning, he had issues nursing and it didn’t help that Rilyn knew she could get away with anything when mommy was trying to nurse. At 4 months old he fell below his birth weight and was labeled “failure to thrive”. Between this and the toll pregnancy had on my hormones, I found myself deep into the baby blues.  So much so, that it took me nearly two years and trying different medications before my emotional and mental health was normal again.

Walking through that tough season was incredibly hard on my marriage and my motherhood. I am so grateful to have had a husband who stood by my side through the ups and downs. He understood this was not normal for me and fought for me and our family when I couldn’t.

Because of all of this and after a lot of prayer, Matt and I made the decision that, at least for the foreseeable future, we will not be adding to our family via pregnancy.

Enter grief for the loss of a dream.

Experiencing the loss of your family dream can look a lot of different ways. Maybe it was the dream of one boy and one girl and three boys later, you’ve decided not to try a fourth time for that girl. Maybe like me, for unforeseen personal reasons, you have made the choice not to get pregnant again.  Or maybe you’ve experienced infertility or the unimaginable loss of a child.

It’s ok to grieve the family you always dreamt of.

While I know and trust that we have made the right decision for our family, I have still had to grieve the loss of what I always dreamed my family would look like. When we make a decision that is best for our family, it does not take away the loss of our dreams. So you and I have to allow ourselves to grieve but also not lose out on the moment of now. We can’t let what we don’t have cripple us or define us.

Just yesterday, I was going between anger with God and grief yet again as a friend with 6 children posted family photos. This is what I dreamed my family would look like. While it could be easy to look at another mom with more children and feel inadequate,  I can’t allow Satan to steal away the joy of my family and you can’t either.  Regardless of whether your tendency is to shut down emotionally or dwell in your emotions, you can’t fall into the trap of not being the woman your family needs while walking through the grief.  

Recently, the longing and grief were weighing heavily on me and I finally shared what was on my heart with a friend of mine. Wouldn’t you know, I heard the words, “Me too!” What a reminder that none of us are alone in this journey of motherhood. There are other moms who may have a different story, but understand the emotions.

Better Together | EverydaySmallThings.comIn our book, Better Together, my mom writes, “Sometimes just having someone to listen can make all the difference in the world. Most women long to be heard more than to have their problems fixed. When we can be a safe person for a friend to be real and raw without judgment, we give them an incredible gift.”

Caring for others allows us to more easily share with others because we know that we all go through hard times. Taking off our masks is an important part of taking friendship to a deeper level.

So here I am, mask removed. Letting you know, “Me too!”

Managing Mommy Melancholy

Managing Mommy Melancholy |

10 Questions Moms Can Ask As the weather has become cooler and it is getting darker earlier, my children have become moody and whiney.  It’s been a long week of managing fights over toys and whether or not a sibling is looking at the other one.  Towards the end of the week, I realized my children’s attitudes weren’t necessarily reflecting the weather…they were reflecting me.

Often, moms find ourselves on the back burner.  It’s not necessarily on purpose, but we find it easiest to take care of everyone else before we realize that we are on empty and ready to throw in the towel.  To quote an amazing woman (my mom), “Taking care of ourselves, IS taking care of our families.”

Adapted from this post.

Managing Mommy Melancholy