My Health & Fitness Journey
I gave birth to my son in October 2014.
Within the first few weeks of mommy-hood, I began to experience behavior and emotions that did not seem normal, although my doctor said as long as I didn’t want to harm myself or my baby, I was fine.
But I did not feel fine.
My little bundle of joy barely slept or took naps during the day for me, so I was absolutely exhausted, living off of caffeine and sugar just to function. When he would actually fall asleep, all I could do was stare up at the ceiling, unable to shut my body down to get rest. I was suffering continuously with anxiety attacks to the point of hyperventilation because I didn’t like who I was becoming. I felt out of control and miserable.
Being a woman of prayer, there was no way I could be a victim of postpartum depression, right?
I’m a Christian and I know that Jesus died so that I could walk in TOTAL freedom from all sin, sickness, and disease, I thought.
I would pray and pray and pray for God to heal me. I felt like this was a spiritual battle and I was totally losing. My spirit felt utterly depleted.
As the months went by, the anxiety and emotional outbursts somewhat seemed to fade, but then I started experiencing even more random physical symptoms such as oral thrush, ringing in my ears, heartburn, swelling in my throat, restless legs, and insomnia.
It was obvious that my body didn’t have what it needed to fight off these symptoms, and medication to just quiet the symptoms and not eliminate the root cause, for me, was a last resort. Out of curiosity and desperation, I began researching what was physically going on in my body. This was the unhealthiest I had ever felt in my whole life and the heaviest I had ever weighed, so I knew that I needed to make some serious changes, especially regarding my eating habits and stress triggers. I believe in prayer, but sometimes there is more going on in the natural realm that we can have control over, with God’s wisdom and provision.
I realized that this battle going on inside of me and all around me could not be compartmentalized. This wasn’t just spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical. In other words, I wasn’t just spiritually, emotionally, mentally, or physically unhealthy; It was absolutely everything combined! Knowing that the Creator of the Universe created me spirit, soul, and body, I couldn’t just focus on the wellness and wholeness of one area. All of me needed healing, and I was ready to partner with the Lord to see restoration unfold.
Like I said, God created us body, soul, and I spirit:
- We are a spirit
- We possess a soul
- We live in a body
This means that we are a tri-part being.
We discover this truth in 1 Thessalonians 5:
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, ESV).
God cares about our whole being, and all of it connects together. How we take care of ourselves, affects our overall health. We have to take responsibility in all three areas: spirit, soul, and body, and trust that God will strengthen us and give us the wisdom on how to take each step along this journey to see total wholeness.
In Summer 2015, I began my health and fitness journey. I began juicing fruits and veggies in the morning and making sure I was getting the proper nutrients from REAL food and taking supplements when necessary. I cut out sugar and processed foods, began drinking only water and occasionally herbal teas, and slowly but surely my addiction to sugary caffeine drinks was completely gone.
I started working out regularly at home and lifting weights through Beach Body‘s workout programs and other helpful exercises. Before I knew it, the number on the scale (which isn’t always the problem, but for me it was) was dropping and I was fitting into clothes that were sizes smaller than even my pre-baby clothes! If that wasn’t awesome enough, my anxiety and panic attacks disappeared, along with those weird physical symptoms like oral thrush and ringing in my ears.
I still am not where I want to be completely regarding my overall health and wellness, but I am definitely headed in the right direction! I finally feel like I’m glorifying God in my body!
Also, check out this other great resource for more tips on health and wellness! Remember, to take care of the body God gave you!
Special Delivery Part 2: My Birth Story
March 12, 2018
I wrote about my birthing experiencing with my son, Isaiah, just two weeks after he was born. He wasn’t a great sleeper (and almost 3.5 years later, we occasionally have our issues…Lord, thank You for Your grace!), so I found myself awake all through the night…a lot. I must have had trouble falling back asleep the night I wrote our story of his birth. Sleepless baby and sleepless momma. Man, those were some tough nights. But we survived, thank You Jesus!
Now with my second son, James, it has taken me over a month to sit down and write out our story of his birth. It must be because we actually sleep at night! Even with the time change last night, he STILL slept for 6.5 hours straight! He is my little sleeper…praise the Lord!
God has been so incredibly faithful to us with Jameson.
From the moment my water broke to these last several weeks with him finally here with us.
His grace, so incredibly tangible.
For the whole pregnancy, I was fully mentally prepared to hold our new precious baby boy in my arms around 38 weeks, since that is when his older brother graced us with his unexpected presence.
But to be completely honest with you, that didn’t happen, and the last month was extremely stressful, confusing, and exhausting.
I cried. A lot. I was moody. A lot. I was tired. A lot.
I started to have time-able/ pattern-forming contractions around 37 weeks along with baby boy #2; I was getting even more anxious for that special day to come when we would finally meet our newest blessing.
But that cycle of “fake outs” lasted for over 3 weeks. God bless my poor husband! I never really knew when it was “go time…”
…until a little after 6am on February 7th, 2018 (the day after my due date), just as Paul was headed out the door for work telling me to keep him updated, I gasped as my water broke while lounging on the couch!
No more guessing if it was “go time!” Ha! Grace! Paul called my mom to let her know the news because she offered to drive over an hour and a half to come watch little man AKA Isaiah. Grace!
Because a friend of mine offered to be present at the birth to photograph the joyful day (Grace!), I hopped in the shower and got glammed up, of course! 😉
I assumed that it would be awhile before contractions began, since mine never started with Isaiah after my water broke with him…Pitocin is the devil…
…but before I could finish my shower, they started to amp up. Grace! And they were definitely the real deal this time! Yikes!
I dialed (do we still use that word for cell phones?) the on-call midwife and let her know what was going down and we decided to meet at the birth center at 8am, just in time to get stuck in rush hour morning traffic! But by the grace of God, we were able to stop by Chick-fi-la for FREE chicken biscuits for a quick breakfast (eating in between contractions that were now starting to get pretty intense) and STILL made it to the birth center on time, not having to deal much with traffic whatsoever. Grace! Grace! Grace!
We pulled into the parking lot at 8am on the dot, shortly after the midwives arrived, and made our way to the room. Less than 10 minutes later, my mom arrived to take little man to the waiting room for a bit to play with their blocks. Grace!
I was able to joke through the contractions and make the midwives laugh a few times before it was game-time, which came MUCH sooner than I had anticipated.
The contractions intensified very quickly, so much so that I didn’t even want to lie and relax in the giant Jacuzzi tub that was just filled up for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was ready to push soon and hold that precious little peanut.
Not really knowing what position would be most comfortable for me because I didn’t have much time to decide, I made my way to the bed and laid down on my left side. Paul knelt by the bedside and held my hands and I used them to brace myself through each contraction. Before they got too close together, he asked if I wanted to listen to some music on his phone. I immediately said, “The Undoing by Steffany Gretzinger.”
God’s peace filled the room. Again, I could tangibly feel God’s grace.
When I could, I sang and hummed along and looked into Paul’s eyes and told him how much I loved him. It was an absolutely beautiful moment with him, something so completely different than what we experienced with Isaiah’s birth that left us dealing with much anxiety and trauma in the weeks following.
In an instant, all of that was redeemed. Grace!
We really were such a great team together. Team Massey!
When the contractions became pretty unbearable, I found myself making an “O” sound to get through them. It really was the only thing that seemed to help me stay focused through the pain.
The midwives were so encouraging through it all, and kept reminding me that I was almost there and that I was doing such an awesome job.
It was very quickly time to push, so I made my way up to my knees and braced my arms around Paul’s shoulders. He told me later that I almost made him pass out when I accidentally had him in the sleeper hold! Hahahaha! Funny, but not funny for him, I’m sure!
Then suddenly, when I didn’t think I could take another second, at 9:40am (yes, that’s right, an hour and 40 minutes after we arrived at the birth center) they told me to pick up my baby who entered the world.
The birth center’s 1,000th birth, might I add…so cool!
“We did it, we did it!” I said with joy filling my lungs. Sooooooooooo….much GRACE!!!!!
I scooped up Mr. Jameson, discovering he had a head full of brown hair like his momma (Yay!), and said “You’re a slippery lil’ fella!” making the whole room laugh once again.
Just four hours later, were discharged from the birth center, both momma and baby healthy and thriving. It was so nice to be able to head home and start our life together as a family of 4. On the trip home, both boys were snoozing and stayed down for naps for a couple more hours for us. Grace!
A miracle, really!
The whole day was just perfect.
I’m really still in awe of it and just how good God is to us. He truly is a redeemer and a giver of good gifts.
So here I am, almost 5 weeks postpartum, and signs of postpartum depression/anxiety/rage or insomnia are no where to be found! Praise God! My milk supply has been overflowing, and we have no need of formula supplementation like we had to do with Isaiah. And thanks to an awesome lactation consultant that we saw 2 weeks postpartum, I am able to have success with breastfeeding this time around. A major answer to prayer that just ties the whole experience together with so much GRACE!
I’m so thankful for God’s grace, my friends. It is truly all-sufficient and is carrying me through this new season of motherhood in such a beautiful way. It doesn’t mean everything is easy by any means, because along with the demands and responsibilities that come with caring for a newborn, we surely have had some tough toddler days as Isaiah goes through some mega emotional development right now (ah meltdowns!), but God’s grace is my ever-present help to see me through it all.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).
And this momma will gladly boast in my frailty because Jesus’ gracious strength is so much better than my own.
Expecting: What will be birthed through me in 2018?
January 5, 2018
January 4th, 2018.
4 days into the new year. How’s 2018 going so far for you?
For me, it seems like I am finally finding time to write down goals/dreams and be still to listen with more clarity to what God wants to do in and through me this year.
Some people use the end of the year to reflect upon the past year and look forward to what is ahead when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.
I’d like to say that I had ample time to do some mega reflecting, soul searching, and waiting on the Lord for direction and vision for 2018 at the end of December, but like so many other people because of the rush of the holiday season, my life was pretty full, frantic, and fast-paced for much of the month of December.
Aside from birthday celebrations, my wedding anniversary, Christmas, and New Years, (and oh yeah, GROWING A HUMAN!), December truly was just the culmination of much hard work for probably 6 months, especially regarding completing tons of writing deadlines, serving on a team at the Gateway House of Prayer as a singer, and one specific Kingdom assignment- writing, producing, and directing a Christmas production for my church! Although that assignment is now complete, I know there is still much Kingdom work to do that God is calling me to!
All of this was a huge change of pace for me, considering I was in a “season of rest” and “pressing pause” on many responsibilities for like…um…2.5 years!
Instead of merely reflecting on 2017, God really has been highlighting a period of time where He had to intervene before the train completely derailed, and I ended up in a padded room somewhere.
No, instead of focusing on 2017, I feel like I need to reflect and give God glory for this last extended season of the soul because I am truly no longer the same woman.
I sit here and also reflect upon the fact that I am about to give birth to my second child within the next month, after months and months of growth and development of a life inside of me, experiencing a change in my appetite and a major change in the way I walk.
Just like my second baby boy that is about to be born soon, I believe God is going to “birth” something through me this year that has taken more preparation, growth, and change in me than a mere 40 weeks, I can tell you that much…how about a spiritual pregnancy that has probably lasted over 3 years!
Ironically enough, all of this preparation, growth, and change in appetite and change in my walk started when my son was born, on October 11th, 2014- the day I became a mom.
Because I thought that I could go on with “life as usual,” I was seriously shaken by the fact that life would never be the same, that I would never be the same.
Things that I thought I had overcome reared its ugly head and began taunting me.
Rejection. Depression. Anxiety. Fits of anger and rage.
Just a few months into motherhood, I heard God whisper that I needed to learn how to “just be,” but it was so completely foreign to me that I just kept trying to run full speed ahead (especially regarding the many leadership hats I wore at my church, my writing ministry, and the release and promotion of my book in 2015- radio and TV interviews and networking with ministry leaders filling up my schedule and my focus). I was seriously running on fumes from utter stress and mega sleep deprivation (because my son refused to sleep until I was holding him or laying next to him), and then trying to get high off of the fumes from my accomplishments and productivity, thinking that (and coffee) would fix everything.
It all caught up to me, and I started to severely struggle in my physical and mental health in ways that I never had before.
More anxiety. More depression. More panic attacks. Weird physical symptoms like restless leg syndrome, insomnia, chronic ulcers in my mouth, and eventually an irregular cycle that would lead to a chemical pregnancy later on.
I felt like the air was being sucked from my lungs.
I felt so completely broken, but I would have no choice but to continue to stand on the promise that God would bring restoration to my life!
Little did I know that I wouldn’t see that promise start to come to fruition for another 2 years…in 2017!
Within that span of time, God told us to sell our house and move back to the county, step down from ALL leadership at our church home of 4.5 years and transition us and prepare our hearts into searching for a new church home (which all sadly came with much wounds from rejection and abandonment from ministry friends- but praise be to God for healing this area of our hearts over time), all while completely deconstructing every single Christian ideology/theology Paul and I stood upon in our marriage. We truly learned (and are continuing to learn) why we believed what we believed for the first time in either of our lives, immersing ourselves in the scriptures for ourselves and not clinging to what our upbringing, our pastor, or TV preacher told us was truth.
We became like the Bereans discussed in Acts 17:
The brothers[b] immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (10-11, ESV).
In January 2016, after months of wrestling with all of these changes and realizing many doors were going to stay closed for me for a long time, I finally embraced the call the “just be” and rest. I finally surrendered to God as He stripped me of any title that I tried to find my identity in.
So much happened in me from January 2016 into Spring 2017. I learned how to simply be “Beloved” and “Daughter,” and learned how to find my rest in God alone.
It was from that place of rest that I would eventually find healing and restoration- physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually- truly learning how to become a vessel for God’s glory- spirit, soul, and body.
That process did not come without resistance and struggle though, and there would be countless opportunities to become discouraged, as we began dealing with Isaiah’s nightly wakings again- every night, 3-5 times a night for almost six months, all while I was trying to serve on a night-watch prayer team for two 10 week terms back to back, and hold down a part-time retail job in customer service at the height of the holiday season. Yep, all of that will definitely try your faith!
But we held onto HOPE the best we could!
Eventually, we experienced such great breakthrough with Isaiah’s sleep because of our church community’s willingness to stand with us in intense prayer…for that I will be forever thankful!
Then on Resurrection Sunday 2017, I realized God had been so faithful to bring restoration and resurrection life in so many areas of my life. That morning, one of my pastors approached me during soundcheck on my first Sunday leading worship at our new church home (after not standing in that role for a year and a half by that point) and told me that the Lord had put me on his heart recently during prayer and kept hearing the word “restoration.”
“Does that mean anything to you?” he asked.
Yes, yes it did! He was restoring my joy again, just like He promised!
And the restoration continued throughout 2017:
- Where we had issues conceiving, I found out I was pregnant shortly after Mother’s Day. Timely… 🙂
- God restored my writing and teaching ministry- countless articles written, reaching and encouraging readers from all over the globe that email me constantly, more networking connections made and freelance job opportunities, and being able to continue to lead a group of precious women through the Bible at Diane’s House (Teen Challenge St. Louis).
- God restored and breathed new life into my creative outlets with singing at the House of Prayer here in St. Louis and brought theater back into my life with the assignment of writing and directing the Christmas production.
- God restored the assignment of testifying for Him and sharing more about my book with my church community where my book is given out to visitors for free! More reached for Christ!
- God restored and strengthened relationship after relationship, bringing genuine friendship into my life, as we learned how to encourage and pray for each other in our struggles and trials. I have some of the closest relationships with godly women in my life right now- it seriously overwhelms me with so much JOY to even think about it! An answer to a prayer that I have believed and ask for MANY YEARS!
- God restored and strengthened my marriage on such a deep level as we survived the first 3 years as parents and learned how to always fight to hang onto loving and forgiving each other, no matter how difficult it may get. I don’t know where I would be without the support of my best friend who works so incredibly hard for our family (yay for TWO promotions in ONE YEAR!). Super huuuuuuuuubbbbbssss!!
- God even restored and is restoring relationships within my family that I thought would be impossible to ever see reconciliation.
For over 2 years, all I knew to do was to keep breathing, even though I had to fight for air so many times.
But God gave me my breathe back. The air is back in my lungs, and I can run without growing weary because of how He has taught me to wait and rest upon Him (Isaiah 40: 28-31), one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn to date, let me tell you!
So what does all of this mean for me for 2018? What is going to be birthed through me this year?
Well aside from another baby boy, obviously, I don’t know exactly what will all transpire this year, but I can tell you that I am expectant!
The Lord has already been giving me specific instructions as to what He wants me to focus on this year as He strengthens me and gives me courage to face all that is ahead in this new year and new season (STRENGTH and COURAGE being my words for 2018).
I feel like since 2017 gave me the breath back in my lungs, I have gained the momentum to hit the ground running into 2018. I’m starting this year in wholeness, not brokenness.
Some of you had a really difficult 2017, experiencing so many trials, storms, disappointments, and setbacks. Feeling broken and bruised, your faith really took a beating.
That wasn’t really the case for me this last year.
I don’t share that to rub it in your face, beloved. My faith has definitely taken a beating in the past, and I have experienced those times of trials and storms and disappointments just like what I shared with you in this blog post and through so many other blog posts I have written over the last three years on this journey to restoration.
Those storms, trials, and setbacks are not the end of your story, my friends! Just like they were not the end of mine!
Hope is on the way! Joy is on the way! Peace that passes all understanding is on the way! No matter what, God has good in store for you! Don’t give up, don’t give in! He’s going to turn it all around…just wait and see! He is so incredibly faithful!
I pray that this year, I will be able to continue to lead and encourage many more people as the Lord infuses me with His strength and courage! I want to help you get your breath back so I can see you run alongside of me and help others on their journey to complete wholeness, as we learn to give God all the glory with every fiber of our being!
Blessings to you in this new year! Expect your miracle…expect your breakthrough…expect restoration and healing! Expect, expect, expect!
Bearing Lasting Fruit
December 14, 2017
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you” (John 15:16).
In the Spring through the Fall seasons, my husband and I enjoy spending our Saturday mornings taking our son to the local farmer’s market. The whole family truly does try our best to incorporate fruit and veggies in our diet, and this farmer’s market gives us ample options to pack our fridge with fresh produce. During the winter months, the market is closed, so thankfully, we can still purchase our produce at the local grocery store, but the taste of the fruit and veggies at this farmer’s market is just a little fresher in my opinion. Needless to say, I eagerly await the Springtime to get back to our beloved farmer’s market trips.
In John 15, Jesus tells us how he longs for us to bear spiritual fruit. But what happens to our fruit production when we reach a seemingly spiritually barren place, a “winter” season? We will all face “winter” seasons in our lives, but we should never want to stay there or make it a continuous cycle. Difficult seasons in life can actually be a time of growth and maturity in the Lord. In the natural, trees’ roots actually grow down deeper into the earth in the winter time.
If we don’t stay rooted and grounded in God (who is love), we lose our sustaining life and are prone to depression. Instead of yielded to depression, we need to allow our roots in Jesus grow deeper and deeper. We use those times of trial to draw closer to the Lord and drink deep of His goodness and faithfulness. During these dark times, the enemy wants you to dry up and rot- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We must remain connected to our life-source, Jesus, the Vine.
Over the course of my life, I have experienced some pretty harsh winter seasons.
Thankfully, I had established a solid “root-system” in the Lord and also surrounded myself with some mighty “oaks” of righteous people. If we are isolated during these times, and are not taking in the proper nutrients from God’s Word, we are in trouble. Being around other trees or fruit bearers is crucial to sustain spiritual health. Their root systems can get “nutrients” to us and their fruit can “feed” us when we are struggling to hang onto the Vine.
No matter our circumstances, we must allow our fruit to ripen or mature, and even when it may seem hopeless, if you are abiding in Jesus, the Vine, you will see abundance once again. Be grateful for the little fruit you do have, but don’t stay there, let the Vine-dresser care for you. He chose you and longs for you to bear fruit, just continue to abide in Him!
Thank You, Lord, for remaining with me through all seasons of my life, even the difficult ones. Help me to continue to abide in the Vine, Christ Jesus, so that I can bear lasting fruit all for Your glory!
Deeper Walk: Galatians 5:22-23
Guest Post- 5 Bible Verses When You Feel Stressed
July 31, 2017
A few weeks ago, Marcus from Psysci.co, reached out to me and asked if he would be able to share some encouragement on emilyrosemassey.com for my readers, especially regarding his expertise in psychology. He decided to write a blog about 5 Bible verses when you are feeling stressed out. Please welcome Marcus!
Whether you consider yourself to be religious or not, Bible verses hold basic humanistic truths that apply to various situations. The following Bible verses are especially comforting in times of stress and remind us that being anxious and worrying about things will do nothing to put you in a better state mentally, physically or spiritually.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:6-7, ESV]
This verse is a constant reminder that the peace of God is freely accessible to everyone and can be so easily obtained through a simple prayer devoting your worries to God. To let your requests be made known to God through thanksgiving is a way to humble yourself and realize that God is bigger than any stressful situation that you might be going through. Keeping a gratitude journal is also a great exercise to help you reflect on the things in your life for which you are thankful.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” [Psalm 55:22, ESV]
By casting your burden on the Lord, you are transferring anxiety, stress and worry from the shoulders of a mere mortal to the hand of God that can hold an infinite amount of burdens without beckoning under the weight.
“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” [Psalm 34:17-19, ESV]
The righteous are afflicted – this notion is not uncommon to the world in which we live. In fact, it forms the basis of every good versus evil battle that is represented in the movies we watch, the books we read, the conversations we have and even the relationships we form with those around us. Heartbreak, affliction, sadness, hurt and other stress-inducing emotions are impartial in the sense that everyone will experience these at some point throughout their lives. This Bible verse offers a glimmer of hope and the promise of the ultimate hero to save us when we are in distress, all through God’s great grace and mercy.
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” [Isaiah 40:30-31, ESV]
Often, a state of distress and worry will urge an unhealthy desire to intervene in situations out of our own strength with disastrous results. Patience is a virtue for a reason and by devoting time to praying and hearing God’s voice and His desire for you to be peaceful and achieve success in whatever you do, you are sure to be renewed in spirit. God’s divine intervention is on His perfect timing, not yours – distract yourself from stress by doing exercise, meditating or doing something that you enjoy and trust that God will bring you a new sense of calm.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” [Matthew 6:34, ESV]
This last Bible verse speaks directly to the crux of stressful situations. There will always be something to worry about but by worrying, you are not adding a single moment to your life – in fact, you’re doing the opposite! The articles found here, here and here detail the effects of stress and worry on both your physical and mental states of health. Focus on one thing at a time to avoid reaching a point of breakdown and take time in your day to address the problems that continually cause stress and anxiety. Be confident in your ability to overcome and remind yourself of these inspiring Bible verses whenever you are stressed.
About the Author: Marcus has a degree in psychology, a master’s degree in health psychology and has worked within the NHS as well as private organisations. Marcus started psysci a psychology and science blog in order to disseminate research into bitesize, meaningful and helpful resources.
Guest Post- The Connection Between Insomnia And Depression
July 5, 2017
Sarah from sleepydeep.com reached out to me a few weeks ago asking if she would be able to submit a guest blog post for emilyrosemassey.com regarding sleeping problems and depression. Since I have experiences with these issues and have shared a lot on my blog how insomnia and depression has affected my life, I was extremely excited to have Sarah share! Please welcome Sarah!
The Connection Between Insomnia And Depression
We all have had sleepless nights. We’ve all had dips in our emotional state. Insomnia and depression are different from your run of the mill all-nighter or post break up blues. They are actual psychological disorders. You may have heard that a symptom of depression is sleeping a lot, and you heard that correctly. But did you realize that there is actually a correlation between insomnia and depression?
Insomnia is a serious sleep disorder that negatively affects your life. WebMD defines insomnia as: “a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.” A study performed by the University of North Texas on the Epidemiology of insomnia, depression, and anxiety found that people with insomnia are 10x more likely to develop depression.
When you have insomnia, you might feel tired but are unable to settle down and go to sleep. Trying to sleep when you want to, but can’t, can be mind-numbingly frustrating. I personally believe it’s best to just get out of bed and do something else. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by lying in bed in the dark anyway. You might as well get up and drink some tea or read an uplifting book. Try to do a relaxing activity to get your mind off how badly you need to rest before you have to get up early the next morning.
The Vicious Cycle of Insomnia and Depression
Insomnia and depression can become a vicious cycle that is hard to break out of; each causing the effects of the other to worsen. To say that a lack of sleep can have negative effects on your mood is barely scratching the surface. Not to mention that when you have a mood disorder such as depression, this in turn, can have a negative effects on your natural sleeping rhythm.
Feeling down for a prolonged period of time can have detrimental effects on all of your daily activities. An unfortunate symptom of depression causes us to have racing negative thoughts. These are bombarding us constantly at night while we’re trying to lay down and fall asleep. Even though we’re exhausted this can severely inhibit our sleeping patterns.
Racing Thoughts Make For An Uncomfortable Bed
I know that when I went through a bout of depression a few years ago, I began to procrastinate going to bed at night. I dreaded the thought of being trapped alone with these racing thoughts in the dark quiet of my room. I would distract myself with television or play games and surf the web on my tablet before bed. The blue light emitted from these devices causes your brain to halt the process of producing melatonin, the hormone that tells your mind and body it is time to sleep.
Poor Sleep = Poor Performance
Insomnia may cause you to sleep late and miss out on the morning time; which can be a great time of day to sit in quiet meditation or a quick morning workout to get your endorphins pumping. It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you don’t get out of bed until 12 noon every day. If you are waking up too late and missing work or your appointments, this can add to the list of frustrations and grievances you have with yourself, contributing to this self-sabotaging cycle of insomnia and depression.
REM Sleep Promotes Optimal Mental Health
At night, we go through different stages of sleep, it has become common knowledge that when we dream, we are in our deepest stage of REM sleep (rapid eye movement). Anecdotally, it is believed that dreaming can help our subconscious mind deal with our daily reality, helping us to sort through some of our depression without us having to do anything at all, but simply go to sleep.
In a research study on Depression and sleep: pathophysiology and treatment, doctors found that REM sleep helps to increase your brain’s functional release of serotonin and other “feel-good” hormones. Anti-depressants are thought to work by inhibiting your brain’s serotonin reuptake receptors. So, if you can regulate your serotonin levels by getting quality deep sleep, then all the better, right?
This Too, Shall Pass
Although both depression and insomnia are serious disorders of the mind, it is helpful to note that it won’t last forever. However you choose to deal with your depression, make sure you have someone to talk to. Even if it’s just a supportive internet forum, sharing your thoughts and feelings in a safe environment makes a huge difference. If this advice seems cliché that is because clichés, like sarcasm, have a ring of truth to them.
Disclaimer – I am not saying that if you cure your insomnia, your symptoms of depression will automatically be cured. Please make sure you always talk with your physician and therapist about new decisions, and never stop taking your medication without speaking to your doctor first.
Have you ever battled with depression or insomnia? Did you ever correlate the two together or did you, like me, believe these were separate entities? Do you think that this information will help you to manage your emotional state going forward, making high quality rest a priority?
Red Nose Day: An Opportunity to Lend to the Lord
May 23, 2017
One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord,
And He will repay him for his [l]good deed (Proverbs 19:17, NASB).
Like I talked about in my last post, Red Nose Day is quickly approaching! This campaign is such a great opportunity as believers to support a cause that is so near to the Lord’s heart, as we find in Proverbs 19, being gracious and lending a hand to the poor and needy, not for our name’s sake but for His.
The organization behind Red Nose Day is Comic Relief Inc. Although Comic Relief is not a faith-based organization, plenty of faith-based and Christian organizations are partnering with them, longing to do their part to see child poverty erased. Comic Relief’s strategy to make this goal a reality is to provide grants to organizations that keep children healthy, safe and educated in the USA and around the world such as Save the Children, Boys & Girls Club, and Children’s Health Fund.
I had the privilege of chatting with Comic Relief’s Vice President of Grants and Philanthropy in the United States, Rick Scott, last week. I was able to hear a little more about his journey with the organization, which started in the UK over 20 years ago, and his mission to see Red Nose Day expand in the US.
Since Red Nose Day launched in the US in 2015, they have seen growth in the involvement and awareness by at least 60%. In Comic Relief Inc.’s first two years in the United States, they have raised over $60 million. Globally, Red Nose Day has raised over $1 billion since its launch in the UK in 1988! I love seeing that kind of money put to a great cause such as helping children!
Between the funds of the red noses that you can purchase at Walgreens or Duane Reade and the donations and grants of organizations, Comic Relief is seeing more and more people, both regular Joe’s and major influential people such as Bill Gates, join the cause behind Red Nose Day.
One of the reasons I believe Comic Relief’s clever idea behind Red Nose Day is catching momentum around the world is the mere fact that comedy is a universal language. Everyone smiles and laughs, no matter what age you are, what part of the world you are from, or how much money you have in your pocket.
“When you put on a red nose, you get a reaction (a laugh) and people want to know more,” Scott said.
You put on this red nose, the walls come down, and we can now start a conversation about the heartbeat behind “the nose,” helping children trapped in poverty.
And since we are all created in the image of God, I don’t think many can escape the great tug on your heart when you see someone in need, especially a child.
So will you join me in bringing awareness- whether that is promoting this great organization so that those who are able to give, find the perfect place for their money, or if you don’t have thousands of dollars at your disposal that you are able to donate, consider at least buying a red nose at your local Walgreens or Duaine Reade?
Consider it a loan to the Lord. It will not go unnoticed to Him.
And most importantly, don’t forget to tune in on Thursday May 25 at 8/7c for a night of Red Nose Day — only on NBC.
Here Comes the Sun
March 28, 2017
I have decided to say “No!” to depression. Not to sound too…well, depressing, but since December, I have felt its noose slowly begin to tighten around my neck, and I was passively allowing it.
I believe it was a combination of the effects of stress and bad eating choices, winter blues, extended sleep deprivation, and just lies bombarding me from the enemy. I was also in the midst of working Christmas retail chaos for the first time in my life, so I guess you could say I was a tad overwhelmed and a little disappointed with the lack of creative outlet in my life.
But the clouds are parting and I’m beginning to experience the sun again!
I have felt in my spirit for quite some time that I am approaching transition into new territory. Like I wrote in my last post, I have been holding onto that hope with all of my might. I have been in survival mode for far too long, and I am ready for my life to thrive again. And not just for me but for the sake of those God has entrusted to me and who He is now sending my way.
The Bible verse that has been on my heart lately comes from Isaiah 60:1:
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you (NKJV).
This verse is displayed in my son’s room because it is one of my favorites found in the book of Isaiah.
What it says to me is that there is an action required for me to see the glory of the Lord rise upon me and that is I MUST ARISE! I can’t just sit there passively and let the devil continue to beat me up with his stinkin’ lies! I must rise up! I must stand up and most importantly, stand upon God’s truth and promises!
*Edit 4/4/2017- Shortly after I wrote the words above, a decision was unexpectedly made for me regarding my current evening schedule. God pretty much closed a door for me in an area of my life that was causing strife, stress, and strain in my marriage. Ha! How about that alliteration for ya?!
What seemed like something the Lord had asked me to do for quite some time, turned out to be a very short season for me in the end. Eight months later (8 symbolizes “new beginnings” in the Bible), I’m finding myself facing another “new beginning” in my life. Suddenly all this unnecessary weight I was carrying has been lifted off of my shoulders, and even though I could sense God’s grace carrying me through this last season, I still feel lighter in some way.
And now that my physical circumstances have rearranged to help alleviate stress and tension, I know that I still must hold onto hope and stand upon God’s truth because the enemy isn’t going to stop his dumb tactics to steal my peace and joy. This new change will require trusting God in a greater way regarding our physical needs because it has taken some of the control out of our hands and we have no choice but to trust that God will provide no matter what.
I just love how God cares about all aspects of our life instead of just our spiritual health. He will move on our behalf so that we can experience the life Jesus died for us to have. The more we look to Him to fulfill and satisfy, the more we discover how great a Father He is to us. He never disappoints!
Even if you can’t see it, He is working behind the scenes always. Even if you don’t feel the sunshine just yet, know that the clouds are going to part. Hold on! Stand up! Trust and believe!
Holding Onto Hope
March 17, 2017
“Hold onto hope!” were some of the last few words I wrote in my journal as I reflected over my current circumstances.
I had no idea how much the word “hope” would become even more tangible to me as it has bubbled up inside of me these last few weeks while Paul and I have been discussing our future.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
Now, I understand that many Bible scholars and Bible thumpers HATE when people quote this particular verse to apply it towards any given circumstance in life. Many agree that it is widely taken out of context.
I understand that the Lord is talking to Israel through His prophet Jeremiah in this passage, and I also understand that the Israelites would have to endure seventy years of captivity in Babylon before they began to see God’s promise of a great future come to pass.
But does that mean that God’s plans towards us are not good or that we should not remain hopeful of a glorious future ahead?
Of course not!
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28, NKJV).
God’s character has not changed and He loves us just as He loves His chosen people, Israel.
Yet, we definitely need to remember that our definition of good and God’s definition of good could be two completely different things and those plans could possibly involve some suffering and challenges on our way to that glorious future.
And the Lord knows Paul and I have endured some of those challenges and suffering over the last few years that have tested our faith and shaken our hope in the Lord’s promises to us, especially as it concerns our desire for debt freedom- a dream we have had since very early on in our marriage, which has always been accompanied by very limited time together from all of the jobs we have had to take on to see that dream become a reality.
Although those difficult and sometimes painful experiences seem to have loomed over our heads these last two years, they have most definitely become more intensified these last six months or so.
Our son Isaiah has always seemed to have sleeping issues since he was born, but in late September until early February, he was waking up every single night (no exaggeration), multiple times, into the early morning hours. This just so happened to be around the same time I started my new part-time job in retail where for almost three months (well over 20 hours a week) I wouldn’t get home until close to one o’clock in the morning (thanks to those lovely extended holiday hours). All I wanted to do was sleep during the day, and I dreaded having to do it all over again that night, not to mention hating all the time I was missing out on with my family and friends on the weekends as well.
I didn’t know how quickly this would all catch up to me- my health definitely took a turn for the worse, which was difficult for me to experience since I was in the best shape of my life after working out for an entire year straight, eating clean, and taking supplements. But in December, I began experiencing severe bloating, fatigue, and issues with my menstrual cycle that culminated in a chemical pregnancy, which is a type of early miscarriage, because my hormones were extremely imbalanced from all of the added stress. I was having panic attacks in the middle of the night and arguments increased between Paul and I because of the sleep deprivation and utter exhaustion from dealing with a child who would inconsolably scream for hours through the night. Did I mention we live in an apartment complex? I’m sure our neighbors just adore us. 🙂
But thanks be to God…and to friends who have been praying for us continually!
We have seen great improvement in Isaiah’s sleep and in my health this last month! I have had no choice but to hold onto hope. I have had no choice but to fight to hold onto my peace and joy and to fight for my marriage.
I’ve held onto it all with a death-grip, really.
I refuse to sink. I refuse to let the enemy win because frankly, he’s a loser and has already lost the battle.
My Jesus has already won the war!
I know this sounds kinda cheesy, but it has such a deep truth:
I don’t know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future.
God does.I will hold onto the hope that God is holding onto me. Click To Tweet
Whatever you are facing today, know that God is holding you. He’s got this and He’s not going to let you down. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) and His plans are greater than you could ever ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
HOLD ONTO HOPE IN JESUS TODAY, FRIEND! He is your anchor and won’t let you sink!
I’m holding on to hope
I’m holding on to grace
I’m fully letting go
I’m surrendered to Your ways
The anchor for my soul
Father You will never change
I love You, I love You
–From “Anchor” by Bethel Music
So, where have I been lately?
November 8, 2016
I know. What a great question, right?
I haven’t let so much time pass in between blog posts in years. I’m not a huge fan of seeing just one post written per month, but honestly, there really isn’t much I am able to do about that right now, in the current season I am in.
As I look through my blog posts over the last two years, especially after becoming a (stay-at-home) mom, I found myself saying “I haven’t had much mental clarity or energy” to actually get words out.
I thought that would be a hurdle I would eventually get over once my son wasn’t a newborn anymore, or when he started sleeping through the night (which is STILL an issue on and off, month after month) , or when I was finished nursing, or maybe when he was able to walk and didn’t have to be carried everywhere, or…
…well, what I found was that my “hurdles list” started to never end as my son got older.
Ad he just so happened to have turned two years old a few weeks ago on October 11th.
So, here I am, two years into this “mom-thing,” and I have come to a conclusion regarding this whole lack-of-mental-clarity-and-energy-thing:
Being a mom is hard.
I know there might be young moms out there whose child(ren) sleep(s) so well all the time, lays down for naps like clock-work without a struggle or wrestling match, do(es) not attempt to climb every piece of furniture in the entire house or knock lamps over repeatedly for sport or pull the flat screen TV down onto the floor multiple times even after getting hurt or dismantle every picture frame on shelves that you didn’t think they could reach yet or throw their entire body weight into the baby gate to craftily escape, enoy(s) car rides or trips to the grocery store and do(es) not mind one bit being buckled in a car-seat or a cart or even conveniently bundled up close to your chest in a baby carrier so you can be hands-free and perhaps be somewhat productive for a couple hours, and may even sit still and calmly while you have coffee or lunch with a friend just to indulge in a little adult conversation and take a break from listening to Baby Einstein, Barney, or Toy Story for the Ten ba-jillionith time.
If you cannot tell, my child LOVES doing or not doing all of those things and quite consistently, might I add.
I, of course, say all of that in fun, but in all honesty, my son is such an intensely strong-willed and energetic boy. I know I am utterly blessed to have such a healthy, strong, and smart little boy in my life, who is honestly such a sweetheart and loves his mama something fierce, but this mama gets tired some days…
…well, most days.
And for the last two months, I have also added a part-time job to the mix in the evenings and weekends, so I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself for not staying on top of my blogging game.
With all of that said, I have noticed how much I have needed an outlet to express myself and perhaps externally process the stress and tension created from all of this constant demand for mental and physical stamina.
This constant go, go, go and lack of uninterrupted sleep for two years straight has had an effect on my health, and I now have to pay close attention to what I am fueling my body with to make sure I am getting the proper nutrients for these taxing days. I’m very thankful for the revelation about the importance of my health and fitness and for the wisdom God has given me to learn how to take care of my body and soul, and most importantly, my spirit.
I am also grateful that I’m definitely not where I used to be regarding my health and fitness, but it is an ongoing journey that has become a lifestyle that I plan on continuing for the rest of my days here on earth. He created us body, soul, and spirit and all of us matters to Him.
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if it was not for the grace of God I don’t think I would be able to manage the overwhelming amount of stress that I encounter on a day to day basis.
Seriously, I don’t know what people do without Jesus.
That is Who I choose to lean on when the days get long and the road gets rough, and that will never change.
And that’s where I have been and where I am at right now.
I need Jesus. Every hour I need Jesus.
Father, I take this moment to lift up those super-mommas out there who, like me, are feeling a bit overwhelmed. I pray that they can sense Your nearness, that Your peace would surround them, and that Your all-sufficient grace will carry them through each demanding day ahead. In Jesus’ name. Amen and Amen.