Thursday, January 24, 2008

Afraid of My Own Thoughts

Sometimes depression can be scary. It's like someone has hijacked your mind, and you can't believe the thoughts that are coming into your head! Maybe thoughts of violence, maybe thoughts of suicide. You may even be a quiet personality, and yet what is going on inside your head is not quiet. Believe me, I know.
So this is how we know that depression is linked to fear. It's a fear that is outside of your mind, yet is trying to ravage your thoughts. It tries to convince you to destroy your life.
I'm sure you know, if you've been to your doctor about depression, that a depressed person has low serotonin levels. Now look at other diseases that are linked to low serotonin levels: low blood sugar; hormone imbalances; irritable bowel syndrome; anxiety; headaches; migraines; pain; fatigue; fibromialgia; nervous habits like nail biting; anger; pms; and I'm sure I don't know them all. But as we look at this list, we see too that all of these diseases are related to stress. Depression is linked to stress- stress is linked to fear. So... depression is related to fear.
Not sure?
When the depression came against me (after the birth of my first child) I had been experiencing a lot of stress. A lot of fear. When you are afraid, your body releases stress hormones like adrenaline, and cortisol. The same when you are under stress. When you experience stress, a "fight or flight" reaction is activated in your body. Stress hormones are released to help you face an attack. Your spirit, your emotions, and your mind see stress as an attack. It is just not the way you were made to live. On top of all that, we often do things that add to our stress level, and we don't even know it! Are you watching the news late at night? Are you watching a scary movie with your husband before bed? Are you playing x-box every day? Even staring at the computer screen too much can do it. When you put those frightening or stressful images before your eyes (even though they aren't real) your brain will release the exact same hormones (albeit in smaller quantities) that it would if the event were actually happening.
Now how does that tie in with depression? Well... what will happen after you have lived at that level of stress for years at a time? You start "using up" your serotonin, your adrenaline, and others. You get fatigued. Sometimes in men this can be a midlife crisis, often in women it is depression. I know I'm not a scientist, nor a doctor, but it stands to reason that any system you overwork will eventually give you trouble. If you eat a high sugar diet, you are in danger of overworking your pancreas. If you live a high stress, high anxiety lifestyle, you are in danger of overworking your brain.
What would that look like? Maybe sleeplessness, despair, hopelessness, depression. A depressed person can want to curl up under the blankets and never come out, because they've overworked the system. They need some time to recoup!
Now depression doesn't just affect your brain, as if it was all physical, but it also affects your spirit, the eternal part of you that lives in your body. It affects your emotions (which are tied to both body and spirit), and it affects your thought life.
Let's face it: some of those thoughts you have each day are just a thought of your flesh, like: "Mmm, that's good!" Or "I'm so tired!" But if your spirit wants to think something, it can't do it anywhere else but in your mind, because it lives in the house that is your flesh. I don't mean that you are a disembodied person inhabiting an earth suit, but your spirit is in an organic union with all of your body, and if your thoughts are full of "flesh" thoughts, then there isn't enough room for your spirit to say things like: "You can do it!" or, "There is hope!"
Now there is so much more I need to say here, but we must end with two thoughts:
There is a slow way to get through this, and a fast one.
Slow, is that you continue in a stressed out lifestyle, eating a poor diet, thinking thoughts that scare even you.
Fast, is that you wake up. Right now today, and reach out to God for some help. You are a special creation, and no one knows you like God does. He knows you and understands why you are depressed even better than anyone else does. When you pray, He can show you things that will make it easier and faster to come out of depression. Besides that, His word will give you comfort and stability, like nothing else can. Remember, depression is an enemy that Jesus Christ has defeated. There's no sense in messing around in it anymore. Jesus said He would give you His peace. THAT, is the fast track out of depression. To know His peace transcends your circumstances, it changes the chemical structure of you brain, it relieves you of stress and fear.
Now take some time out of the busy pace of life, and spend it reading your bible, and talking to God. Just talk to Him as if He was your friend: like He is right there with you. Those precious moments with Him in His word will begin to turn your life around.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spinach: Number One on the ORAC Scale (Drink Your Greens)

Hi everybody, I just thought I'd give you a glimpse into my kitchen today, and a glance at my breakfast table. : )

The first picture here is of one of my green smoothies. I made it (as memory serves me) with fresh baby spinach, frozen mangoes, a frozen banana, and some water. Sometimes I add a teaspoon of chickpea protein powder, and a teaspoon of raw flax oil.
The odd time I will add a quarter of an avocado, instead of the protein powder and flax oil, but the avocado changes the taste a bit, so then I might add less spinach and more fruit.
You can use frozen peaches, or blueberries instead of mango- I really love the blueberries, but it will make it more of a brown smoothie then. ; )

The next photo is of some nice avocados I found at Costco. We live in Canada, and I'm sure the selection of produce is different here than what it might be in the States, but Costco usually has the best avocados where I live. I eat a great deal of raw food, and avocados provide raw fat, and vegetable protein- easy to digest. As I mentioned, I will put a quarter of an avocado in a smoothie, then freeze the rest in chunks and put in a later smoothie. I freeze items like this on a baking sheet, then transfer to a ziploc bag later. Another favorite way of mine to eat avocados is to mash them up with fresh lemon juice, then pile on a piece of rye bread and sprinkle with sea salt. Yum! I'm hungry already!
I included the grapefruit photo because as I mentioned, I am currently eating at least 50% of my food raw. I also eat seasonally, because you will get the best quality food, at the best price if you buy seasonally. It really works great for me, because if I haven't eaten grapefruits for a year, then they will really taste delicious. I will eat 2 or 3 a day for 2 or 3 weeks, and then I am done with them, and happy not to see any more grapefruits for awhile! I also included this photo, because citrus is very high in antioxidants, and we've been eating a great deal of citrus around here lately.
And this is a photo of carrot juice. It's so pretty, don't you think? I find if I make it with nice fresh, sweet carrots, I don't need to add anything to it (like apple juice-to offset the flavour). When I make it, I will do about a litre, and put the rest in the fridge- then drink it over the course of the day. More antioxidants! Yum, Yum.

And lastly, is a pot of sugar free "rice pudding". I took some cooked basmati rice (which is supposed to have a lower glycemic index) but I often use brown, then simmered it in almond milk (with raisins) until it was soft, and rather thick. Then I drizzled it with raw honey, and sprinkled with cinnamon. Once in awhile I need the carbs and protein that raw veggies and fruit don't have, and this is a tasty dessert.
So what do you think? Feel free to leave a comment, or let us know what you've been eating for breakfast lately. Again, if you will eat just one raw meal per day, you will begin to notice a difference in how you feel. If you are just starting out with raw foods, then make sure you get enough to eat for breakfast, because raw foods go through your digestive system faster. They also don't use as much stomach acid to digest (which is good!) so you may feel hungry faster. If this is the case, then make a 2 litre smoothie; drink one 1 litre for breakfast; put the other litre in a thermos and drink around 10:30 am. You will feel much "lighter", and alert if you will keep it up.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thank God, It's Monday!

First, Ann Voskamp has a great post on JOY, and you know I am all about joy! : )

Father, today I thank You for:
51. A new Monday morning- a fresh beginning!
52. A to do list, and the knowledge that I can cross things off without even doing them.
53. The peace that comes with order.
54. A clean bathroom. Sometimes something very simple can bring pleasure, and satisfaction to a day which seems otherwise out of our control.
If you are feeling discouraged today, try cleaning your kitchen. Pray and sing while you do it.
I know some of you have babies, and feel like cleaning your kitchen is an impossibility, and so I cannot recommend enough that you get a back pack for the baby. My youngest would cry almost constantly, unless I held him, so he spent the first two years of his life in the back pack. It was not a sentence for me- really, it was a joy! He was so quiet and delightful back there, that I could do the dishes, go to Costco, and often even forget that he was there! If you have back troubles, there may still be a carrier that could work for you. I found that carrying Jonathan on my front in a "snuggli" just didn't work for me. It gave me a neck ache, and a back ache, but to wear him on my back, in a back pack that kept him quite high up, was no problem. It saved me countless hours of stress. He was safe up there too- I never worried about him, and he loved to watch all the other kids, and to watch me do dishes. Nuff said.
55. Father, I thank You that I can eat. We can't take it for granted.
56. A six year old, who is learning to vacuum!
57. No wind- a sunny January day.
58. My best buddy- Jed.
There's so much more I would say today, but we are back at homeschooling- I'll post again tomorrow maybe.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fear, and Depression

I have so many things I'm thinking about today- so many things going around in my head that I want to say, and I just wish I could type faster!

But I have to start somewhere, and I guess the more I am here typing, the more I will be able to get across to you. I feel like my heart is full of messages, and I need more time to put them to pen and paper here.

I have been thinking about the link between depression and fear.

When I had post-partum depression I didn't know I had a problem with fear. The idea never occurred to me, and even when Jed had to drive me to the hospital in the middle of the night because of an anxiety attack, I didn't make the connection. It was just something weird that happened to my heart: a rapid beating, and other symptoms. It may have been anxiety, but it wasn't really fear.

But now, as a healthy woman, a woman free of depression, and of fear, I can see looking back that I was afraid.

I was afraid of being rejected by my parents, for having gotten pregnant before my wedding. I was afraid of not being a good mother, of not knowing what to do with a baby! I was afraid for Elijah, afraid because of his crying all the time, and his throwing up, and did I mention the constant crying?

I don't know if this is where you are at right now: tired and beleaguered from a baby waking you up all night, and crying all day, but I want you to know that God understands how you feel, and that He is there with you. You can call on Him for help.

I was very afraid that Jed would reject me. We had known each other a year before we married, but we had only really "dated". I mean, a euphoric relationship where everything is fun, and there is no stress! There were no financial demands, all we did was eat out and go to movies! No serious discussions. Surface level stuff for sure. So now that we were married, there was no hiding my dysfunctional self from him. All of who I was was exposed, and vulnerable. And now that I was depressed, he was seeing the worst side of me. A terrible side, that I hadn't even known existed! I lived with constant fear, and strain, and I just couldn't bear it.

I was afraid, and it fueled the depression. The depression fueled the fear, because I would be so totally exhausted and depleted that the only thing that seemed to give me any energy was either fear, or rage. So I went about in a depressed stupor, constantly barraged by fearful thoughts, and not even knowing what was happening.

What was the way out of this?! Well, one of the big things (huge things) in my case was LOVE. Pure, and simple love. Jed and I started going to a church, where the people loved each other, and they loved the people that came! A lady from that church (Lydia) came to me one Sunday, and looking me in the eyes, asked me if I was depressed. She invited Jed and I to her house, where she and her husband were counselling and teaching other young couples like us, and we went. By that time, Jed and I were a real basket case, and so totally susceptible to the love of God.

Over time, Lydia and her husband George won my heart, and Jed's. They talked to us about Jesus, about the word of God, and about the Holy Spirit. I had never really heard of the Holy Spirit, but when Lydia and I talked, I knew that He was real. Lydia and George took our phone calls late at night when we were having some kind of emotional crisis, or an argument, and they would quietly encourage us to forgive. When our marriage was falling in around us, Lydia and George gave Jed hope that it could change, that I could change. Lydia and George's faithful love, and acceptance of Jed and I saved our lives. It saved our marriage.

So what does that mean for you- and what does it have to do with fear?

Well, remember we talked about making your heart a place where Jesus is welcome, and where demons don't want to hang around? Well to store up love in your heart is to store up God's presence in your heart, because God is love. When your heart is full of God, and His love, there is no room for fear, no room for demons! There is no room for the torment of depression.

How do we do it? How can you fill your heart with His kind of love if you don't have a Lydia, or a George? Maybe you are afraid to trust people, or maybe you would, but just can't find anyone.

Let me encourage you, that God is not limited by your situation, no matter how dismal! Let me explain: once I realized that fear really was a huge problem for me, I was happy enough to be free, I just didn't know how! My pastor's wife (a wonderful mentor, and an amazing woman) prayed for me about it, and she rebuked fear out of my life. It was necessary, and God's beginning of my freedom from fear, but the fearful feelings just didn't quit that day. I was still afraid of the dark, I still felt afraid in social situations, I still thought fear-filled thoughts.

But one day, even years later, as I was feeding a baby and watching TV, a program "happened" to come on. It was Kenneth Copeland's "Believer's Voice of Victory". He was preaching about being freed from fear. I watched it with interest, and at the end of the program they were offering a cd set on what he'd been preaching about. I thought to myself: "I've been prayed for about this issue of fear, surely it's done in my life". Also, I didn't want to spend the money on the cd's! But something inside me (that quiet, sweet voice of the Holy Spirit) was saying that I ought to go ahead and order those cd's. So I did, and it changed my life.

What I learned from Kenneth Copeland during those years changed my life forever. He taught that God is Love. He said that whenever I read my bible, I could substitute the word LOVE any time I read the word God, and it would help me to get to know God, to know Him for Who He really is. I started doing that, and it was like a light coming on inside me- I could see now that God loved me, that His word was good, and it began to flush the fear out of my life.

So back to my original point: if you don't have anyone you can trust to love you right now, like Lydia loved me, you can still trust God to reach you where you are. He reached me through my television!! He reached me through the preaching of a man I didn't even know, who certainly didn't know me! No matter what is going on in your life right now, God loves you, He is good, and He wants entrance to your life. He wants to cast out all your fears, and to overcome your depression. You can trust Him, it is safe to believe that He will do it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Giving Thanks

Father, no matter what my circumstances, I will thank You. No matter what I feel like, no matter what is happening in my life, I will thank You, because You are good.

41. A camera, to record, and to remember.

42. The mercies of God, new every morning.

43. A good sleep!

44. A little girl, with ponytails.

45. Math tests; high scores.

46. A new book to read.

47. A six year old boy, who loves his mom.

48. A twelve year old boy, who loves his mom!

49. A dishwasher!

50. Marriage- Forever.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

More on the Demon of Depression

Okay, so knowing that depression is a demon does not neccessarily mean that you have a demon. It doesn't mean that a demon has you. What it means is, that there is an enemy to your mind, who wants to operate in your life- to control you. "It" wants to influence you to the point that it can control what you say, do, think, and how you feel. If it controls how you feel, it will control how you act.
How does this work? Well the Word says that you are a slave to the one that you agree to obey. It means that when depressed thoughts come, if you just lay down for them, then you are offering yourself- you are yielding. He is saying that when you yield, you become the slave.

It makes me think of our golden lab again. (The things you can learn from a dog!) She and I have an ongoing contest, to see which of us is really the top dog. I try to ensure that she knows it is me, but she will wait till I'm not looking, and then lay down on top of my garden! (On purpose, because she knows I don't want her to.) I make sure I roll her over on her back (to show my great prowess), but later when I'm not around, she will poop on my front lawn, and send the message that: "I don't yield. I am the top dog". However, when we had a male german shepherd named Jake (he recently passed away), he would bite Chica (the golden lab) on the head, and dominate her in a way that truly convinced her: "Nope, I am really not the top dog after all!" She would yield herself to Jake: she was at his whim. A slave.

Now that's what a demon of depression tries to do: it tries to strong arm you, scare you, bite you on the head a bit, till you feel like it's just not worth it. That you may as well give in. BUT, when you don't resist the depressed thoughts, you are yielding. You are offering yourself as a slave to depression.

So what do we do? Well I'm sure you remember some Hollywood movie where there was an exciting exorcism, and a great showdown between a Catholic priest, and a demonized woman. Well, this doesn't have to be like that. What is happening here, is a fight for your heart. A battle between the Lord Jesus, and the disobedient, the law-breaker: satan.

Your heart is like a house- a clay pot- a temple. It has the capacity to contain things. You are in charge of what you put in it. Oh, it's true that other people will make contributions, but you have the final say: you determine what will stay or go. Like a shopping cart that you place items in, or put items back on the shelf, your heart has the capacity to contain, and you have the authority to reject.

Things get into your heart through your eyes, your ears, your thoughts; your body's experiences and reactions. You can store things in that heart of yours without ever realizing it, or intending to. But why is your heart so important? Why would satan (or a demon of depression) want your heart?

It is because your heart is where your life comes from. It is full of the things that you will say, and what you say will determine the course of your life. Not convinced? Well what about people who are always going around saying: "I just know I'm going to get that flu again, you just see if I don't!" Now don't you know that those people are the people who will get that flu? Have you ever met someone who kept saying that they would die young, and then they did? My dad (sorry to have to tell a story on you, Dad!) had a puppy of which he said (almost daily) "I just know this puppy is going to get run over too". Can you guess what happened to that puppy?

So I say all this to show you that your heart is your house, your home, the centre of your being. You can invite Jesus into it, and ask Him to clean it up, or you can keep it in the condition that demons like, and they will be more than happy to make your life miserable. Remember, if you offer yourself to obey them, you become their slave.

In practical terms, what does this mean?

It means that you can't afford to harbour any unforgiveness in your heart. When you fail to forgive, you are not imprisoning the other person, as much as you are imprisoning yourself! Science has shown that people who forgive have a higher rate of recovery than people who harbour bitterness. It's the same for anger, or grief, or depression. A person who loves is healthier, and lives longer than someone who won't forgive.

If your heart is the house, and you intend to keep it in a condition that isn't favourable to demons, you will have to forgive. You will have to love.

A big key to my healing was in my forgiving. It wasn't easy, it wasn't something that the other person deserved; there wasn't any promise of the other person changing. But what changed was me. I was free. I began to see that if this person never met my needs, it would be OK. God was my perfect heavenly Father, and all I needed was Him.

Boy, I still don't feel like I'm done with this topic yet, and I hope we can do many more. Especially on forgiveness. What do you think?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Greens are Brain Food

I wanted to post a follow up today to yesterday's post, but since I want to spend some time on it, and thought I'd post something brief today in the interim.
There are many other health issues are linked to depression (like hypoglycemia, irritable bowel syndrome, addictions etc., just to name a few). So I wanted to point out that as we deal with the contents of our hearts (our emotional, spiritual issues), it sure makes things easier if we are taking good care of our bodies, and don't have all these things hindering us.

One thing I've really enjoyed over the last year is eating more greens. Greens are food for your brain! Your brain has probably been undernourished for years, and you just never thought about it- but if you've only been eating the standard American diet, of white flour, fatty meats, processed milk, and deep fried items, then really your brain needs better nourishment!!
Greens (eaten daily, in significant qualities) will begin to squelch cravings for foods that are bad for you: the cravings are just a cry for nutrients that your undernourished body (and brain) is sending out. Try eating one raw meal per day, for several weeks, and see the difference in how you feel.
For breakfast I often have a smoothie containing:
-baby spinach (or other very green fresh lettuce),
-frozen banana,
-frozen berries (saskatoon, blueberries, or strawberries- because berries are good for your brain, and your blood sugar),
-maybe some raw juice, some rice milk, or just water (2 cups or less- enough to make it blend nicely).
I often add a teaspoon of raw flax oil (as this helps it last longer in your stomach, and good fats in small quantities are good for your brain), and sometimes a teaspoon of chickpea protein powder.
You can add anything really, but make sure it contains something green, and is primarily RAW. If the taste is hard to get used to, add some stevia drops, but no sugar!!!! Sugar is NOT a brain food, but instead it is taxing to your brain, as it finds the constant ups and downs difficult to deal with.
If you find the taste to be strange, make sure you are using baby spinach, as it has a milder flavour, and a softer texture.
If this isn't a big enough breakfast for you, make twice as much, and store the second half in a thermos, so it is still cool and thick later in the morning when you need it.
I often send lettuce or spinach through my Breville juicer- I just crunch it up in a ball, and send it through after an apple or two.

So do your brain a favour, and start eating some raw greens. You will really notice a difference in your mornings. : )