Category Archives: Depression


Just Three Things

The three little pigs. The three blind mice. The Three Stooges.

Everything comes in threes, right? At least my husband says so. Every time we discuss a topic he says, “It comes down to three things.

I’ve had this conversation about three so many times with John that when I started to think about how to navigate the September transition that always challenges me, I naturally came up with a three-pronged approach.

I’m not sure why September presents a challenge for me, but it does. Perhaps I miss the buzz of getting kids ready for school (might explain why I went out and bought myself crayons, gel pens, and a coloring book). Perhaps I know winter is coming. Perhaps I miss my friends who go back to school jobs. Whatever the reason, I find I must fight depression with more zeal in September.

So . . . I recently decided to work hard to do three things every day this September. And because I don’t remember as well as I used to, all of these three things start with the same letter—W.


Being outside and hearing birds tweet and dogs bark and bumping into a neighbor, her smiley baby, and her just-learned-to-ride-a-tricycle daughter feeds my soul. It slows me down enough to talk to my neighbor, to breathe deeply of the air, to admire the cloudless blue sky. And doing all of that takes my eyes and my thoughts off myself.

Apparently walking also produces endorphins in my brain, which gives me a mental and emotional boost.

Not bad for something free. If only I could move some mountains to Illinois.


Every day I talk to John on the phone and after dinner. Neither of us would miss our daily conversations and end-of-the-day debrief. And yet, I still need to spend time daily with girlfriends, even if that time is via text, email, or phone.

They help me find perspective. As we listen to each other, I realize that we all have challenges.
They make me laugh at myself and at the silly side of a situation I just couldn’t see.
They challenge me to do what I need to do for myself in the midst of caring for others.
They remind me that God sees and cares.

When I reach the end of the day and sit down with John to debrief, if I have had my girl-time, I meet my husband with more of a “full tank.” I don’t come expecting him to make everything better or meet all my emotional needs. And, really, what one person can do all of that all of the time?


Over the past few years, I have discovered the joy of personal, daily worship.

After I walk the Chief Furry Officer, we come home and settle into our favorite chair in the living room with a view of the front garden, a bird feeder, and the morning sun.


Then I grab my phone and tap my Pandora App, specifically my Storm Sisters Soundtrack station. (Here is the link: Pandora lets you customize your own station and mine is full of Fernando Ortega music, including new versions of hymns. I know many of us don’t sing hymns any more, but I find the words of hymns so life-giving. I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and let my mind focus on the words. I often find myself turning the words of the hymns into prayer. After three or four songs, my brain begins to stop jumping to the to-do list, and I begin to simply worship God. The CFO seems to settle too. :)

Worship, like walking, pulls me out of myself and gives me perspective. It reminds me that God sees and hears and cares. Nothing is impossible with God. I am not alone.

If I have a particularly challenging day and find myself churning in guilt, anger, frustration, or despair, I often return to that Pandora App and take a worship break.

Simple, right? Just three things. And they all start with W.

Want to join me in trying the three-W approach this September? Or perhaps you have developed your own three-pronged approach to coping with transition and times of stress.


Obnoxious Joy

“Joy is kinda obnoxious,” declared my young friend who had just seen Inside Out.

“Really? How can joy be obnoxious?”

And then I went to see the movie.

When Joy first appeared in the movie, I thought, Oh, she seems so nice, always rushing around and trying to keep things upbeat and keep fear, anger, sadness, and disgust minding their manners. And she tries so hard to keep everyone happy. What a noble character.

As the movie progressed, however, I started to feel exhausted watching Joy. Seriously? All that running to keep sadness at bay and keep a lid on anger’s fire? And all the physical and mental effort of juggling memories.

Hard work. Exhausting.

The more I watched Joy scurry about, the more I wanted to shout at her, “GIVE YOURSELF A DAY OFF. ASK YOURSELF SOME HARD QUESTIONS, WOMAN.”

  • Why do you think you are the ONLY one who can do all this memory-holding stuff?
  • When/how did you become the one with the job of keeping everyone else in line?
  • Who helps you when you can’t singlehandedly carry this weight of constant joy?
  • Why do you think you matter most?

Time to confess, here: I am Joy. Or at least I was until I wrestled with the hard questions I wanted to shout at Joy. I ran around trying to make everyone in my world try to feel happy. I carried the weight of making good, happy memories for my family. I worked hard to quench anger’s fire and to keep sadness at bay. And fear and disgust? I just tried hard to ignore them.

Didn’t work too well. Like Joy, I became a bit obnoxious. Just a bit too perky. And I certainly became exhausted. And depressed. Stuffing every emotion except joy just created a volcano deep within me. Eventually a volcano has to explode, or in my case, implode in the form of depression. Wish I’d learn that decades ago.

What about you? What do you think of Joy—or joy?