About 1 out of every 5 women will have depression at some time in their lives. Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. It’s no wonder then that homeschooling moms experience it.
The problem for many homeschooling moms with depression is expectations. As Christians, we may expect to have no problems with depression as long as our faith is strong enough. As homeschooling women, we often have very high expectations of our role as mother, wife, and teacher. We may live in fear that if we admit to struggling, our children may be forced to go to school. The combination can create denial which prevents us from getting the help we need.
If you or someone you know is depressed, I encourage you to listen to the Homeschooling In Real Life podcast with Andy and Kendra Fletcher on the topic of depression. Andy and Kendra were my colleagues when I was recording the Homeschool Sanity Show podcast for the Ultimate Homeschool Network. I have since gotten to know them better personally and can’t recommend them or their service to the Christian homeschool community enough. They tackle the tough topics and get real. They’re a breath of fresh air in age when too many have gone off the rails. I hope you’ll subscribe to their show, will leave a rating on iTunes, and will take steps to prevent or alleviate depression in your life.
I would also love to chat with you on Facebook.
Maybe, like me, you have so many reasons to be joyful, but it seems that someone or something seems to run off with this spiritual treasure. What can we do to stop 'em from stealing our joy?
- Quit doing business with them. In our local news lately have been reports of home invasions that strike fear in the hearts of neighbors. The fact that the criminals were doing business with the victim makes everyone feel a little bit more at ease. We can feel safer emotionally by choosing not to do business with people who attack us verbally or physically or who only make emotional withdrawals, never deposits.
- Claim your right to the joy. Some theft victims are reluctant to press charges because they feel guilty for having so much. We are never to feel guilt for having joy, even if others are depressed. We may not be able to share our joy, but we can share its Source.
- Stop stealing from yourself. I've had my share of things stolen, but I've robbed myself of more than any thief has. I haven't taken care of my belongings and they've been misplaced or destroyed. In the same way, we can steal our own joy by not taking care of ourselves. Joy is harder to come by when we don't have optimal sleep, nutrition, or exercise.
- Use a security system. Most of the times I've been robbed have been when I've left a car door unlocked or left my valuables in plain sight. We don't have to hide from others to keep our joy, but we do need a security system. God's Word is not only an inexhaustible source of joy, but it's a weapon we can use to ward off the lies the con men use to get access to our treasure. The Bible is the best security system there is, but even it won't be effective if we keep letting the thieves in the door through the media we take in.
Have you found any other ways of keeping your joy, short of gun ownership? 😉
You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (Hebrews 10:34)
Imagine driving a reliable car and then one day finding that it won't start. Your reaction? Start shopping for a new car! Ludicrous, isn't it. Yet, that's what so many of us are tempted to do when our reliable system for getting things done breaks down.
For the last month, my engine hasn't been starting. I've let things pile up. I've got no get up and go. Are you in the driveway with me? Let's look at potential reasons our productivity has stalled:
- We're run down. The most likely reason for a vehicle failing to start is we've left something on (because a door is open) all night. Or so many things are drawing energy from us, that we can't keep up. Not getting enough sleep and giving out emotional energy to lots of different people and situations is a recipe for a run-down battery. I've been way too busy and have dealt with many difficult emotional situations to boot this month.
- Poor connections. When connections with your battery are loose or corroded, you won't get the fire you need to get started. The connections we need to get things done are the relationship we have with the Lord and with people who love us. If you haven't been spending adequate time with these vital connections, you will shut down. Although I have had time with the Lord, I haven't had enough time with encouraging people lately.
- Equipment failure. Sometimes I've had a car with a bad starter. And sometimes our bodies aren't functioning optimally. If we are ill, going through hormonal shifts, or are depressed, we will have difficulty feeling motivated. Sometimes equipment failure comes as a result of poor maintenance. Maintenance for our bodies comes in the form of proper nutrition, exercise, and physical exams. I had let my exercise intensity slip and as I felt more sluggish, my nutrition was suffering as well.
Notice that none of these diagnoses demand a new car. In the same way, if you are struggling to accomplish things, the answer is not likely to be a new time management approach. When I get into a slump like I did this past month, I am tempted to surf the web looking for new productivity ideas and apps. Past experience leads me to believe, however, that there is no app or approach to getting things done that is going to put me in gear and keep me there. My current approach to managing my time and tasks is actually quite reliable. And furthermore, even as I have let things go, nothing catastrophic has happened. I lost a few dollars in library fines, but that's it.
So if a shiny new productivity system isn't the answer, what is? A jump start. Nine times out of ten, when my car won't start, a jump will do the trick. Here's how I have gotten my productivity jump start:
- Get a jump start right now. Typically, when I go out to my car, I need to get somewhere. Now. The priority is to take action immediately. When we're in a productivity slump, we need to focus on the moment. Avoid thinking about how you'll handle everything tomorrow, next week, or next month. Make a fresh start right now and decide what you will accomplish in what's left of today.
- Open the hood. It's hard to jump start a car if you don't do that. Yet we often expect things to magically get better when we're in a slump. Open up your calendar, your to-do notebook, or task software. Clear away the cobwebs–the stuff that is already outdated. Likewise, move tasks that don't need to be addressed soon to a different list, context, or date. Often, just looking at your list will motivate you.
- Recharge. Sometimes cars that need a jump start have batteries that have been run so low that they need time to be plugged in and recharged. I recognized what had been draining me and I did something about it. I made plans to have lunch with a friend who encouraged me. I slept in. I made myself exercise and eat right even when I didn't want to. I took more time for prayer and Bible reading. And I unplugged from people and issues that were draining me.
- Choose a destination. Having a car that starts isn't much good if you don't know where you're going. In order to make best use of your jump start, choose a short-term goal that will get you up and moving. A friend of mine and I made a list of seven projects we wanted to complete in the next two weeks. Then we started sharing our daily progress with each other via iDoneThis.
I'm happy to report that my productivity engine is running smoothly again. I pray that something I've written will be the spark you need to get going, too, without a new system!
I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. (Nehemiah 2:18)
When I got married and finished my Ph.D. in psychology, I wanted to start a family. My plan was to work part-time. I really thought it was the perfect plan. At least until I had a baby.
I couldn't fathom turning my baby over to someone else. I cried when I was on maternity leave and told my husband, "He doesn't want me to go back to work." My husband was scared of me from the pregnancy/childbirth ordeal, so he just said, "OK." I felt sick when I left my 8-week-old baby with a woman I barely knew. Everyone told me I would get over it.
It was nice to get back to the job I enjoyed and to see my colleagues. But it wasn't long before my perfect plan didn't seem so perfect. On my work days, I had time to bathe and feed my baby after I picked him up, but then it was time for him to go to sleep. I felt like I didn't even get to see him. I loved my off-days with him, but as I saw him change in new and exciting ways on those days, I wondered what I was missing on the days I worked.
Things were okay until we were finally off the waiting list to get our son into a daycare within a nursing home. There were only three other babies and several toddlers in the daycare. I liked that it was small and that he would be around older people. I didn't have to wait long for him to get sick, however. The daycare called and said my baby had a fever and I would have to come get him. I had to cancel appointments, pick up my son, and take him to the doctor. My pediatrician examined him, said he had an ear infection, and pronounced, "It's because he's in daycare."
I don't remember what I thought when my pediatrician said that. I was a brand-new mom and a brand-new psychologist. I was making a lot of adjustments. I probably thought that this was just part of being a working mom that I would have to adjust to. My baby got better and I took him back to daycare. I got another phone call. He had a fever, so I cancelled my appointments and took him back to the doctor. The doctor diagnosed another ear infection and said, "It's because he's in daycare."
This became a script for my life and my poor baby's life that we replayed every week or two. During one doctor's visit, my pediatrician warned that if he got another ear infection, we would have to consider tubes. Once again, the doctor said, "It's because he's in daycare." I went home that day and sat at the kitchen table with my head in my hands and cried. I needed a new plan.
My husband and my boss agreed that I could cut back to working two evenings a week. When my husband was out of town those nights, his sister-in-law agreed to take care of the baby. From the day that I decided to stay home, my son never had another ear infection. I, however, continued to have some pain. I faced the disdain of people who thought I was wasting my education staying home and the pain of loneliness and a confused identity. I went through several months of depression. I eventually invited several mom acquaintances from church to join me for a Bible study. I made friends and peace with who I was. My baby and I were both feeling better.
Today I marvel that God used a pediatrician who wasn't politically correct to call me home. My first baby will be 15 on Monday.
4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2:4-5)