Living with Seasonal Affective Disorder
encouragement, God's Beauty, God's love, Loss, My Walk, Relationships, Traveling, Wisdom

SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard.

SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard
SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard

 This post contains affiliate links. Please click here for our full disclosure

Living in the Pacific Northwest is Hard

Almost four years ago my little family and I returned to the Pacific Northwest. This relocation has been a struggle for several reasons, but one of the biggest struggles we’ve had to deal with is my ongoing battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder–SAD. Although the struggle didn’t start out as hard as I expected it to be, it has recently gotten worse.

I spent four years living in the desert, a place where it was sunny almost every day. On those rare occasions when it wasn’t, every part of me knew it. Those days were miserable for me, and made me grateful for each and every sunny day.

I also realized how blessed I was to no longer be living in the PNW.

The LORD had other plans for my little family though, and one day we packed up and headed back to the trees and mountains I’d grown up around. The PNW is beautiful. There is no denying that, but to be beautiful it spends quite a bit of time gray and dreary. For someone who needs the sunshine to be mellow and happy, the trade-off comes at a high price.

Summer Makes Me Come Alive

Today is beautiful. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there is just the right amount of breeze rustling the trees. Spring is here, and summer is approaching. I’ll be honest and say summer makes me come alive.

The past few months have been hard for me. Our family thrives on schedules and routines because, when it comes to me living in a state that spends close to six months a year with little sunshine, routines help me to not completely become a hermit. It also keeps the SAD from getting so out of control that I end up becoming a shadow of myself.

Sadly, this year those schedules and routines haven’t helped as much as they have in the past.

Making the Connection

I can’t really lock down when this ongoing battle became noticeable;  when the depression started interfering with my life. All I know is one day I realized I’d started putting off going places. I’d started finding reasons to not leave the house–to excuse myself and my family from social events because they felt like obligations–and that feeling stressed me out.

During the winter months I struggled with this a lot. Since the loss of my father and the suffocating feeling I had from the bleakness of the weather, I found myself leaving my home less and less. I’ve stepped away from several things I enjoyed doing, because I couldn’t convince myself the recovery time it would take me afterward was worth it.

The only things I’ve managed to maintain throughout this time are things directly involved with my children. No matter how hard it is for me, I don’t want to let them down. They enjoy their time at AWANA and Classical Conversations community day.  It wasn’t (and isn’t) their fault that I have a hard time functioning without glorious sunshine.

I’m Worried Too

My husband worries about me, and my friends worry about me. They’re afraid I’m not just going to become a hermit, but a full-fledged shut in.

If I’m honest, I’m worried about that as well.

You see, I love my church, but when this suffocating sensation turns to panic at the thought of leaving my home Sunday morning and facing people, I know there is reason to be concerned.

Today, I’m feeling great, and that knowledge can lull me into a false sense of security. It can cause me to forget the way I feel when it isn’t sunny and beautiful.

Sunlight therapy isn’t enough (though, I highly recommend adding it if you suffer from SAD!), and neither is the medication I gave in and started taking four years ago.

I need God to help me through this, the same way I need Him in every aspect of my life.

Blessings, 

Sare Signature

Advertisements
parenting love
encouragement, Homeschooling, Joy, Motherhood, My One Word, My Walk, Parenting, Relationships, The Fallen World, The Kiddos, Wisdom

When I Was A Perfect Parent

I once was a perfect parent. Before I had children of my own.
When I was a Perfect Parent

I Was a Perfect Parent

As a teenager, one who obviously knew it all, I believed I would be a certain way as an adult. I was one of those people who believed I knew how to handle whatever life had in store for me. This included parenting.

*Insert slightly insane laughter here*

There is a meme floating around the internet that states: “I was a perfect parent. Then I had children.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so incredibly accurate. Too many people (me included) believe they’ve got it all figured out–life, fitness, parenting, their make-up; only to have reality kick them solidly in the solar plexus. My old friend, Reality likes to remind me of its presence regularly.

When I was still a perfect parent–living under my parents’ roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me. I wouldn’t keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I’d understand them, and treat them with “respect”.

I’m sure God chuckled at my plans. My parents did.

When I was still a perfect parent--living under my parents' roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me. I wouldn't keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I'd understand them, and treat them with

Before the birth of my youngest my niece and I spent some time sitting on a bench overlooking the Puget Sound. The sun was warm, the sky was clear, the seagulls were begging scraps of our lunches, and it was a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle we’d been dealing with for the last few months. Taking a few moments to enjoy the beauty the LORD has created, and to truly appreciate it helped to relax my anxious heart.

It also helped me to understand something about myself.

I’m not a perfect parent. In fact, teen me would spend a lot of time rolling her eyes at adult me. I might have thought my parents were strict, but they were nothing compared to how I am as a parent. Part of this stems from a moderate battle with anxiety, but not all of it. Simply put, my priorities have changed, as have my views.

God is the Perfect Parent

God has blessed us with three beautiful children, not to be perfect parents, but to teach them and train them up in what is righteous. Much to their dismay, that includes horrors like sweeping, making their beds, and cleaning bathrooms, and picking up toys. It also requires them to spend time with us, to not put their friends above the LORD or their family, and to forgive each other when we stumble.

Something else that comes along with this is the amount of freedom we allow our children to have. Our eldest is only nine, and regardless of how my husband and I were raised the world is a much different place today than it was twenty years ago. Yes, she can play outside without constant supervision, but there are rules that have to be followed, and consequences if those rules are ignored. This is a relatively new freedom for her, and I still have several bad moments where I want to keep her in the house away from any chance of getting hit by a speeding car (see, anxiety). I’m taking it a day at a time, and maybe I’ll be more relaxed when they’re visiting me in the retirement home.

The point is, there are no perfect parents on Earth, except God, and of course those who have never had children. We as a society (especially women) spend so much time judging the merits of one person over another that we seem to forget we’re all just stumbling along doing the best we can. Have some people lost their way? Yes, but that isn’t for us to judge. There are people in this world who have been called to help those who have fallen. Instead of casting blame and pointing fingers, it’s time for us to come together and build each other up, and to raise our own children with love, compassion, and grace.

 

encouragement, Faith, listen, My One Word, Relationships, Wisdom

I am Human

Anxiety can make you feel like you’re all alone in a room full of people, while simultaneously drowning you in wave after wave of everyone else’s needs and wants. I’m not sure when I first experienced anxiety, but I’m pretty sure I was in elementary school. Possibly as early as first grade. It likely reared up the same time as the pecking order at recess.

I do know, it hasn’t gotten better with time or maturity. Instead, it ebbs and flows, but never really goes away. The older I get, the more I notice it in my everyday life. It is no longer confined to the moments of show-and-tell, reading aloud, class projects, or being called on to answer a question. Now it is present anytime I have to be around people other than my immediate family. It happens when I know I have to run errands, change my routine, or participate in a social engagement for my children. It even happens in online discussion groups in college. The day I found out my school was moving from chat boxes to video conferencing for our class meetings, I had an epic anxiety attack. I don’t do videos, or anything that requires me to record my voice. At least not voluntarily, or without a whole lot of stress and, you guessed it, anxiety.

Though I pray about it continually, the panic and anxiety rarely disappears completely. Since the birth of my youngest, what once started out as a moderate inconvience has become something almost debilitating in its occurance. Sundays have become a struggle, because I’m torn between the need to fellowship and worship the LORD, and the desire to hide away because of the panic squeezing my heart.

Add this anxiety to the SAD that plagues me, and there are many days when the only place I want to be is curled up under a warm blanket. This might seem like a good way to spend a day, and it is when it is a choice. When it isn’t a choice the joy that would normally come with it is missing.

I have faith the LORD will help me through this season of life. He will give me the strength when I am weakest. I just need to remember to give it to Him. I am only human.

Blessings,

Sare

Faith, help, journalism, Joy, My One Word, My Walk, Relationships, The Fallen World, Wisdom

I’m Trusting in Him

Today, social media is blowing up yet again about the death of a man and the ensuing riots in the Milwaukee community. Everyone has an opinion; some with first-hand knowledge, and others (like myself) who have only heard about it through various news sites and blog posts.

What concerns me most about the posts, aren’t the facts behind the event (a man with previous criminal experience pointing a loaded gun at a Law Enforcement Officer), but the way the narrative is framed. Our society automatically adds in the race of each of the involved parties, then for added effect we’ll throw in a few derogatory terms such as “thug” or “pig”.

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:8

Suddenly entire communities go on the defensive. There is no understanding or steps taken to create change. What there is instead is division. Communities aren’t coming together to talk things through in a calm and useful way; hatred is spewed from the mouths of angry citizens. Families are attacked by strangers, while simultaneously attacking others. Our words have power, and with the ease of access to outlets the internet and social media have given us, the more powerful those words become.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18:21

Twenty years ago, an officer may have shot someone, regardless of race, during the course of their day; if you lived on the other side of the country or the world, the probability was you’d never hear about it. The reach of words and emotions didn’t extend that far. The power wasn’t that great. Today, someone in another country can’t eat dinner without the rest of the world having access to it. People become famous off of digitally recording actions most of the world would be embarrassed by. We are a world where reality television has become an idol. We live in a time that equates fame with money and an extravagant lifestyle–religious and non-religious alike. Helping people has become another money-making empire, and is too often done as a tax write off than out of any true desire to change the circumstances of those in need.

We are broken. We’ve been broken longer than anyone reading this has been alive. We’ve been broken since Adam and Eve made their choice and disobeyed God. We’ve continued to walk a sinful and deadly path since Cain killed Abel.

No amount of police shaming or race shaming is going to fix what is wrong with our world. Neither will stereotyping, race-baiting, or hash-tagging. Truthfully, the color of a person’s skin is the least of our worries. Sin doesn’t care what color our skin is, it simply looks for a chink in our armor. We don’t need other countries to destroy us, they just have to sit back and wait for us to destroy ourselves–to allow sin to destroy us, one choice at a time.

The truth is, there is no easy answer to this. We are only human. Weak and sinful; we crave the joys of the world more than those of our forever home, and because of that, we’ll never understand why we witness our country, and on a larger scale, our world, falling apart. As a Christian, my heart clings to faith. Faith in My God who knows what happens tomorrow. Who knows where this is all going, and which person or community the lesson is for.

In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
Ephesians 1:11

Maybe it’s for me, or you, or someone none of us have met. I don’t know, but I do know one thing: I’m trusting in Him.

Blessings, Sare

Faith, God's Beauty, In the Beginning, My One Word, My Walk, The Kiddos

Push Back the Dark

Yesterday the effects of the stress and strain that’s been my constant companion the past two months won out, and it was a horrible day. I skipped my daily PIYO workout, because I knew I needed to use that single hour of ‘me time’ — the time my daughter completes her independent work, and my son naps– to connect more completely with God.

Darkness was overtaking me and I felt like I was drowning in a pit with no way to free myself. I needed help in a BIG way. Even though I keep my Faith (there’s MY word of the year!), in our Lord, sometimes I find myself holding onto too much of the burden instead of truly letting it go to him in not only word, but deed as well.

For me, it’s easy to tell Him I’m giving my troubles to him. It isn’t so easy to actually DO it. I’m finding as I travel this path, there really is a difference.

Even after my hour of quality time with the Lord, I wasn’t better. The darkness had lessened some, but it was still there. Anger still clawed at me–threatened to turn me into a raving lunatic– I still felt alone, I still felt the seductive allure of my past calling to me. “Drink, Sare! It’ll make everything bearable. If you don’t care about anything, you won’t feel anything.”

Here’s a side note. I haven’t drank a single drop of alcohol in three years. I’d like to say this happened, because I knew I had a problem, but it didn’t. I stopped drinking mostly on accident. Three years later I consider it a happy accident, but at the time I didn’t even realize I wasn’t drinking away my problems. What happened was, I got hired on as a lifeguard and took my job seriously. I didn’t have enough time between shifts to drink and still feel secure in my ability to keep people safe.

When the dark takes over, like it did yesterday, it concerns me. Not just because it’s darkness and I’m a creature of the light, but because I worry how many times this can happen before my children are scarred by it. How many “Momma is feeling dark” days can I have before all they will remember about growing up is how angry I was? Let me just say, those worries do nothing to bring me closer to the light. Those worries don’t help me push back the darkness. In fact, I’m pretty sure those worries come from another place entirely, and that’s a place I don’t want to visit.

I know I’m new to this and that even people who have known God their entire lives have days where the darkness wants to consume them. Whenever the darkness starts pushing up on me, and I need to push it away, I repeat over and over the only verse I’ve managed to actually memorize. (That’s a lot harder than my daughter makes it look while memorizing verses for Awana!)

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”– Psalm 52:12

What are some verses you turn to when you need help to push back the dark?

Today, Lord I pray you will help me push away the darkness and allow my home to be a place of peace, love and joy. Amen.

Sare

My Walk, The Kiddos

Falling Behind

I’ve fallen behind on chronicling my walk of Faith, not because it isn’t important to me–it truly is. The last several weeks have been crazy, busy, and emotionally draining.

My father was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer, so we’ve been going through the steps to start treatment. There has been a lot of prayers coming from me in recent days, but there are truly times when I’m not sure I’m as good and faithful as I should be.

I’m never sure if I’m leading my children to the LORD or if they’re just along for the ride. I’m not sure if my actions are showing the changes the LORD is making in me, or if it is only something I see. Each and every day, I give the day to Him and ask that He blesses me and opens my heart to His word. To allow His light to shine through me so others may find His grace.

Each day I read about Christians who are making a difference in the world, and I wonder if there is more I should be doing. I’ve been active in my church, but as the days go by I wonder if I’ve taken on more than I should have, and if being involved in so many things is truly what the LORD had planned for me.

My daughter and I have slowly merged onto the Homeschool Highway. We’re reviewing the things she ‘learned’ in first grade. In most things I’m very grateful to her first grade teacher. We’ll be going full swing as soon as I’m sure we’ve got a good footing. This is a new adventure, and with everything else going on, it has made for some really stressful and scary moments.

I don’t often second guess myself, even before I realized our Heavenly Father was with me, but there have been days when I’ve had to send my kiddos to their rooms so I could have ten minutes to re-center myself with His word. There has been many, many moments of asking God if He was certain this was His path for me. Am I really doing the best thing for everyone?

So far, we’re still with it, and until the time when God opens a different door for us, it’s where we will stay.

May God Bless You and Keep You,

Sare