Two Ways to Fight Depression {or Discouragement}

by Laura on February 7, 2011

If you have struggled or are struggling with depression {or discouragement}, I hope this post will be helpful, though it’s an admittedly longer one than usual.  Please understand that I speak not as an expert of any kind, but merely as one who’s tasted the weighty dark depression/discouragement which can bring. And while I talk here about practical things that are helping me personally, I recognize that sometimes medication is a viable option to correct chemical imbalances, too.

Whether its culture shock or the isolation homeschooling naturally brings or the simple fact that I am, indeed, a hormonal girl, I must admit:

This year I have battled depression.

Correction– I am still battling depression {or long-term discouragement?}.

And while I am generally a positive person– one of those annoying glass-perpetually-half-full types– this last year has seen me much more Eeyore than I’d like to admit. Honestly, there are some days when I wake to a cloud that just won’t lift. The weight of the kids’ school and the dishes and the meals I-can’t- figure-out-how-to-make suffocate, and I sink deeper into the pit. The stress of learning a language and driving in Asian traffic and meeting the needs of these four under this roof overwhelm.

And so I growl until bedtime, and go to sleep hoping that tomorrow will somehow be different.

And, sometimes, morning-sun makes yesterday’s pit a distant-memory.

But, oftentimes, the fog is right there, waiting.  Weighting on my chest.

And, this, I am discovering, is no way to live.

And maybe you sit there and quietly nod your head.  Maybe you’ve got an infant that interrupts sleep or maybe you have kids crawling the walls of a long, cold winter.  Maybe you’re tasting the change or perhaps you’re sinking in the lack of just that.  And if this happens to be you, now or in the past, let me say simply that

you are not alone.

And from one pit-battler to another, I wanted to share two practices that are helping fight the clouds, over in my corner of the world right now . . .


1. Exercise.  In the past, working out has been an option– a resolution to lose weight or an activity to do while chatting with a friend and enjoying the free childcare.   Not anymore. I am beginning to think of it as important as taking antibiotics when I’ve been diagnosed with strep– it’s a medicine I can’t skip because of convenience.

And since gyms are too far away and childcare isn’t an option, I’ve had to get creative.  Several times a week now, I pay my daughter and son (ages 7 and 5) to “babysit” the toddler (for 10 baht each–the equivalent of  about 35 cents), while I attend “fitness class” in my upstairs laundry area, in front of a mini-DVD player set up on the ironing board.  On the wood floor, in front of the wrinkled clothes awaiting the steam, I sit-up and kick-box and hip-roll. I’m not saying it’s pretty, but I am saying it’s a medicine that I can feel work— in my attitude, energy, perspective, and confidence. {I mostly do P90X, but I also have been known to, don’t laugh, Zumba.}


And this morning, Cade put Ava’s dress on backwards and Kelty fixed toast topped with cool whip for breakfast, but my kids enjoyed a happier mom from 9 am, on.  And in the bigger picture, I am learning that loving them means fighting for a healthier me.

2. Give Thanks. I am finding that the farther and farther I walk down the road of discouragement during a day, the more momentum it takes to switch gears and hop to a different, more positive track.  The earlier I can recognize my feet slipping into the pit and fight that slide, the better chance I have of not completely sinking for the whole day.  I am learning, too, that my discouragement is dealt a mighty blow when I choose to focus on the things I do have, instead of the things I’d like changed.  Here are some specific ideas to practice gratitude (for you and for the fam):

**  Two-Minute Thanks: Gather the family around and set a timer for two minutes.  Have everyone shout out things they are thankful for and see if you can fill up a paper with gifts listed.  Then, read the list aloud.

**  Get Sent to the Fridge: Put a piece of construction paper on the fridge with each family member’s name on it.  When anyone in the family is being negative or slipping into a complaining attitude, have that person go to the fridge and write/draw three things he/she is thankful for before the return back to whatever activity he/she was doing.  You, of course, participate, too.  Let the kids “catch you” being negative and send you to the fridge sometimes.  This is a great tool for the average homeschooling day, when attitudes start the downhill trek.

**  Marble Jar:  Set a glass jar on the table with a small bowl of marbles/rocks beside it.  Tell your kids that you want to see if you can fill the jar up by gratitude.  For each thing you/they can think of to give thanks for throughout the day, write it down on a list and put a marble in the jar.  See if you can fill it up in a day, and then read the list at the end of the day.

**  Make a List.  I am reading Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts right now, and I am loving it.  Her challenge is to keep a list of gratitude constantly going throughout the day, week, year, and I am finding this as a practical way to shift my focus.  I have an unlined pad of paper laying out on my counter that begs to be added to daily, and this recording of gifts is causing me to slow down and enjoy, more.

Really, it’s working.

“Don’t let the swamp be my grave, the Black Hole

Swallow me, its jaws clenched around me.

Now answer me, God, because you love me,

Let me see your great mercy full-face.”

– the Message, psalms 69

How about you?  Struggling with depression?  What practices pull you out of the pit?

  • http://kendalprivette.blogspot.com kendal

    i’ve struggled with depression off and on since 6th grade. exercise and giving thanks are awesome soul lifters. the exrecise i’ve had. the intentional thanks is new. and take medication right now. and i’ve seen counselors. there’s a stigma attached to the meds. i feel like in the christian world people believe it’s cheating to take meds. like i don’t have enough faith or can’t pray correctly. but….my doc says things like chemical imbalance and the fog lifts when i’m on the meds. so i take them and enjoy life fog-free. parying fo ryou laura. i know what it feels like.

    • http://kendalprivette.blogspot.com kendal

      dang. i misspelled like ten thousand things there. “I” take meds right now. “praying for you” ha!

      • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

        Kendal, and just fyi, I did add a little disclaimer at the beginning that talks briefly about the option of medication.

        And, I DID add the “edit comment” plug in!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Kendal,

      Thank you for bringing up the important truth about the goodness of taking meds, when needed. Yes, I totally think some Christians have a negative view of medication (WHY??), and I am so glad you have seen the benefits of it. I totally get that there are seasons or even long-term-seasons where chemical imbalance is very real, and thus, medicine is the better option.

      Thanks for sharing this Kendal, so honestly. I have just stepped into this realm and have a tiny taste of what so many struggle with so intensely. I am sooo happy you are able to live “fog-free”– I like that!

      Oh, and you are awesome.

      Oh, and I will go get that plug-in that let’s you edit comments right now. Sorry about that. I do that allll the time and feel like a dork. :)

  • http://jbeane6.wordpress.com jan

    Depression…argh! Especially here in the darkness of winter…argh! I have used meds to help get out of the pit. Light has also helped! Sometimes hearing my dear husband say, “This surely has been a taxing winter.” also helps.
    But for God’s grace I would have gone down.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Jan, I lived in the mountains of Colorado and winter was ALWAYS a hard season to struggle through. Hang in there . . .

  • Grace

    Amazing post! I love your ideas- very practical. I hope you feel MUCH better soon.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Grace, thanks. :)

  • http://kristenbalvin.blogspot.com Kris

    Hi Laura-
    I agree with you that exercise and giving thanks are huge in battling regular depression. They have helped me immensely. I would add a third: admitting to someone else that I am struggling. I tended to think that I had to make it on my own, but I have found that simply telling my husband or a close friend that I am struggling helps me. Maybe it lightens the load. In the end I think we need to do all three to get the maixmum benefit.
    My mom struggled with depression for years- with and without medication. Unfortunately, when she would begin to feel better she would stop the meds. And the cycle would begin again. What I learned from her is that I need to recognize the symptoms early – and increase my exercise, eat right, rest, and give thanks for even small blessings – to keep depression from ruling my life.
    Take care, Laura – and know that you are not alone in this – and that your Heavenly Father is there helping you each moment.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Kris– GREAT advice to TELL SOMEONE. Absolutely there is an accountability and a goodness to let others in on the struggle. THanks for reminding us of that.

      And thanks for sharing your story about your mom- about the cycle depression can become.

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  • Amy

    The part that struck me is how we “should focus on things we do have, not things we want changed.” Thanks for reminding me of that perspective. Love you.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Ames,

      It’s the least I could do since I couldn’t participate in the murder mystery party this weekend.

      Love you,
      Mean it.

  • http://www.tapestryofgrace-carol.blogspot.com Carol

    “And while I am generally a positive person– one of those annoying glass-perpetually-half-full types–”

    Laura, I don’t mean to miss the point of your post, but the above quote brought a smile to my face.

    um, yes. yes, you are a glass half full kind of girl.

    And while you are waist deep in change on every front, and shocked by how outrageously hard it has been, you continue to find the half full side of things. For example . . .
    *cool whip covered toast = the kids respected my request for a few extra minutes (Kelty can make breakfast in this house any day!)
    *care package/skype/email allow us to stay connected to family (you have been honest about the other side of this, but you haven’t lost sight of the gift)
    *finding the good in Matt, even when it would be so much easier to highlight the frustrating aspects of living with a man who is less than a year into a brand new, challenging job

    Your struggle is real. Even roses have lost their idenity. You will never see the world the same. And yet, all that you knew to be true is now more real than ever.

    You are not a half empty kind of girl. Nor,are you the kind of girl who claims to fill her own glass. You have known for many years that God fills the glass, and that is why you could cling to the truth of its fullness. While the intangible quality of optimism might wane, your belief in an OVERFLOWING glass has not.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Carol–

      You are such an encouragement! Really, SUCH a gift to me in this comment. THanks for taking the time away from homeschooling four young children to write it. Thanks for that last paragraph especially. Love you guys, L

  • http://www.lisasmithblog.com Lisa Smith

    Just found you and already love you. I have struggled with depression for most of my life. The fog recently descended again when I was diagnosed with cancer last year…Now the cancer is thankfully staying away but the fog still rolls in from time to time.

    And yes, both are great ways to roll it away. I’ve found my diet plays a roll too in helping me to have more energy which leads to exercising which leads to a better outlook. But it is all for nothing without gazing on Him first.

    Looking forward to getting to know you better. :) And praying for you and your family.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Lisa, thanks for stopping by! Thanks for your comments about diet playing a roll, too. I can only imagine the physical battle you have personally faced over the last year and what that must do to your tendency for depression.

      My favorite line–

      “But it is all for nothing without gazing on Him first.”

      Yes.

  • flyinjuju

    I just so appreciate that you share all of this. I have struggled this year as well. I was just talking to hubby the other night that I always used to be a half-full kind of gal and now I am like 3/4 empty. I feel like some days are great and then others, not so much, and those days are more frequent than I care for them to be. I totally agree that exercise helps a ton and prayer. I had started a Thankfulness journal in November and that was a blessing. I should probably keep it going. I try to remember that during these times when there are more “negative” emotions that it is often during those times that I am more sensitive and hungry for the Father’s voice. It is always nice to know you are not alone, thanks. 😉

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Totally get the “negative’ emotions and the natural soul-hunger that brings into a day. Hang in there, new friend! I totally get, too, that it’s easy to start a pattern of gratitude, and then forget about it, and not be consistent with it. I wonder if I will keep my own list going in two months, ya know? Gosh, I hope so, but I know myself and I know that consistency is not my strong-suit.

  • evan stookey

    First off, i think its awesome that the kids get to babysit ava. this is probably bigger than you think, becuase i remember my mom used to let me do this, and it meant the world to me! I felt like i had a responsibility, and even if i didn’t do a great job, my mom always was proud of me and it made me want to have more responsibility:)

    its funny how exercise has a way of lifting depression, getting blood flow going, releasing endorphins, etc. but ive found, like you, it doesn’t equate to complete happiness or gratitude. it does help shift the mood early in the day– essential– but not complete. therefore, what you wrote in the second part was awesome for me to read, realizing that we need more.

    ive learned over the past year that gratitude is a choice, like a posture. its a “thinking” game, not a “feeling” game. and its crazy because naturally we can be more positive/negative people, but we all are in control of our thoughts. our neuropathways are travelled frequently in the same routes in our brains, and so for some of us its a training ground– a discipline– to think in different ways. luckily for you you’re positive! but yes, over time ive found that we can create different thoughts and by doing daily disciplines our outlook can change and therefore everything can change!

    like this: two people can be in prison and have the same expeirence. after one year you could interview them, and they could actually have a much different experience after the year, even though they DID the same things. the only thing that gave that one person an extraordinary and fulfilling experience was solely PERSPECTIVE.

    life is not always fun… life has been amazing for me up until, well the past year or so. i thought life was always going to be the easy-cake utopia of WP, but turns out no. I hope that even though life sucks sometimes, you guys, and all of us can grow to have healthy perspectives in all situations. I feel like i personally need it most, but you guys are REALLY facing opposition; you guys are REALLY going against the grain there, so my heart goes out to YOU!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Evan, dude, what a great comment! Thank you for taking the time to post it.

      I love what you said about the mind being a training ground for disciplining our thoughts. I think there is a lot of truth there. It’s so easy to naturally default to negativity, “realism”, the struggle, instead of naturally defaulting to gratitude.

      I wonder what my discouragement and contentment levels would be if I went into like “thankful-ness bootcamp.” If I chose to consistently, daily, hourly, explode with gratitude for all that my hands hold.

      Thanks, Evan–
      Hang in there, yourself.

  • Lisa L.

    Hi Laura,

    I GET THIS.

    I don’t have children, but I’ve gone through so much change this past 18 months or so, and I’m realizing that uh, I don’t like change. Not anymore, anyway. I’m tired of being buffeted and I like things being easy and comfortable. Oy.

    I heard a quote once that said, “All change is loss.” We mourn what we once had. Then I feel guilty, like I want to go back to Egypt instead of on to the Promised Land God’s got for me. I know He’s sifting and refining me, and oh boy, my flesh is like, NO.

    I hate those days when my spirit is heavy, heavy. I’ve been in that place, too, where my motivation for exercising was to help keep that heaviness (no pun intended) away. It does.

    I’m finding that the only thing that makes the darkness go POOF is when God Himself shows me how near He is. I need that. No mental acknowledgment only, or reading about Him at a distance – I need HIM.

    I really appreciate your honesty in all you’ve shared here, Laura. Hope these ramblings have made some sense. I wish we could share a cup of coffee because I think we could enourage one another just by being honest and not all “wheee, everything’s perfect!” :)

    Lisa

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Lisa, I smiled when I read your comment, especially your last statement. :)

      And I loved that quote you shared about change and loss– and I think that is so true. That we mourn and idealize what we once had.

      And yes, we desperately need Jesus, don’t we?

  • Sharon O

    If I had to live in a foreign country even if I chose to do it… even if I wanted to and thought it was a calling of mine…I would not manage well. I am not one who likes to be out of the norm… I like the same everything every day ‘don’t rock my boat’ kind of person.
    I would not blame you for being depressed. especially after you posted the large ‘lizard thing’ on your wash line?? I am sure that was your post.
    E-gads I would panic, I honestly don’t know how most of you missionaries do it. You are much stronger than I am.
    take care

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Sharon,

      Friend, I PROMISE I am not as “strong” as you might think. The real heroes are those ladies hacking it out in the big highrises of China or the huts of Africa or the tiny apartments in the Middle East. I think, honestly, in many ways, in Chiang Mai, I have so many more comforts than those in other parts of the world. But, you know, it’s ALL relative, isn’t it? We all have things that are really hard and really easy about our lives– in the U.S. and here and there and
      everywhere.

      But, yeah, the lizards aren’t my fav.

  • http://www.sixbrickshigh.com Jamie

    Laura,

    Choosing to be thankful has been huge for me. I’ve got to be deliberate about the things I let my mind dwell on. And I’ve been taking a B-complex vitamin that seems to be helping too.

    The exercise on the other hand, I’m not doing so good at. I really want to change this though!

    Thanks for sharing. Sometimes just knowing your not alone really helps too.

    I’m off to look for some Zumba videos on You Tube.

    Jamie

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Jamie– thanks for being honest about what’s working and what is still a struggle. You know, honestly, since I wrote that, I haven’t worked out once– and it’s been 5 days!!! So much for taking my own advice! Argh. But, now it is 7 30 at night and while I told myself I would do it after the kids are in bed, I so just want to get a Coke Zero and watch a movie with my husband.

      Thank heavens that there is always tomorrow, right? For both of us. :)

  • http://www.hopeworks.ca Michelle

    Thanks for coming and visiting my website. I have been blogging intermittently for years, but am only recently really joining up with the blog world. Love it!! Am waiting for my copy of Ann’s book to come! So am excited to get caught up with reading!

    About your post today… I am so with you on the exercise thing! My husband sometimes will come home and see that I am barely coping and will politely ask, “do you wanna go to the gym?” He knows! Exercise for me is like an antidepressant!! Keeps me sane! And luckily for me, we do have a gym in our little town and they have free daycare!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura@life overseas

      Michelle– yes, let us not neglect to give thanks for a husband that can say,

      “Um, why don’t you hit the gym today, honey?”

      when he knows we are about to lose it and that would be a good getaway.

      Glad you have a gym–even in Africa!

  • Tamara

    Thanks for sharing – sharing that you are a lot like a lot of all of us (look at the number of posts all saying they have dealt / are dealing with depression/discouragement!!!).
    “Loving them means fighting for a healthier me.” – great quote! Great lesson for all stay-at-home moms!
    I, too, am struggling a bit now . . . having come out of some life-changingly difficult years I should be completely joyful and find, instead the cloud you mentioned.
    Yes! Exercise helps as does a gratitude journal as does time in the Word.
    Hugs to you, little one, who still seems to be at the VERY least glass with water somewhere in the middle!!! Praying for your cup to overflow!

  • http://www.wimberlys.blogspot.com Cheryl

    I, like so many others, was encouraged by this post. I appreciate your honesty. I definitely fight big mood swings and have most of my life. This past year has been a broken year for me and through it God has taught me so much. One resource that has helped me has been, John Piper’s book “When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy.” The fight for joy part is what caught my attention so I picked it up and have told so many people about it because it has really challenged and helped me. It was so good for me to read that, as believers, we have to fight for joy. Like in Timothy 6:12, where it says, we have to “fight the good fight of the faith.” It has helped me realize that it’s a battle raging inside me and that the Enemy wants to steal my joy. I have to
    cling to the cross and not let go.
    Anyways, thanks again.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Cheryl, that is definitely going to be my next Kindle purchase! Thanks so much for the suggestion. I am really intrigued by that idea– the FIGHT for JOY.

      Sometimes the battle is a long and bloody one, isn’t it?

      Thanks for letting us know that title.

      • http://www.wimberlys.blogspot.com Cheryl

        Yes, I am learning the battle can be quite bloody. I hope you enjoy the book and that God uses it in your life, like He has mine.

        Oh, and last night was one of those night where my husband recognized the “edginess” and asked if I wanted to exercise. So I hit the bike trainer in our garage while he made the kids dinner. 30 minutes was all I needed. I am so thankful for him and his willingness to help me during these little years.

  • http://www.stumblingaroundinthelight.com Teri Miller

    Today, Laura, TODAY – I have been losing it.
    Losing.
    It.
    you know: “it” – my hope, thankfulness, gratitude, patience, smile – and taking “it” out on my kids. grrrrr….
    I needed these words. ToDAY.
    Going stir-crazy with sub-zero temps, foot-of-snow, grey-sky winter-blizzard blues.
    Have GOT to exercise. and WRITE my gratitude. and pick up Ann’s book again.
    Thanks, Laura.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Oh, Teri– ugh. I so remember the HARD LONG of winter. It’s like all the distractions are stripped and everyone is stuck together all day and all the uck jus seems to slosh out more, ya know? Oh, friend, hang in there . . . keep fighting —

      Today may you view your ‘winter’ as a fire, testing you, growing you.

      Thanks for being honest– as always.

      love, Laura

  • http://www.adoptionoverseas.blogspot.com Annie

    I don’t think I struggle with depression, per se. However, I do go through ups and downs with major lack of motivation and procrastination and it really just bugs me to the core! Seriously, I have thank you cards sitting on my table (for 3 weeks) that just need addresses, it’s on my list, along with finishing reports for my volunteer work, (and 5 million other mom things), then why do I chose to come here and blog and visit, whenI just need to put those darn addresses on??

    I think feeling like this is more common than we think and that everyone struggles with it to some degree.

    God is good and so merciful. Your post about swimming upstream has been an encouragement. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis, LOL! (I’m 43), but I want to do amazing things for God – travel -share – grow, and it starts with getting my stuff done here and moving forward and never stopping. I don’t want to be sitting here 20 years from now wishing I had done something amazing.

    I find going to work is a HUGE help. I work part time, but I love getting ready, making sure everything is in order at home, and having the responsibility to be somewhere at a certain time. It forces me to keep at it. If I were to stay home everyday, I believe I would procrastinate more!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Annie– totally agree that being scheduled helps. When I am busier, sometimes I am more productive! I really have to fight that tendency to “be lazy” as I have to force myself to try to stick to routine, since I am home with the kids daily. I can totally procrastinate, too!

  • http://makeroomfor.blogspot.com/ Tracey

    When I saw you were following my tweets I decided to come and check you out. So nice to be here and get to know you a little.

    I have had 2 major depressive episodes that required medication (that sounds very clinical, not sure if I made it up or that is a legitimate phrase!) The last one was over 10 years ago and I pray to never have another one.

    I read a great book last year when things got a little heavy and I felt depression creeping in, it’s called “Happiness is a Choice.” The title sound hokey, but it is the best book I have read on the subject.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Thanks for the advice on the book! I always love hearing about what works for people . . . thanks for stopping by, Tracey. :)

  • http://blmerrill.blogspot.com Branson @ My Reflection of Something

    This post was featured as one of “The Best of the Best” on my blog this week! Thanks for being an awesome blogger!

    http://blmerrill.blogspot.com/2011/02/best-of-best-february-11.html

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Well, Branson, I am flattered. Thanks for including me. :)

  • http://www.findmeinseptember.org erinbeth

    Laura~ I just really really love your blog. I should comment more, so you know I’m here. Reading. Thinking and praying for you.

    Anyway, as you already know I have struggled with depression my whole life until the last couple of years. (“struggle with depression” feels like a severe understatement). God healed me in a miraculous way.

    But, I still struggle with anxiety, control, discouragement, and sadness. I’m also reading Ann’s book One Thousand Gifts and man- it changing my life! I haven’t started my gratitude journal yet but already- my perspective is changing. And not just a little, but kind of drastically. That in combination with the sermon our pastor, Matt, preached yesterday on what Heaven will be like- and I am really beginning to feel like a new person.
    So much more appreciation for everything, even the bad things.
    So much more acceptance of where I am in life.
    A deeper desire to really really know God.

    Sorry- I know I’m rambling! I probably should have just sent you an email. Haha!

    Thanks for writing this.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Thanks for being honest. Thanks for your encouraging words. Thanks for being authentic and real and wanting Jesus, more. And thanks for sharing your story over your way, too . . . you are living a powerful redemption story. Yes, that’s true.

      And I agree, there is something to gratitude that fights off the blackest days.

  • julie

    As one intimately acquainted with the discouragement-from-culture-shock these days, I am grateful for this post, and for the reader comments. Good reminders.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Julie–I really do think the Culture-Shock issue is a major catalyst for some foggy days. I hear it gets better after a year, and we are coming up on that . . . but, who knows? I guess in the meantime, we keep eyes up and feet moving forward. Hang in there, Julie.

  • http://establishingchristianparenting.blogspot.com/ Debra Ann Elliott

    Thank you for sharing. That’s why I write to keep somekind of sanity. I author 5 blogs!

  • http://www.liliannagrace.blogspot.com Lilianna Grace

    Found you from Reflection of Something’s Blog. I’m a first time reader. Thank you for sharing this.

  • http://www.tribaltalk.blogspot.com Josie

    I stumbled across your blog through a friend’s FB post today, and as I read I felt like you’ve walked in my shoes. I’m also in Asia – we’re in the same time zone, only I’m further south. I too have found P90X to be a relief from the “storm”, especially the stretching disc. To me it feels like a hug. (Even better, my two-year-old daughter loves exercising with me!) I will try to add in the “Thankfulness Therapy” the next time I feel the storm coming. I feel like I’ve chased Joy for so long, only to find that it’s a CHOICE I need to make (James 1:2 – when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy). Sometimes that’s a really hard choice to make (rather than running to things that don’t really “do it”). The best thing about this situation is that I’m here because this is where I need to be, for this season, however long it lasts, and I’m content (not always joyful, yet). God is good. Thanks for expressing yourself so well – I’m nodding here in SE Asia.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Josie, Wow, so glad to have connected with you via blog-land. So glad to have “met” another Asian-mom. How long have ya’ll been here? Glad you are fighting for joy and working out! I’m actually off to do Zumba now on this saturday morning . . .

      Love to you and yours, actually on your Saturday morning, too,
      Laura

      • http://www.tribaltalk.blogspot.com Josie

        Laura, We’ve been here since 2006. We came with a 6 y.o., 4 y.o. and an 18 mo. old. Now they’re 10, 8, 6 and I had a fourth here by emergency c-section. She’s now 2. Life is full! (Incidentally, I just read your post about community to my husband which led to a good discussion – you had some points that will be “poking” me for a while!) I’ll be adding your blog to my reader – looking forward to keeping up with you! Grace to you and your family! Have a great week! Josie

  • http://CKBARBER.TUMBLR.COM Caitlin

    Laura,
    You are so wonderful. I needed this today.
    I’m working 60 hours/week now and I’m realizing the importance of owning my day, being intentional with my thoughts/actions – and recognizing the positive, even when stress is ready to pounce (and sometimes, already has).
    You inspire me and I LOVE you. Stay strong, Laura. We all love you so much :)
    – Caitlin

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Caitlin–

      Girl, I hear you– when stress is “ready to pounce”, the temptation to focus on the negative spikes up high.

      Hang in there, you working-girl-you. I think when you have a lot on your plate, time-wise, an important thing to think about is how to redeem the little pockets of time you do have– like the drive to work, etc. Love you!

  • http://www.dberruti.blogspot.com Deb.

    Laura, THANK YOU for this post!! I serve in west Africa at the edge of the Sahara and some days it just feels IMPOSSIBLE! I, too, find ‘giving thanks’ to be a wonderful tool to combat the discouragement . . . and today I needed a reminder of that!
    Deb.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Deb– West Africa seems so tough! Ugh- hang in there, new friend. This “missionary thing”‘ is no joke– this stuff is HARD, right? Lots harder than I expected, too . . . keep pressing on. Keep your eyes UP.

  • http://www.heseesme.wordpress.com Danelle

    I came over to your blog from today’s incourage post. Your words on “discouragement” really encouraged me. I battle needing someone to verbally tell me that I’m “ok”. . I even sometimes look to people to second the motions that God has called me to do.
    Last night I met with a friend for coffee and I was transparent about this. How I need to feel encouraged just knowing that He loves me, His plans. It’s easy to type. . hard to live.
    Thanks for sharing your story. I think you are a talented writer and I love your blog. I will be checking in regularly and praying for you and your sweet family.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Danelle, Thanks for stopping in and for being honest about your struggle. I think that talking to another friend is huge– there is freedom in the confession, the admission of struggle/depression. So glad you were encouraged today . . .keep looking UP.

      Love from here, Laura

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  • http://www.girlwithanotebook.com Val

    Laura, I am so glad you posted this. Our chronic military moves grieve my heart, and I wrestle with finding the JOY. . .I’m encouraged by all the struggles and hugs in this thread. (Ironically, the last time I posted a comment was in a post you wrote on moving. . . and I sounded a lot more UP in that comment.) Lately, I’ve been in the trough of the wave. It seems less like depression and more like appropriate grief. The worst days are the days when I’m too numb to write. For all sorts of reasons, but I’m pushing through. At the core, it’s a deep longing for the HOME that he’s preparing for us. God is so good and I will take the gypsy life and the creative peaks and valleys. It’s wicked hard sometimes, isn’t it? But I am thankful for friends for the journey. Even if they are across the ocean and in all directions. Thank you for being honest. There is hope and healing in your truth telling. xo

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  • Michelle

    I just received the smaller version of 1000 gifts…I felt God was speaking to me about gratefulness especially as we approach our 6 month mark overseas. I am DEPRESSED< DISCOURAGED< and having a hard time pulling out of it…but I am thankful God is there through it and I a thankful for your honest Blog…because I was started to feel so much guilt for feeling this way.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Wow, Michelle, you are in the thick of it. I remember my first year was the most brutal. Thanks for reaching out and admitting the struggle– gosh that is so important. I can’t say it will all get better by any means, but I can say that God is right. now. shaping you in beautiful ways you can’t even imagine.

      I am praying for you and your heart tonight . . .. just hang on and keep you eyes UP, friend.
      love, Laura

  • Stacie

    i just stumbled on your blog from your recent trafficking post. i have worked in a red light district for a few years. i moved home for a year and a half to help with my family and now i’m back. with my new husband. and i am in the middle of transition, depression, discouragement. again. i remember the first time i moved for about the first 6 months i was depressed and then life went on. i learned through that that the Giver is way better than the gift. so i’m two months into it now and i’m depressed. it’s ridiculous really because i am one blessed girl. but then i think “is this my life?” but i chose this. and i love my husband but oh my goodness there is a lot to learn now that we’re living together (we were a long distance relationship). anyhow, i’m encouraged that it’s only a season and there are ways to combat it, but my question is this: what do you do when you just feel like wallowing in it? i know it’s not helpful but i almost feel like i don’t have the energy to even try to be grateful or get over it. i just want to feel sorry for myself. any advice besides suck it up and do what you’ve got to do? thanks for being transparent in your blogs. i just started my own blog to help process with transition bc i like to write, and i’m trying to be transparent but gosh it’s hard when you know people will be reading! :)

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