Monday, March 30, 2015

When Life Is Like a Box of CON STRUCT O STRAWS

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Do any of you 70s or 80s kids remember playing with CON STRUCT O STRAWS? I do, and apparently this toy frustrated me. The caption my mom wrote on the back of the above photo reads: "Brandi's frustrated."

Story of my life.

(More proof of Brandi's frustrated moments. Mom's caption reads: "Brandi very upset." I can't blame her for capturing these hilarious moments on film; I've captured quite a few of my own kids' not-so-happy moments.)

It stinks to have a glass-half-empty approach to life. My excuse? That sin nature thing. I was born with a melancholy disposition mixed with bouts of extreme frustration. I've heard countless stories about how I cried all of the time as a baby, about how my mom had to incessantly walk me around the nursery to help calm me down (I hated to be rocked in the rocking chair), and about how I'd scream my way through each baby milestone.

For instance, my mom vividly recalls watching me trying to roll over for the first time. She claims I screamed in anger and frustration until I accomplished what I'd set out to do. We both laugh at the memory. It is kind of funny thinking that a baby could get so mad about something like that. Thank goodness I had a momma who loved me despite my orneriness.

Another thing that makes me laugh is when my mom tells me that I stuck my lip out at everybody, especially men. Supposedly I didn't like deep voices or other sudden, loud noises. And SURPRISE, I was an extremely light sleeper. So, the teeniest, tiniest noise would wake me up. I can almost hear my mom in 1976 sigh as the calm-Brandi-down-cycle started all over again. (Don't worry, I've been paid back in full with children challenges of my own!!)

I guess it's safe to say that I wasn't a very happy baby. And I'll add to that - not much of a people person either. Unless it was my momma.

Okay, one last trip down memory lane while we're on the subject of my melancholy-ness from birth. I think melancholy people can tend to not only be downers at times but also kind of particular about things. Yeah, I'm no exception there.

I couldn't stand to be messy or dirty as a baby, so I'm told. I cried if baby food ended up on my face instead of in my mouth, and if I happened to be outside, I crawled without letting my knees touch the ground so they wouldn't get dirty. Wow.

Baby recap: fussy, frustrated, mad, clean, sleepless, noise-hater, particular. Hmmm, not much has changed. Just ask my hubby! ;)

Before I get on to the real reason I am writing this post, let me be a bit more fair. I did have some happy moments. It wasn't all muck and misery. Here's a little smile:

What does my melancholy childhood have to do with today? One of the negatives of having a melancholy disposition is being depression prone. I've struggled with bouts of depression on and off in my life. And, well, I began 2015 down in the depression dump. Ho hum.

As I write this post, I am on the mend, praise God! However, for the past few months I've experienced lack of motivation, lack of joy, lack of passion for life. Thankfully, I'm a doer and don't like to sit around much unless I'm reading. While I struggle with lack of energy, I can still pour myself into tasks - keep busy to keep from stinkin' thinkin'. Until I turn out the lights and pull up the covers. Thoughts flood. Tears flow.

If you've struggled with depression, I know you can relate. If you haven't, I know it can be difficult to understand, especially when things don't really look all that bad on the outside.

When I'm depressed life is like a box of CON STRUCT O STRAWS. In the first photo of this post, I am sitting smack in the middle of a pile of CON STRUCT O STRAWS. I can't seem to get this image out of my mind! It's the perfect illustration for how I'm feeling about my life. I'm sitting in a pile of pieces all strewn about but not sure how they all fit together. I don't know where to begin. Without focus, without a plan, they're all just random parts that don't seem to be able to make a single thing.

When life's pieces resemble a pile of CON STRUCT O STRAWS, depression hovers like fog and tempts me to weep and gnash my teeth and throw the pieces as far away from me as possible. Then forget about them. As if that were possible.

Forget about patience in trials. Forget about leaning not on my own understanding. Forget about finding joy in the journey. Forget about how God is working all things for my good. Grrrrrrr.

I lose focus. I set my sight on things physical instead of things eternal. I question God's plan instead of willingly submit to it. In the midst of depression, it can be really hard to muddle through the fog. Hope seems as far away as the moon, and I always seem on the verge of tears. *Sigh*

Understanding depression whys can be complicated. But for me, I feel like I can trace its roots back to sin. The sin of discontent. Not being joyful in the midst of my circumstances. Instead of offering a sacrifice of praise to the One who orchestrates every facet of my life, I turn to complaining and shaking my fist. It's not fair - why can't life be simple? Or what I'm really saying is why can't life be all about me and my happiness? As a born again believer, I know God is more concerned about my holiness, chiseling His Son from out of this lump of mess called my flesh.

I do believe that my circumstances can play a part but only a part. I don't spiral down to the depths of despair every time I experience trials. However, I think I've experienced a lot of change in the past few years, and I usually don't do well with change. I can only take so much, or so I tell myself. Little by little my focus begins to shift or maybe it happens in a blink of an eye. I really don't know. Focus shifts from God to myself.

There are other factors that seem to affect my sinking into the pit: weather - seriously, I usually experience true depression during winter months. Feeling like a failure - and there are plenty of things right now in which I am feeling like a failure. Feeling like I don't fit in . . . I guess I could go on, but I'm not sure there'd be a point to it.

I've heard some suggest hormones or a chemical imbalance could be the cause. I'm not saying that for some people that might be the case, but I really don't think it is for me. Even if a doctor said I had a chemical imbalance, and even if I believed him, I'd probably be the type of person to say that depression caused the chemical imbalance. Not vice versa. But that's just me.

Whatever the cause or causes, depression has yucky side effects. When I'm depressed I feel lonely even if I'm surrounded by people. I don't eat as healthy, because who cares, right? Then I gain a few pounds and feel even more miserable. My energy levels drop. I feel tired even after sleeping all night. Little, everyday problems seem bigger than they really are. Goodness, and I HATE feeling like I'm going to cry all of the time! 

I certainly don't feel like blogging when I'm depressed. Even when I want to write about something, it's like I don't have the motivation or brain power to do it. I don't know, but I think writing takes more energy than manual labor! I've got quite a few unfinished drafts, so hopefully, since the fog is beginning to lift, I will be posting more. :)

* If you really want to frustrate your children, you can still buy the original 1974 CON STRUCT O STRAWS!

And, of course, that's an affiliate link. ;)

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