finding my way back

I started therapy a few months ago.

About a year ago I plunged into a pretty deep depression. Worse than that, or at least more overwhelming to consider, Matthew and I began to realize that I had actually been depressed for quite a long time. At the very least, since shortly after Eliza was born. Five years! Five years, at least, and I didn’t know it.

How is that possible?

Depression looks different on different people. For me, depression has been a slow sucking of color and life over the years. A narrowing of my emotional experience. A collection of reasons to explain why I felt the way I did, which had nothing to do with the real reason and were mostly completely untrue, but were compelling and replay themselves over in my head: I am lazy, I shouldn’t have had kids, I am just not nurturing enough to enjoy being a mom, I am just an angry person, I don’t connect with people, I am discontent. It happened really slowly, this narrowing–over years, until I was always a hair trigger away from freaking out, either in anger, anxiety, or sadness. And even then, my symptoms were “under control” enough that I wouldn’t have called it a panic attack, I wouldn’t have said I was depressed. I would have said–did say–that I was happy. Because I knew I should be. I knew my life was good. Hard, but isn’t it always?

So I started therapy a few months ago. I plan to write more about both the uncovering of my depression, and my feeble steps back to myself. Whoever she is.

My counselor gave me this homework last week: to answer the question, “When I make time for __________, I feel better.” Because people in my situation tend to forget what we like. What makes us us, our best selves.

When I write, I feel better.

When I write for an (even if imagined) audience, I feel better.

So I’m moving away from exclusively journaling and I’m posting this, my first real written post (that wasn’t a song) in over a year. I’m going to find my way back, with a lot of help.

This isn’t the end.


Postscript: If you aren’t sure how to talk to someone with depression, a good place to start is a very simple, “I’m so sorry you’ve been feeling badly.”  “I know you can’t feel this right now, but it will get better.” “You’re so much stronger than you know. I’m proud of you–this is really hard.” It’s not good to offer advice, ever, unless the person specifically asks you for it. Odds are, as smart individuals, they already know what they need to do. Don’t make them feel worse for not being able to do it. It’s also not great to say “I knew something was up with you,” or anything that will make the person feel worse for having to find their own way. 

Just keep it simple, express your care, and your sorrow that the person is having a hard time. That is more than enough, and will communicate your love. This is a good thing to keep in mind whenever anyone is having any kind of hard time, whether with mental illness, physical illness, death in the family–don’t keep quiet. But limit your words to words of care, and stay away from words of advice. 

A Psalm

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a song here, but I’ve been writing a ton this year. A ton for me, anyway. I’ve been working on mixing live recordings for Redeemer’s 2015 CD, so I finally have some songs to post!

I actually wrote this song last year, but the day we played it did not go so well. I’ve never gotten in out of my mind, though, and it continued to resonate with me. I remained convinced that it’s a really solid song, topically and musically, so we did it again yesterday, and it turned out much better. As the title indicates, I wrote this with the outline of many of the psalms in mind. Despair, reminder of God’s faithfulness, reminder to self to cling to him, and then a little more uplifted of a mindset, followed by the reminders again. As with many of the psalms, it is a prayer.

Hope you enjoy it!

Listen to “A Psalm”

Chord Chart

the lost story.

I was going through old drafts of blog posts this afternoon. I sometimes do this, when I’m aching to get back to writing; I go back and read through what I’ve written in the past, or listen to songs I’ve written. It’s totally narcissistic, really, but sometimes I need to remember that I can and do write, just to punch through that initial intimidation. Since it’s been just over four months since I’ve written anything here, I’ve read through my most recent posts a handful of times trying to prod myself back into it, so today I went through the drafts that have been stored, instead. And I came across a post I started almost four years ago. It contains an introduction, and then just two sentences of a short story I started.

As per my 25 in 25 list, here is my first short story. First draft, unedited. I just needed to get it out. I got the seed of the idea during a conversation while hanging out with a group of friends Thanksgiving evening. That group of friends is amazing…I cannot spend time with them without coming away desiring more creative expression. Everyone needs friends like that. 

When Edith Johnson heard the first shotgun blast that afternoon in mid-July, she was startled but not surprised. It had been coming to this for quite some time.

I have no memory of this. I’ve been repeating those sentences to myself for the past quarter hour, and while I’m starting to have the faintest recollection of them, I can’t remember writing them, much less remember the premise of the story.

As I’ve been thinking about the story, wracking my brain trying to remember it, I’ve begun to remember that night with our friends, which I’d also previously forgotten. I can remember the gang circled up in our friends’ living room, warmly lit with candles. I was sitting cross-legged on the loveseat next to Matthew, across the room from our friend John, who crossed his legs old man style when he was contemplative, and hunched over them, chin in hand. There was a lot of laughing, some serious talk too. I think we talked about tattoos, our friend Sara with tiny little outline tattoos on her neck and arm. We probably talked about Moderate Man, our group’s invented comedic super hero. I remember drinking coffee way too late at night, but it smelled too good to refuse. I remember feeling ecstatic to be away from my baby, who was down for the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. There’s even just the faintest echo of a memory of what the conversation was that sparked my idea for this short story, but I can’t remember it either.

I was soaking up that night. I was totally present. I loved every minute. And I think I probably thought I’d remember it forever.


Eliza has fallen asleep during our bedtime routine a few times in the last month. We sing so many songs every night after reading, whatever amount gets her to an acceptably relaxed state so I can leave the room and she won’t get up again, or at least only get up once. I watch her like a hawk, in the darkness, gauging her sleepiness so I can pop her into her bed at the perfect moment, before she gets a second wind or starts talking again. The few times she’s fallen asleep it’s been very sudden, from relaxed to snoring in an instant around the eighth or tenth song, and it catches me by surprise. I’ve been resisting the urge to dump her unceremoniously in her bed and run like hell, exuberant that the day is over and I’m free for an hour or two before I have to go to bed. Because while that’s how I may feel in the moment, in the bigger picture I don’t get these moments very often anymore with her and I want to savor them when they unexpectedly happen.

So I watch her sleep, see the contours of her face relax back into babyhood in slumber, that little face at once so familiar to me and so strange. I’ve known her her whole life, I think, and yet here she is, almost four, and this little person, so opinionated and curious and strong and vulnerable and I don’t know how it happened. I mean, I do know. We had this beautiful baby girl and then when she was still a baby we had another baby and then another. And here we are. I stare at her face, the one I remember staring at for hours in the middle of the night when she was first born, enamored and in awe of this tiny human we made, that didn’t exist at all before but was just…here now, here to stay. Here in the darkness, with no snack request forthcoming or demand for tv or question about the intricacies of  the universe or the whys of a conversation we’ve had, I swear, a million times before this, here in this silent pause, I can feel that same sense of wonder. Who are you, I wonder, and what are you going to be like? Because as much as I think I know her, she can still surprise me. As with anyone, I can only know her so much. This little person, that Matthew and I made, she just came out of nowhere and here she is, asleep next to me–in all her familiarity and mystery.

I kiss her sweet little baby soft cheek and gather her long big girl limbs up in my arms, awkwardly transitioning her into her bed. One last kiss on the head, and then I run like hell because soaking up the moments is great and everything, but I really do only have a few hours of freedom before I need to go to bed too, and a glass of wine is calling my name.

the itch you can’t scratch.

How to write: sit at desk. Look pained, as if you have a spastic colon. Feel deep self pity, & rage. Resent everyone. Then, bitterly, begin.

-Anne Lamott, via Twitter, succinctly captures my own experience in a few words, just as she does for so many, so often.


I’ve been writing a lot again, of my own volition instead of just for work. It’s been wonderfully  nostalgic to feel that compulsion to write, the need to create something. I’ve played my guitar nearly every day, and written something every week for over a month. It’s been amazing, and I’m really excited to be in this place, but…it’s also been kind of awful. I don’t have much free time during the day, so any time I’m writing and playing, it’s at the expense of something else. My house vacillates between being cluttered and being downright in shambles every few days, the laundry is piled up, not to mention the dishes, and some days the kids watch way more tv than I think is probably best. I write in five minute bursts, leaving my guitar on the kitchen table to go grab snacks for the kids, or to quell some minor disaster in the making (like beer bottle bowling–totally happened the other day. I have a genius for a three year old daughter). These things are minor hiccups, looked on with as much affection as annoyance even now and, I suspect, even more in the future. The worst part is the state of my emotions as I attempt to reimmerse myself into the habit of writing. It’s not been graceful immersion, more like a slipped-on-a-banana-peel-all-limbs-flailing-descent into the depths of artistic expression.

I’m definitely in the angst-ridden, self-critical stage during which I consider everything I play or write and feel deep, deep loathing. It is not fun. In my experience, though, the more disgust I feel when I begin, the greater the payoff when I make it through to the other side. Whether I gain some ability, or end up with a song I love, I think something great is going to come out of this.

It’s been radio silent over here for a little while, and that’s due to an overabundance of thoughts rather than a lack of them. I hope to begin writing here again, too. Soon.