Pastor Brad Hoefs

Pastor | Author | Speaker | Hope Coach | Mental Health Advocate

A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

Over the last 30 years, I’ve spent untold hours doing pastoral counseling with what seems to be a “gazillion” or more individuals, couples and families. I’ve heard just about everything and seen even more than I’ve heard. I’ve seen what seems to be manageable problems tear families apart. Broken relationships, wounded people, discouragement, and despair seem all too familiar. But, interestingly enough there have been times when I have watched families, couples and individuals actually pull together and become stronger because of overwhelming circumstances that I was sure that no one could go through and “survive”. They not only survived, but they thrived!

I’ve asked myself what it is that those who thrive in spite of horrible life altering circumstances have that those who seem done in by even less severe circumstance do not have? I have come to the conclusion that there are some things that the “thrivers” have in common. And there seems to be one major thing that they all have in common for not just surviving but thriving in spite of their circumstances. What is that one thing? They help others in spite of their circumstances. They regularly and consistently give and help other people in spite of their pain.

Helping and giving to others gives temporary relief to one’s overwhelming circumstances. It has the power to cause a shift in one’s perception of their problems. Time and time again I have seen people going through tragic events in their lives step out of their pain to help someone else. By giving to others their focus changes. When you and I help others in spite of what is going on in our lives, it has the power to change everything. When I move the focus off of myself and onto someone else to give to them, if even for a brief moment, my personal pain is brought into focus.

It seems that when you and I lose our perspective due to our circumstances the circumstances feel even worse. When we focus only on ourselves and how horrible our circumstances might be we allow the circumstances to hold even more power and pain in our lives.

Giving and helping others in spite of what we might be going through is the release valve from the pressures of our circumstances. Just like a teapot the pressure builds in our lives when the circumstances are difficult. There has to be a release of the build up of the environmental pressure, or it leads to potential disaster.

A mental health disorder/illness can be very challenging. It can cause difficult circumstances within one’s life. It can cause you and me to become very self-focused. Which at times is necessary. But, if all we do is focus on ourselves, then bipolar disorder has the potential to hold too much power in our lives. You know what I mean?

How about you? Are you only focused on you and your circumstances? If so, have you thought about helping someone else? Or doing something for someone else? Have you found helping others to be good for you?

Check out Brad’s weekly podcast at www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com 

 

Face in the mirror

Face in the mirror

What is wrong with me?

Does this sound like a question you may have asked yourself during your battle with depression? Depression wages war against your mind, your body. It’s basically at war with ‘you.’

At least, that’s what I found to be true during my descent with depression. A couple years ago, I went through life coach training. During training, one of the things we were asked to do was to scan our inner selves and unearth any conflicting, negative underlying questions that we may have tucked away. Like sifting my thoughts through a strainer. And what was dredged up from within me were those questions – “what is wrong with me?”…”why am I useless?”

I realized that I had asked myself these questions before. Out loud and in my conscious mind. What I failed to realize was that it had taken root in my subconscious.

What is your question? What have you asked yourself out loud, or in musing?

When you look into your mirror, who do you see? Amusingly, the mirror has become such an indispensable part of our lives. If not the first thing, what is one of the first things you look at in the morning? The mirror! Right?

It has become, for lack of other words… An extension of our lives! And the person staring back at us stands inverse. Much like how a lot of us view ourselves. The opposite of who we are created to be. And this especially so when we struggle with depression.

Over the past 5 years of my depression, I reached a point of such low self-worth, that I shied away from myself. I didn’t think the person staring back at me was worth the eye-contact. A fog of ‘fear’ had clouded my eyes. I had  figured out how to locate something wrong with everything about me. Appearance, qualification, confidence etc. I shied away from sitting too close to anyone because I didn’t want them to notice everything that I thought was weird about me. I didn’t want them to see the lost look in my eyes, or the defects I found in …to cut it short and say…’all’ of me!

And as though that stack of insecurity wasn’t enough, I happened to get myself one of those countertop magnifying mirrors with the built in light. If you’re not familiar with these mirrors, it has two sides. One has a regular mirror and the other side a magnifying mirror, that ‘magnifies’ every tiny pore on your face! Now that one haunted me for weeks!!!

My mirror also brought me face to face with ‘me.’ And I did NOT want to live with ‘me.’ I didn’t want to live this way. There was a stirring in my heart and my mind. Leaving me questioning my very being. And the byproducts of the stirring were fear and dread.

I also came face to face with the creator of the reflection in the mirror. I was angry with Him for what I was going through. Didn’t He see the fear, suffering, the many sleepless tormenting nights?

The encounter with the mirror is real. And so is our battle with depression. But the mirror cannot win. Because, you and I are bigger than our battle with depression. We were created for a purpose and that is all the enemy wants to destroy.

Here’s one way to win over the mirror:Declaring the promises of God over your life.

If you cannot gather the strength to speak it, write it down. That’s what I did. I was either too physically weak to speak it, or too emotionally distraught. But I wrote down promise after promise in my journal. Even when it was hard for me to believe.

I would tape scripture written on note cards to the mirror. So that on days when I woke up to see the worst in myself, I had a promise to turn my eyes to, instead of the despair in my eyes. I used note cards because I happened to have some. But you could write yours down on decorative paper, embellish it. Or maybe just sticky notes. However you prefer.

Also, when the enemy kept echoing lies in my ears, and plugging my ears didn’t drown it out, I started to plug my ears with the word of God. I would have sermons or the audio Bible playing constantly in my ears. Especially during the night. Depression hits hard in the night watch and I fought months of sleeplessness. So, if the devil wasn’t going to let me sleep, I figured I’d drown him out with the Word. Thank God for technology and headphones!

Here’s a scripture that will anchor it down

This is my comfort and consolation in my affliction: that Your word has revived me and given me life. (Psalm‬ ‭119:50‬).

Our mirror…the Word!

“…we continued to behold in the Word of God, as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image…(II Corinthians 3:18).

Stressed-Out Young People Need to Hear Your Stories by Amy Simpson

Stressed-Out Young People Need to Hear Your Stories by Amy Simpson

A few years ago, a study revealed the youngest generations of adults in America are also the most stressed. In one sense, this is no big surprise, given the economic and social factors influencing quality of life and near-future prospects for Millennials—adults ages 13 to 35—and for Gen Xers, whose scores are virtually tied with those of their younger counterparts.

In September 2016, the unemployment rate for Millennials was 12.7 percent. This compares to 5 percent overall. And among employed Millennials, many are underemployed

To read more: CLICK HERE

About Amy Simpson

Amy is deeply committed to this vision: seeing purposeful people make the most of their gifts and opportunities. As an author, speaker, and life & leadership coach, she helps influencers get clear on their calling and thrive in times of transition so they can see clearly, lead boldly, live true, and fully engage in life with guiding purpose.

Whether speaking into a microphone or through the written word, she is a very gifted communicator with a prophetic voice.  She’s the author oDSC_0522f the award-winning books Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission and Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry (both InterVarsity Press). She also serves as an editor-at-large for Christianity Today’s CTPastors.com and a regular contributor for various publications.

As a life & leadership coach, she helps influencers thrive through change so they can see clearly, lead boldly, and live true. A firm believer that life is too short to waste time living out of sync with God’s purposes, she challenges clients throughout the United States to step into their calling with authenticity and excellence. She specializes in working with people who find themselves on the edge of something new, whether a new role, organization, approach, project, or career.

Amy was one of the recipients of the 2017 National Inspiring Hope Award from Fresh Hope for Mental Health.

Amy holds an English degree from Trinity International University, an MBA from the University of Colorado, and CPCC certification from Coaches Training Institute. She loves to travel with her husband, Trevor, their two teenage girls, and their dog, Rosie. She live in the suburbs of Chicago, where she is committed to perfecting her dry sense of humor and reading nearly everything she can.

Check out Amy’s website: www.AmySimpsonOnline.com

Check out Fresh Hope’s weekly podcast at: www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

Perfection Versus Imperfect Progress

Perfection Versus Imperfect Progress
While waiting to weigh in at a Weight Watchers meeting many years ago, the woman in front of me stepped on the scale and began to cry. The leader, who was the person weighing her in, asked her why she was crying. Between her sobbing and trying to catch her breath, she said that she didn’t have a good week. The leader, of course, asked her why. And she replied that she had eaten some peanut M&Ms. The leader then asked her a very important question: “Did you eat as many of them as you would have consumed before coming to our group?” And the woman between her tears and sobbing chuckled and said,”Ohhhh NO! I only ate a small bag of them. Before group, I would have a huge family size bag!” The leader simply looked at her and said, “Good! See, that’s progress!”

The memory of that lady weighing in has been forever etched in my mind. It was at that moment I learned a life lesson about recovery; recovery is not about perfection, rather it is about imperfect progress.

If you’re like me, when you step back into old patterns or are triggered by a situation and react in old ways you can easily believe that you have failed at recovery. And when this happens old feelings come back like someone unleashed Hoover Dam: guilt, shame, anger, sadness, confusion, hurt and many more. And the overriding feeling is one of total failure. But, the truth is that it is not a total failure. It is imperfect progress if you recognize it and learn from it. See, it’s only failure if you don’t learn from it if you don’t recognize it. It’s only failure if you decide not to get back and remain “there.”

Again, this “journey of wellness” is not one of perfection. It is a journey of imperfect progress. To make this journey you and I must be willing to accept the fact that we are never going to be perfect. No one is perfect. Recovery, which I define as taking back one’s life in a new way, is built upon failures in which we learn from them, get back up and continue to move forward. Shaming ourselves and believing that a failure constitutes us as complete failures simply is a lie straight from the pits of hell! Everybody fails. Everyone falls short of the mark. What makes the difference between those who decide to give up and believe the lie that they are total failures versus those who succeed? It’s simple; understanding that moving forward is one of imperfect progress versus perfection.

Note: it is never too late to get back up and dust yourself off after failing, even after years of failures. No matter how long you might have been stuck believing the lie that you will never be able to change or move forward, it’s not too late to get back up, dust yourself off, learn from what has happened and begin to move forward. It is NEVER too late. When getting back up, it is important to take full responsibility for your issues. Make amends if necessary and decide to learn from it.

When failures involve others that we are in a relationship with it can be difficult to get out of the “stuck spot” of believing the lie of never being able to move forward when the other person doesn’t let it go. This type of situation is very challenging. When someone is “stuck” and not letting go of the past it can trigger you. It is at that point that you have to know that you’ve done what you can about the past (reconciling, taking responsibility, apologizing, asking for forgiveness, etc.), and you need to recognize that it is no longer your issue, it is theirs. I’m learning that when this happens within my relationships with others that I absolutely must have a loving response to their reminders of the past instead of getting triggered and repeating the same things over and over.

I want to encourage you. You are not a failure. Yes, sometimes you fail. So, does everyone else. But, failing does not make you a failure. Failing is a sign of moving forward and learning from it. Wellness does not require perfection at all. It is made up of imperfect progress that is simply handling one’s failures in a healthy and appropriate way.

How about you? Do you want to give up because you “slipped up”? Do you want to give up because this journey of wellness is hard work? Are you learning from your imperfect progress?

Check out Brad’s weekly podcast: Fresh Hope for Mental Health (www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com)

Brad’s the author of “FreshHope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis” which available on Amazon.com

Is It Time For a Med Change? By Jamie Meyer

Is It Time For a Med Change? By Jamie Meyer

Wouldn’t living with a mental health challenge be easier if we knew the answer to that question? If you’re starting to have some symptoms or feel out of balance, you might blame it on stress or a difficult situation you’re dealing with. Having more trouble getting out of bed? You might think it’s just part of the normal ups and downs of depression. If I go several days or weeks without sleeping well, I tend to chock it up to staying up too late or trying to do too much during the day.

Certainly, life circumstances can trigger symptoms, but we sometimes forget to consider that our medications may be the cause. After being diagnosed, most of us go through a period of trial and error before finding the right medication or combination of meds to treat our symptoms. My heart goes out to those of you who have tried to find a medication(s) that will provide relief from your symptoms but haven’t had success. Keep pressing on. Don’t give up on working with your doctor to explore alternative treatments.

Some people experience long periods of wellness and stability and then suddenly crash, often leading to hospitalization in order to change medications quickly. Others may experience a gradual change that is largely unnoticeable until symptoms become more obvious.

I recently experienced a slow, downward slide that started in May of last year and I finally decided to ask my provider if anything could be done. I explained to her that over the previous twelve months I wasn’t functioning or feeling as well as I had over the past couple of years. Specifically, I didn’t have much motivation and I was losing interest in doing things I normally enjoy. My mood was pretty good most of the time which, for having bipolar ll, was a positive. So the nagging question in my mind, one that often prevents us from discussing these concerns with our provider: “Is it just me not dealing with my circumstances well or trying hard enough to stay healthy, or are my meds not working as well as they did before?”

Rather than take me off my antidepressant, my provider added a second antidepressant that affects energy levels and motivation. Unfortunately, the first one sent my appetite through the roof and I quickly packed on the pounds; plus I didn’t feel any better! The second med she prescribed took a couple weeks to work but when it kicked in I noticed a big difference. My mind felt more alert, I didn’t feel like sitting around all day, and I started cleaning out closets!

So to answer the question, “Is it time for a med change?” I would first talk to your provider about the changes you’ve noticed, whether they’re physical, mental and/or emotional. If you’re not scheduled to see him or her soon, I encourage you to make an appointment and not wait until things get worse. Don’t tell yourself it’s no big deal and that you shouldn’t bother them. One of the biggest mistakes I hear people make is to adjust their meds on their own, either increasing them or abruptly stopping a new one. Your provider has the education and experience to address your particular symptoms and, if necessary, to adjust or change your meds.

Secondly, be willing to work with your provider until you find a med that improves your symptoms. If the first one doesn’t help or the side effects are intolerable, don’t just give up and not go back. None of us like the trial and error process, but isn’t it worth the effort to find a med that helps you feel better mentally and emotionally? Don’t settle for anything less than feeling as well as possible with your particular diagnosis and having the ability to live a full and satisfying life.

Managing Your Fears With The Help Of God by Stan Popovich

Managing Your Fears With The Help Of God by Stan Popovich

Dealing with fear and anxiety can be very difficult. As a result, using the help of God can be very effective in managing your fears. With this in mind, here are some suggestions on how a person can use the help of God in his or her own struggles.

The first step a person should do is to start talking and praying to God. A person can go to church or to a quiet place during the day to tell God that they are having a problem. They should tell God how they feel and ask God for some of his help. A person could also review the Bible and read some articles on trusting in God and then apply these concepts in their life. Each and every day, a person should make it up a habit to talk to God and ask for His help.

Remember that the one source that a person should use as a basis in managing their fears and anxieties is using God as a basis in dealing with their fears. Why? The power of God is the one power that is stronger than your fears and anxieties. Also, God loves each one of us and he is the one person who has the power to solve all of our problems. He will help you if you ask him to.

When using the help of God to manage your fears, a person needs to be aware of how God is working in their life. Most of the time God works in mysterious ways and the answers he provides might not be that obvious. A person must be aware of God being in their life even when they are dealing with their fears and anxieties.

A person must also be sensitive to the answers God gives them. Some people think that the answers that God provides must be religious in nature. That is not always the case. God may provide the answers in a way that might not be religious in nature. These answers could involve basic psychology and cognitive techniques that deals with how to manage fear and anxiety. The point to remember is that although a person may use these psychology methods, its important to use God as the center of everything in your life and in your struggle.

If you have trouble, talk to a member of the clergy or a professional counselor to help deal with your fears and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. By talking to a professional a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future. Remember that it never hurts to ask for help.

Finally, the most important thing is to continue praying and talking to God. Talk to God as if you were talking to a friend. Read the Bible and pray hard. Be persistent and be open in the avenues that God may provide to you in solving your problem. It is not always easy, however God is in control and he will help you if you ask Him.

FRIENDS! FRIENDS! FRIENDS!

FRIENDS! FRIENDS! FRIENDS!

I believe a friend is having a relationship with someone who has similar interests. They listen to you and care about things you care about. They are there in good times and bad and you have a desire to do the same thing for them. A friend is someone who lets you be you and makes you feel comfortable being you. You can laugh and cry with them. They are people who will pray for and with you without needing any details.

Due to my low self-esteem, it was always difficult for me to make “true” friends. I was always wanting people to like me. A couple of times I was hurt by a friend, so I closed myself off to making new friends; I was fearful. For years after I became an adult, I prayed for friends; true friends; girlfriends.

The kind of friend I described above did not come until I was well into adulthood. I visited a church with my daughter a couple of times and then we attended a Women of Faith conference with a group from the church. Interestingly, I was not uncomfortable which is highly unusual for me. Being around new people was always very difficult. The night we came back from the conference an announcement was made that their women’s group would be starting up in a couple of weeks. I got brave, or rather God prompted me and took away my fear, and I attended the group.

One of the things the ministry leader asked each one of us was what we wanted out of that particular session. When it was my turn, I said ‘I want friends’. After that, God just poured out friends to me. I have friends a lot younger than me, my age, and older. Each friend has been an intricate part of my life. They have helped me get rid of the low self-esteem and they probably don’t even know it. They have encouraged me and helped me grow as a person and in my relationship with the Lord.

About a year later, I had an opportunity to share my story about my journey with depression. This opened so many doors and gave me even more friends. They have helped me feel empowered by sharing my story and I pray I have helped them in their journeys. I feel like the verse Proverbs 27:17, Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (NASB), is exactly what I am referring to. We need each other to grow!

I also love these verses in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)
9) Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.
10) If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
11) Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
12) Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Christian friendships are found and bound together no matter the distance or length of time apart!!!

The Power of Hope: Hearing a Peer’s Story Brought Hope to Lee

The Power of Hope: Hearing a Peer’s Story Brought Hope to Lee

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, a son and mother share their compelling joining of finding hope in the midst of the hopelessness that followed a manic episode. Lee shares his story of the first glimmer of hope that he had in the midst of severe depression. It was LeeKyleMediaPicture.jpgwhen he heard Pastor Brad’s story that Lee for the first time had hope.

Lee’s mom, Penny, shares her desperate journey of finding help and hope for her son, Lee. Penny shares that she has learned a lot through this voyage. Many things she has learned have been through prayer.

You do not want to miss this episode if you are someone searching for hope in the midst of depression OR if you are the parent of an adult child who is struggling.

Click on this icon below to listen to this podcast, it will take you directly to our podcast site:FH PodCastArt (160dpi) 02_Splash 480x854

FreshHopePennyLambertMediaPictureAfter listening to this podcast we encourage you to email us at info@FreshHope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.

If you are listening to this podcast on iTunes, we encourage you to leave a comment regarding the podcast. Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site:  www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

Pastor Brad Hoefs, host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.

Brad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. He is a weekly blogger for www.bphope.com (Bipolar Magazine). He is also a certified peer specialist and has been doing pastoral counseling since 1985. Brad is also the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which is available on Amazon or at: http://www.FreshHopeBook.com

If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope go to http://www.FreshHope.us or email info@FreshHope.us or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope go to: http://freshhope.us/donate/

For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting go to www.FreshHope.us and click on “find a group.”  Or you may attain an online group of meeting of Fresh Hope by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com

If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community contact Julie at Julie@FreshHope.us 

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries. 

Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry.  

The copyrights of this program belong to Fresh Hope Ministries and may not be duplicated without written permission.

All of the podcasts of Fresh Hope Today as well as numerous other videos are all available on our YouTube channel: Fresh Hope Network

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is on Facebook at  www.Facebook.com/FreshHopeforMentalHealth

Trauma Matters

Trauma Matters

Trauma matters. They say that too often, most of us are unaware of the history of trauma in our lives. Whether it’s the type of childhood trauma that came about due to verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or trauma that has taken place in our adult lives; unresolved trauma has the power to mess with our brain chemistry and can certainly greatly affect bipolar disorder.

Many of us were raised by a parent who had bipolar disorder that was either not diagnosed, self-medicated or left untreated which then caused trauma within our childhoods. Which may also have been true for our parent. My father was not diagnosed with bp until my freshman year of college. Prior to that there was a level of anger and rage in our home that was the cause of a lot of trauma for me as a child. However, it was nothing compared to the severe trauma that many others suffered.

Unresolved trauma can help set the perfect storm for the onset of bipolar disorder. It affects brain chemistry. Many folks I’ve met over the past years through Fresh Hope groups also have PTSD due to some type of trauma from their childhood. I’ve also met a number of soldiers who have PTSD and working through their trauma. Unresolved trauma can cause a life full of emotional pain.

Recently I ran across an article by Kathy Broady (MSW) in which she identified 20 signs of unresolved trauma. Here are just a few of those 20 signs:

  • Addictive behaviors
  • Inability to tolerate conflicts
  • An innate belief that you are bad
  • Excessive sense of self-blame
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Unexplained but intense fears

Broady writes, “Running from your trauma history will not help you feel better. In the short-run, you might not have to face the issues, but the cost in the long-run of unresolved trauma weighs more heavily than you might suspect.”

Over the last 20 years working through my unresolved trauma has been an ongoing process for me. It has not all been childhood trauma; a fair amount has been trauma I have experienced as an adult. It has not been resolved. But, as I become aware of it I do my best to work through it. The pay off for me has been significant. Working through the trauma has allowed me to begin to untangle the trauma symptoms from the actual affects and symptoms of bipolar disorder which has and continues to allow me to experience more thriving in spite of the disorder as opposed to simply surviving the disorder. Prior to that I was blaming a lot of my “issues” on bipolar disorder when they were issues/symptoms of my unresolved trauma.

Working through my trauma has also allowed me to learn new skills for dealing with stress. I did not learn good skills for dealing with stress as a child or young adult. It’s been a life long process and is still going on. Food has been and still is one of my coping skills and when you put that together with the weight gain due to medicine it has been rather overwhelming at times. I have yet to overcome this issue. I think I’m very close to having the desire to overcome the battle with the weight. Of course, I’ve been here, done this before. But, motivated to wanting to see my grandchildren grow up.

In any case, working through one’s trauma takes courage. But, the pay off is worth it. How about you…have you or are you working through any unresolved trauma? If so, have you been able to see how the symptoms of bipolar disorder and trauma can be untangled and separated that you might be able to have a better life in your recovery?

 

Never Alone By Rick Qualls

Never Alone By Rick Qualls

You haven’t been yourself lately.

You have put on a few pounds. Probably from eating too much of your favorite  comfort foods. Lately the more sugar the better.

You toss and turn all night never rested when you get up. You have been drinking more than usual to go to sleep. Your wife keeps bringing it up and you have a snap trigger on your temper. You, the easy going guy on the staff have actually  ripped into coworkers. You think they would understand how to do their jobs by now.

In fact you are mad at the whole world. You have a constant chip on your shoulder.

Your wife, whom you adore, says  you are shutting her out of your life. The truth is that your libido is pretty much gone and you are embarrassed. She is afraid you are having an affair. You are afraid of losing your “manhood.”

There seems to be no way out and you find yourself watching inane television shows every evening.

What is the matter?

You could be depressed. Trouble sleeping, losing interest in sex, overeating, drinking to control your irritability, an inner world of anger, withdrawing from the ones you love, are all possible symptoms of depression.

Sometimes men are not good at identifying their feelings. (Yep me, too.) For some reason in our culture it is more permissible for men to have anger than other emotions and it not unusual for feelings to be twisted into anger. Sexual desire is one of the ways society teaches us to measure our “maleness”.

Some of our coping behaviors are negative. Alcohol is a depressant which will only aggravate your depression.

Positive coping behaviors can include: exercise, counseling, practicing gratitude, developing positive self talk. Your doctor and counselor can be of greatf help in establishing your health plan.

Depression is an illness. You are not alone. Depression is not a character defect, it is not a flaw.

More women than men seek help for depression. I think it may have to do with the thin veil of anger we wear over our emotional life and a misunderstanding of what it means to be a “man”.

What to do? If you recognize some of these patterns of behavior, talk to someone about it. Your spouse, the one you are afraid to share with, may be relieved to know what is going on inside your heart.

Make an appointment with your doctor for a depression screening. Find  a counselor, someone who can help you identify your feelings and label them. Labeling can be a relief in understanding what you are experiencing.

You are not alone.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Moses was not alone. Joshua was not alone. You are not alone. “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

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