counseling

How To Keep Showing Up For Your Life: FOUR

Sometimes life takes our breath away.  Some days we stumble through the fog wondering if we will ever feel happy again. Most all of us experience this in one form or another. But not all of us are honest enough to call it what it is, depression, anxiety, fear…and not all of us are brave enough to share the experience with others so that it might be a comfort and help.

My final guest is both honest and brave.  I’ve known Linda most of my entire life. Among being an extremely talented woman, interior designer, business owner, actress, model, writer, music producer, yoga instructor…the girl isn’t afraid to try anything…she is the most vulnerable and transparent person I’ve ever known. Sharing freely her heart and life experiences with others just to shine a light, bring comfort or give hope to a weary soul.

Today’s final post in this series is a bit heavier than the previous.  But I believe that this topic is real and necessary for us to talk about.  Depression and anxiety affects every single home.  Although it can be very troubling and dark it does not have to be forever.  We can find our way through, but it takes all of us to be willing to discuss it openly, to pursue help, to de-stigmatize it so that we can all find our way through the fog.

Everyone, meet Linda.

It’s Going to Be OK

The hollow, heavy ball of fear landed in the pit of my stomach New Years Day.

Like an intruder.

Uninvited it came.

Stealing any sense of peace or fragment of hope that I was clinging to. I felt its’ constant grip tightening around my mind. My limbs felt as if electrical currents were running through them and caused me to feel uncomfortable even in my own skin. Sleep was elusive and unwelcome- it only meant that I would face more time in hell when I awoke.

My bedroom had become my prison cell, my bed a place of exposure-exacerbating the struggle to escape. My body curled in the protective posture of a child that would not settle, trembling as my mind drifted toward a hopeless place of despair.

Randi, a friend of mine since childhood, called me during one of these endless days of sheer fear and as she talked over the phone in her soothing voice like a mother to her babe. She painted a picture for me in my troubled mind.

Linda, you know when you’re driving in the fog and it’s so dark and thick that you can’t even see an inch in front of you? Then all of the sudden you reach the edge and it suddenly clears. Well , you could be very near that edge.

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It was a simple picture that had a profound impact on me. It was a divinely inspired word in season and ripe with the hope I needed at that very moment.

I didn’t expect it.

I didn’t do anything to make it happen.

It was a gift.

It’s going to be OK. I needed to hear those words repeatedly during this dark bout of anxiety. I would ask those close to me; my husband, my sisters, my family to say those simple words to me because I really didn’t know if I was going to be OK again.
I felt as though I was wearing a mask when I would interact with people. I had the sensation of peering out from my body like a costume.  My inward reality was much like that of a frightened child who was hiding. I was so filled with fear that I couldn’t eat. I lost over 30 pounds which only added to my anxiety. I felt like I was slowly losing my ability to function.

It scared me.

It scared my family.

I was seeing a counselor and she suggested that I go on a low dose of Prozac to help me get my emotional feet under me. She said, Linda, I believe you can get to the other side of this with or without medication, but the longer you stay in this severe state of anxiety, the more of a toll it will take on your self-esteem. I did go on Prozac for six months and it made a big difference with my ability to heal, but the aftermath and damaged self worth took a couple of years to heal.

I pleaded with God to lift the darkness and take away the fear but it was a slow process and it was hard to understand. I needed others to stand in the gap for me during  that time and they did. I clung to words of hope and truth from God’s word that became like doses of spiritual medicine as I would read them over and over.

So much of my fear was about my future. I felt that I would never do the things I loved again. I couldn’t picture how anything was going to be made right. I felt so lost. And I was. But through the help of family, friends, wise counsel, unending prayer, medication and a God who would never fail me – I made it through and became stronger because of it.

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Journal entry
3/5/2001
I think the longer I walk with God, the more questions I have…
I find this comforting. As His mystery and majesty have grown, so have His
trustworthiness and faithfulness in my life. I find His largeness combined with His goodness very settling. My faith has become more childlike in its’ maturity. There are many things I don’t even strive to understand anymore—I know that God is good, and that is enough. His goodness is like an undercurrent that runs beneath the surface of my being–it carries me through troubling times and reminds me that, if I allow it to, it will take me to deeper places of trust and faith.

linda lee puffer
11.21.17

Do you think you could be experiencing depression or anxiety and it’s bigger than you can handle?  The holidays can trigger emotional turmoil. Please, reach out to someone for help. If you don’t know a doctor or counselor, ask a trusted friend or family member to help you find the next step toward healing and help. A courageous person is not someone who feels strong.  It is someone who knows they need help beyond themselves. Blessings to you my friends.

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Marriage in the Thick-Of-Things

I’ve been married to this guy for a long time.

John and Randi

I can honestly say that we now have the friendship that I thought we were having years ago. We weren’t. The friendship we have now came from stepping into the thick-of-things.

Our friendship is filled with moments of great connection and misfire. It’s real and we both like it.

After the early years of marriage are over some of us get in the thick-of-things. Our true selves are featured and the scent of decay begins to waft. Something is dying. I know this is not true for every marriage, but it’s been pretty accurate in describing mine. I didn’t recognize the smell of decay at first. Disappointment is a misleading symptom. But the stench was decay.

Something must die. Our pride, our selfishness, our ignorance….

  • Control
  • Impatience
  • Anger
  • Pretending
  • Addictions
  • Resentment
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Wrong perceptions
  • Laziness
  • Fear
  • Unwillingness to grow, accept, learn and communicate

Many of these things had to die in my marriage in order to find the friend I married.

This is where love becomes true. The thick-of-things is like a dense and dangerous forest. Ugliness gets exposed and we have to stop being shocked by this. Both people have to be willing to go in order to survive.

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A word of encouragement for the weary soul who feels like they are losing the relationship battle.

LEARN. Learn is just a cool word that means: be willing and teachable.

  1. Be a student of God.
  2. Be a student of yourself.
  3. Be a student of your spouse.

When we smell decay, when we realize that this isn’t the marriage we envisioned, we become raw. Vulnerability is the kneading board of learning.

I don’t want to sound over simplistic. Issues are real, misunderstood and exhausting. Problems can be dangerous to body and soul. Some marriages end because there just doesn’t seem to be any other way.   In the thick-of-things every exit looks appealing. Going through is much harder than going around.

Also, I don’t want to pretend that if you do A-B-C everything will be great.

My marriage is not settled completely, but we’ve entered the thick-of-things enough times to know that it didn’t kill us. We discovered we could be a better us and by default, a better me.

Arm yourself with Godly people to pray and listen, counselors to help unravel, and the Holy Spirit to guide and keep you through it all. Prepare to change.  You do have to change. You don’t find yourself at the edge of the thick-of-things for no reason.  Something wasn’t working.

So let some thing’s die. I pray it’s not your marriage. I pray your find the friendship you thought you had from the start.