You Are Never Alone

walking-mountain-path

Take a deep breathe, check your pulse, hit yourself over the head (Ouch!)…We have just determined that you are still alive. Maybe all is not well with you, but there are still plenty of reasons to rejoice in this simple truth. I’ll offer you just one. Perhaps, it is the single most important thing you need to hear right now. Despite how you may be feeling, you are never alone.

“When you walk through the storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of the lark. Walk on through the wind. Walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone. You’ll never walk alone.”–from Carousel, written by Rodgers and Hammerstein

Whenever we are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life, let us remember that others have passed the same way, have endured, and then have overcome. History is replete with the experiences of those who have struggled and yet who have remained steadfast and of good cheer. The reason? They have made the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their lives. This is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. We will still experience difficult challenges, but we will be able to face them, to meet them head-on, and to emerge victorious. From the bed of pain, from the pillow wet with tears, we are lifted heavenward by that divine assurance and precious promise: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Such comfort is priceless.–Thomas S. Monson

So, take courage, and walk on. Yes, go for a walk. As difficult as it might be to get yourself outside, I believe in you. If the obstacles seem too daunting to surmount, I promise you that if you but give whatever particle of effort you can muster, that effort will be met, matched, and surpassed by He who has vowed not to leave thee alone. “God did not remove the Red Sea. He opened it. He will help you find a way through your problems as well.”–Brad Wilcox

You seek peace from the never-ending agony of your mental illness. It has manifested itself physically, and you are further depressed with your body. You are in search of some remedy for both. Going to work is tough enough, I understand. Yes, I also get that you are not up to going out in public to workout. “When things get tough, find a reason to go on instead of a reason to quit. Both are easy to find, but the one you chose will change your life.”–unknown Therefore, walking is the ideal approach. Better still, how about venturing out early in the morning or late at night! These times of the day offer you just what you need. The absence of noise, due to the lack of cars and people on the streets, is perfectly conducive for a peaceful stroll around the neighborhood. Engage in some serious soul-searching while you are involved in some wonderful exercise. The calm and serene atmosphere can help you to recharge your batteries.

“Sometimes, carrying on, just simply carrying on, is the most superhuman achievement.”–Albert Camus Remember, dear friends, that you are never alone. “We see what we are looking for: burdens or blessings, weeds or flowers, and sometimes we need help from the ONE who sees all things as they really are.”–Ardeth G. Kapp “He can make us whole no matter what is broken in us.”–Paul V. Johnson

photo credit: Strevo via photopin (license)

SMILE

smile

It is a myth that one uses more facial muscles when smiling as compared to frowning. On average, about the same number of muscles are engaged in either act. If you smile more often, these ten to twelve muscles can become stronger. Who doesn’t want a stronger face?

But, those who struggle with depression or any form of mental health issue often find it difficult to smile. This doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t like to be beaming more frequently. Their affliction does not define them. Nevertheless, at times the challenges associated with their particular illness can control them. It is often manifested in an outward appearance which is misconstrued by others. I’m not talking about someone who is just feeling the “blues” because she didn’t get a raise at work, or another who is “down in the dumps” because his favorite sport’s team just lost a pivotal game. Everyone experiences a bout of depression now and then as discouragement and disappointments are realities of life. No one is completely immune from these undesirable experiences due to the uncertainty inherent in mortality. It is easier to turn a frown upside down when your life is not a perpetual roller coaster. For these, that car which they ride along in, and perhaps at times desperately cling to, is completely unpredictable. One moment it is racing at the speed of light, and then suddenly, often without warning, it morphs into sloth mode. The peaks and valleys on this ride are far from amusing. No, thrill seekers would certainly not desire to hop aboard this coaster. Fun would not be in its description. Excitement, laughter, and grinning are not typically companions accompanying these riders.

So, what is to be done? The goal, if possible, is to attempt to stay a step or two ahead of the problem. Does that mean that one has to be able to tell the future in able to better deal with the present? Of course, no one can predict what awaits at the top of that next hill or at the bottom of that valley. Could a smile be waiting around the next corner? I cannot say. But, what I know is that over the course of time learning and applying various coping mechanisms can help to stave off the damaging effects of a major episode. However, it is never as simple as it sounds. “Simply follow steps A, B, and C and everything will be just fine.” Doesn’t that prescription for success just make you want to smile from ear to ear?

Certain steps or specific actions may need to be modified, completely scrapped and replaced with another, or temporarily adjusted for a season. Whatever the particulars, change in and of itself is downright scary. Altering routines will most certainly cause a jump in anxiety. Let’s jump to some good news, shall we? For quite a few years now, doctors and psychologists alike have been recommending an increased dosage of daily physical activity to combat the hardships of major depressive disorders. The upside is that regular exercise can, in fact, do wonders to improve one’s mental outlook. There is more than ample evidence to suggest that those who endure the pain of an illness sometimes unseen by others will benefit tremendously if they can just start moving. Now, isn’t that news worth smiling about?

“Smile though your heart is aching
Smile when your heart is breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile”

–John Turner/Jeffrey Parsons

photo credit: Peter Grifoni Ella via photopin (license)