“Are You With Me?” How to Manage Loneliness

The pain in her voice is so clear I can see it, even through the phone. “Are you with me?” She asks, seeking affirmation and assurance. It is a dark season filled with rejection and loss. All the usual sources of support have been withdrawn. Now she turns to me, her only hope.

“Are you with me?”

It’s a question I’ve asked so many times before. So often I have sought compassion and understanding from those I considered friends. Being “with me” is both physical and psychological. When I ask this question, I’m really asking “do you understand where I’m coming from, how I feel, what I’m thinking?” Understanding is everything! For someone to literally and figuratively stand under the situation with me is to share my pain and simultaneously lessen the sting.

Being “with me,” physically, means going through this experience at the same time that I am—by my side. You will know what I feel, know the difficulty I’m in because you’re in it too. Going through it with another person somehow makes it bearable. At least I’m not alone because you’re “with me.” Sharing one another’s burden, listening with compassion and understanding, it’s like gold to a poor man or breath to the dying!

Yet, so often, you are not “with me.” Often I feel disconnected because people—for various reasons—are not able. They don’t share my past, my mind, nor my emotions; they merely observe from afar. So, what then? Must I walk alone?

No.

“The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” The reality is, God is the only one who actually can say this with assurance. He is the only one who actually does know my past, my present and my future. He is the only one who has already walked through my hardest night. He’s traversed the valley of the shadow of death so I don’t have to fear. He actually is “with me” all the time because He’s omnipresent and because He made me and knows me better than any person can. I can call out to Him in my mind or from my mouth, and He will hear me either way. What comfort!

But, perhaps you are thinking, “yeah, but even if I believe He’s real, He’s not a physical presence. I still need the warmth of human touch.

“Are you with me?” Her voice drifts through the phone line and my heart throbs with her pain.

“Yes.” I understand what she is going through because I’ve been through it too. As I offer her comfort I recognize the comfort that I have also received. The knowledge of His presence strengthens me. I’m able to walk through my own difficulties and extend my hand to her as well. He demonstrates His presence through the presence of people. If we trust Him and wait, He will always send us a physical manifestation of Himself.

So, together, we move forward onto this dark path, but we go with courage–not because it’s easy–but because, in every sense of the word, He’s with us.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Life is hard sometimes, but we don’t have to walk this road alone. Help is available!

Monday Mayhem: Fight!

One of the most difficult things that I have had to deal with as a writer is the daily fight with demons.  They’re called  Doubt.

  • Doubt I’ll come up with a topic today.
  • Doubt I’ll ever be a good writer.
  • Doubt I’ll ever be a published writer.
  • Doubt anyone will read what I write.
  • Doubt anyone will be interested in my writing.

On and on it goes.  Those doubting demons attack daily. And so, before I can ever write a word, I have to fight.

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Which is why I have Mayhem Mondays, and especially why I have Revamp Mondays. To help in that fight…to strengthen my mind as I strengthen my body. Join me in the fight!

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FIGHT DEPRESSION WITH YOUR FISTS!

by Tanzy Chandler

Fight

“I start each day with prayer and God reminds me that, “He has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a SOUND MIND”

I first started noticing symptoms of depression in my third year of college. I was used to being an athlete, but since starting college I wasn’t playing any team sports because of schedule conflicts and I started noticing a feeling of constant fatigue and low energy.  I was easily overwhelmed by the simplest tasks.  I was losing interest in the activities I once loved and started feeling hopeless about my future.  It was all very gradual. There was no traumatic event.  As far as I could tell, I had no reason to be sad, yet I was.

I started seeing a counsellor which I found to be helpful, but over the years the depression became more and more paralyzing.  I was numb on the inside, just going through the motions of life.

Then, after a back injury, my doctor encouraged me to start exercising in order to strength my back and lose weight, so I started riding my bike a couple days a week and I was reminded that my body was craving physical activity.  But a leisurely bike ride was not enough.  The more I exercised, the more intense I needed the exercise to be. I joined a group led by  a trainer who incorporated weights in a circuit training style cluster of functional exercises.  I quickly became one of the strongest in the group, in part, because I was driven to push myself to heavier weights and more challenging exercises. After being with that group  for a few years I later discovered crossfit, which is defined as functional movement, constantly varied at high intensities. It combines HIIT, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and plyometrics. Every single crossfit workout  gave me that natural exercise high that I was craving.

After an intense workout my mood almost instantly improves.  Exercise has been known to cause a release of endorphins in the body which increases the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain.  My husband always tells me that he can tell when I’ve had a good workout because I come back from the gym smiling.   Those chemicals are directly connected to our mental health.  Our bodies were designed to move!!  THAT IS HOW GOD CREATED US.

Our mental, physical and emotional health are all intertwined, so exercise is critical for a strong mind.  It may not be weight lifting for everybody, but I’ve found that lifting weights releases the right amount of endorphins which starts that positive chemical chain reactions that improves my mental health.

In 2015 I had foot surgery and I was very concerned about my mental health during my required bed rest period.  I knew that weight lifting and high intensity exercises were my “antidepressants”, and was afraid of how my mood would change without the ability to stay active. My doctor  prescribed antidepressants during that time to help my mood while I was recovering. To be honest, I’m not really sure how much it really helped. Maybe a little, but they were no substitute for my exercise routine. After being on the meds for a year, I gained 15 pounds and wasn’t nearly as mentally at peace as I had been while I was exercising. Once my surgeon cleared me to begin lifting weights again, I weaned off the medication and signed up for my first crossfit competition.  The weekly training required to prepare me for the competition was just what my mind and body needed.

If you are reading this and you are struggling with depression then I highly recommend that you begin exercising regularly–3 days a week at minimum. Find a trainer or fitness friend that can teach you how to incorporate lifting weight safely and effectively into your routine. Not only will it improve your mental health, it will also strengthen your body and help you to manage your activities of daily living with more ease.  The key, however, is consistency. You can’t do it once in a while; you must do it regularly in order to see the benefits.

I start each day with prayer and God reminds me that, “He has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a SOUND MIND,”so I can attack each day with hope and courage!

Happy Monday!