Friday, May 31, 2013
Book Review . Anxiety . Depression ., Down Syndrome . Journey . Dreams . Talents . New York . Mental Health . Christian Life . Women Issues . Virginia . Maya Angelou . non profit . international missions . Manhattan . Greek isles . relaxation . Heavenly treasures . corporate ladder . pray
Rebekah Lyons is a brave woman to share her personal story and I hope that it will inspire and help others.
"It is never too late to be what you might have been." ... George Eliot
Depression and anxiety have many faces. More than 57.7 million American adults suffer from some form of mental illness, including 18.1 million who have been diagnosed with depression.
Even more shocking is the number of women suffering from depression. From anxiety attacks, as in Rebekah case, to mood disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and so on women are under siege. And the majority of women who are wrestling with depression fit nicely in the twenty-five to forty-four-year-old age bracket.
Rebekah is no medical doctor, and she has no degree in psychology,but she loves to listen to the stories of women.
Thanksgiving had barely faded into autumn's wake when Rebekah received the news of her aunt Martha's death. The doctor had handed her a diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer just five months prior, but none of the family thought the disease would steal her life so quickly.
Her thoughts flipped to the person noticeably absent for the funeral the weekend: her dad.
She was aware of the state of his mental health when she was fifteen. He was admitted to a psychiatric hospital hospital for a week.
He lost his job teaching for the county. Administrators didn't consider him fit to be responsible for a classroom.
Perhaps one of the worst effects of such an illness is the lack of respect the individual gets from those closest to them. The survivor never seems to receive the benefits of the doubt. Always looked at as a mental case.
She found herself thinking of her father.
Would she end up in the same bed, her mind unable to sustain her body? She worried that his present might be her future.
Her father and her firstborn son, which has Down Syndrome were connecting in a way they were unable to. Beyond logic and reason. A brokenness that is whole. Beautiful.
A man who'd lived a life of suffering, of struggle, of mental anguish never turned his back on God. He had been faithful. His grandchildren delighted in his presence.
As you know, New York is bleak in wintertime.
Rebekah was invited to lunch with a few women in her Church who were looking to start conversations among their parish Churches concerning what "living fully" looked like for the women in the city. She'd been asked to provide insight and talking points, but she was wrestling with God.
She was beginning to put pen to paper about her journey over the past two years - the story of her own struggle with depression and anxiety.
She thought of Jesus. And what had to have been a horrific night in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He was Crucified, when He prayed on His face for hours.
We all wonder how long we must wait and when the rescue will come. And God says in the waiting, "Turn your face to Me, focus on Me.
So we wait.
"If the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction." ... Maya Angelou
These technological creations, while interesting for everyone else, have the opposite effect on us. Instead of confirming our worth, they only add to the pressure to perform and strive. Have you made every recipe on your Pinterest board? Rebekah admits she haven't. How many of us have homes that look like the images we pin?
Rebekah loves knowing what her friends are up to, near and far. Technology helps her feel more connected to them. But unless she reach out and actually talk to them, the closeness is limited to a newsfeed.
Her husband, Gabe is a helpful barometer to keep her accountable. He knows when the real Rebekah, and the virtual ones grow disconnected. And he raises a red flag when her iPhone gets more attention than he does.
For a few of us, our parents saw a gift in us and nurtured it to full bloom. Sadly for many, like Rebekah our uniqueness was squelched by peer pressure, feelings of inadequacy, or disapproval from a parent.
As for her gift of writing, that one snuck up on her. Though she could be found often with a book in her hand during her youth. As she wrote fervent questions of prayers, she felt His presence near.
Some days she's on edge for no reason, unsure if she should trust her surroundings or even her friends.
Upon graduation, she landed the perfect job at Blair Communications, a respected PR firm in Virginia. The idealism lasted for nine months, until she felt pulled toward a nonprofit focused on international missions.
What is God's unique plan for the headstrong leader and wise counselor with a fierce ambition for love for writing?
She loved her children and her husband and, in many ways, the life she had created. After months of misery, she had begun the journey toward meaning by unearthing her unique gifts. And like Manhattan's spring tulips, she was now bursting with life.
"Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgment. Go some distance away, because work will be in perspective and a lack of harmony is more readily seen." ... Leonardo Da Vinci
Like children anticipating Christmas morning, Gabe and Rebekah were anxious to steal away. His parents had offered to let the grandkids run free on their five wooded acres in Virginia's heartland so they could spend uninterrupted time together.
Scrounging together airline miles, hotel points, and a bit of money they had tucked away for such an occasion, they booked a trip to Greek isle of Santorini.
At night, they dined in front of Mediterranean sunsets.
Gabe and her had one assignment: to reconnect. They had grown distant during her freefall months in New York. Her anxiety attacks had understandably placed him on edge. They aimed to steal away and reignite the spark they once had.
They didn't know they would go with little sleep for a decade-facing financial uncertainly and loss, burying their dear friend, birthing a son who would change the way they saw the world. And God would make them new through all of it. A lesson they continue to learn.
When packing for the trip, she made sure to cram in as many many books as her luggage could hold.
She remembered a story from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus teaches His disciples some cornerstone principles about treasure. He explains that storing up earthly treasures is a worthless endeavor. Houses, money, livestock - they all rust or are eaten by moths. Jesus describes a different kind of treasure. Heavenly treasures.
She have felt the fading in her own life. Battling a lifelong struggle with anxiety and despair.
How might life be different for women like her if they believed a treasure awaits them?
She have found community with people who are living out the calling God has breathed into their hearts. Not a story of climbing a successful corporate ladder for personal gains, but one that carries a humble heaviness for burdens that break their hearts.
That evening she packed with fury in anticipation of returning home. But now she was discovering something greater. Treasure. Meaning.
"The wise man in the storms prays to God, not for safety from danger, but deliverance from fear," ... Ralph Waldo Emerson
They returned home to find New York had shed its summer skin, with fall nearly in full swing.
Life was going so well.
Soon sleep beckoned, thought less restful than she had hoped for. She tossed and tossed between dreams, resisting each one like an uninvited guest.
She shook Gabe awake, begging him between gaps to help her get to the elevator. Their children stayed asleep as the alarm clock glowed 3:20 a.m.
They were painfully aware that the attacks she had avoided the past nine months were back.
She had begun experiencing an onslaught of attacks daily, each distinctly different from what she had fought the year before. These episodes took place in wide-open spaces as she gasped for air on the playground bench while her kids played in the distance.
She began to believe she would never change a thought that brought sadness and new depths of desperation.
Just as life was looking up the floor was dropping out from beneath her.
3:02 a.m. another panic attack.
Her husband prayed, "God take this panic attack away. You are not a God who invokes fear, but faith. Give us faith. Help Rebekah to breathe, to calm, to release."
She cried out, "RESCUE ME!"
The physical bondage that she had been battling for more than a year-gone in an instant. She had never come out of a panic attack like that before.
Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Jesus yoke is easy and the burden He gives is light."
For many, prescription medication has been a lifesaver in moments of severe struggle, and some need it to even out imbalance in the brain.
God had met her in her darkest hour.
Write down the turning points in your life.
Write down your talents.
Write down your greatest burden.
If you aren't married or if your husband isn't willing to offer his support, the journey may be more difficult (particularly for single moms). Look for a trusted friend - a person who believes in you - who encourages you along the way.
Note those in your life who will help you on this journey.
I'm convinced God wants to use you to bring someone else's gift to life.
I received a copy of this book for review from Tyndale House Publishers. I review books for Authors, Ministries, Businesses, Publicists & Publishing Companies.
Rebekah Lyons is a mother of three, wife, dog walker of two living in New York. As a self-confessed mess, she wears her heart on her sleeve, a benefit to friends and readers alike. She serves alongside her husband, Gabe, as cofounder of Q Ideas, an organization that helps winsomely engage culture.