A Look Inside (My) Depression

“When was the last time you thought to yourself, you know what – I’m actually pretty good. I kinda like who I am,” asked my well-meaning counselor.

“What would it take for you to love yourself?”

“I don’t know – if I could lose weight, write a book, actively accomplish something that I’ve set out to do, like if I want to wake up early in the morning then to actually get out of bed at 5:30 AM when I’ve set my first alarm. To have finally completed the 12 Steps of my addiction recovery program.”

My counselor then proceeded to show me the places in which I’ve grown over the last year. “Justin, you’ve gone almost a full year without a relapse into your former pornography addiction. You’ve successfully had financial discussions with Allie without getting defensive and allowing it to turn into a fight. From what I can tell – you’re becoming rather successful at work, you’ve built healthier friendships and your relationship with Allie gets sweeter and sweeter.”

“So what is it going to take for you to love yourself?”

“Where would you say you are on your fantasy scale of who you want to be – on a scale of 1-10?”

“I don’t know – a 5, maybe.”

“And what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with being a 5 and telling yourself, “you know what if I improve to a 6 or 7 over the next few years, then I’m a champion. I’m overcoming my sinful nature and becoming a stronger man of God,” and maybe by the time you’re 40 you’re an 8, and so on and so forth.

I found myself far more engaged this session than previous ones. Often distracted by wondering if someone from work has texted me or if my wife is doing okay, or whatever other anxiety-ridden thing I might be missing out on – FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), I found myself listening, emotionally there, and nearing tears of gratitude.

“Justin, I think you’re okay. You’re doing a great job. You’re doing some really hard stuff. You can’t take on the whole world all at once. What if you took your goals – let’s say you want to drop 40 lbs and we cut that way down and we say you want to lose 10 lbs in the next 6 months. That’s doable, right? And what if instead of beating yourself up every morning when the scale still reads 2** – you decide to celebrate the victory of going on a walk a couple times a week. Because that’s better than what you’re doing right now, right?”

You get the idea.

You’d think I was in 1st grade. The concepts were so basic, so simple, so “easy.” And yet for the last few months I’ve barely been able to get myself out of bed, get dressed, and accomplish anything. I’m convinced I’ll fail – I won’t reach the fantasy self (230 lbs, New York Times Bestselling Author, freed from shame and living in joy), so why try? I’m gonna snack, so why not have three snacks? I’m gonna get distracted, so why even take the laptop and the book to the coffee-shop with me?

Round and round goes the cyclical cycle of shame. Satan’s henchman whispering in my ear at night all the reasons I’m useless for God’s Kingdom. My neural pathways strangely trained to think the worst possible outcomes will occur in my life.

I could blame it on being introduced to pornography in my young teens. I could blame it on the way that’s affected my relationships and the shame and pain of doing things I regret because of that former addiction. I could blame it on the way loved ones reacted to my being found out – seen for what I was. I could continue to lay in bed and wait for the day of the dead to come knocking at my door, to take me home from the suffering.

Or.

I can wake up with a purpose – the purpose of loving being a 5 and becoming excited about the journey to becoming a 6. I can honestly share my story and my heart with others, knowing that there’s nothing to hide anymore – and as high and mighty as some may pretend to be, they have plenty of their own skeletons. Having always admired the authentic, why try so hard to be the polished?

So that’s why I’m writing today. I’m not so sure this blog even has all that much cohesion and I’m certain it’s not my best work; confident there’s much to be improved. But for someone that’s been sinking in depression for the last several months, simply externally processing and sharing my feelings and heart with my community is a win. Hitting “Publish” is a victory. It’s one small step toward becoming a 6. One step closer to becoming more like Christ, regretful to radiant, sorrowful to serendipitous, grave to grateful.

Let’s dust off the keyboard and see if I’ve still got it.

Until Next Time,

Justin

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You’re Needed

You are needed. A lie the devil will spoon feed us to the point of our hearts dormancy is that we’re not necessary, or don’t play an important role – that we’re not making a difference. You’re always making a difference – it might not be a very positive difference this week, but you’re making a difference, and someone needs you.

The reality is there’s not a whole lot of time on this earth and we’ve got to stop wasting it. My younger siblings need time with me, as I often play the role of confidant and counselor as they navigate relationship issues, within the family and outside of it. My company needs me to give my full attention to the customer I’m on the phone with at the time to provide the best possible care to them, so it makes the utmost impact on our brand. My girlfriend needs my listening ear and for me to be a judgement-free zone, a source of encouragement and wisdom – she needs my actions to back up my words, and my priorities to be clear and laid out. I’ve got to lead. My friends needs my letters and phone-calls and goofy laughter. I’m needed.

You are, too. You’re so needed.

I’ve said for a while now that I believe one of the deepest human needs, at a heart-level, is for someone to actually see us. The level of intimacy with a close friend or romantic relationship where they look into your eyes and can silently say “I see you” with their eyes in such a way that you know nothing is hidden. No hidden agenda; no lies covering up blemishes; the kind of love that can see me in athletic shorts and a t-shirt, all sweaty and gross from working out, overcoming major life setbacks, and still say, “I love that guy.” That’s Allie, my family, and my friends. I need them. When I’ve fallen down again, they’re willing to help me back up and say, “We can do this.”

Notice that powerful word “we”. They’re invested. They have part-ownership in the relationship and the outcome. I was never made or designed to go it alone, nor were they.

I refer to my lifelong, closest friends – the ones that are in my inner circle – as the #DreamTeam. Why? Because we’re a team. When one of us is really struggling, despite any differences in political/religious/lifestyle ideologies, we will all come running to each other’s aid. We’re in it to win it, together. I will love those men until the day Jesus says “it is finished” with their lives. And they know it, too. There’s no getting rid of Justin Meyer when he decides he’s gonna love you.

I have a heart for those of you that are on social-media these days talking about how you’re going it alone; how you don’t need anyone, etc. “F’ these people and these people, because blank-and-blank.” I’m so sorry that people have hurt you. But friend, you’re going to need others. Lay down your pride and let the drawbridge down. People need access to your castle and past the moat of your conditional love. They need you now, just as you are. And then they need you to wake up and work to build character that’s even greater than what you started with.

You’re needed, but you need others too. Stay isolated no more. And for the love of peaceful relationships, stay humble. We’re just one piece of a much larger puzzle. Plug yourself in.

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