Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Journey to Inner Peace

This post is part of a one day Peace Blitz (August 15, 2012), hosted by MCV Egan, author of The Bridge of Deaths. You can also enter a giveaway for a chance to win one of these prizes: $25 or $50 Amazon Gift Card, or a Custom Made Book Purse (winner pays postage).

Click HERE to visit the other stops:

And click HERE to enter the giveaway:

On with my entry:

My Journey to Inner Peace 

In the Bible, Mark 4:39 tells how Jesus calmed a terrible storm at sea while on a boat with his disciples by saying three simple words.

"Peace! Be still!"

For years, I've thought of that story when life's storms darken my joy. Those verses and others like it involving peace, particularly in Psalms, have given me much comfort over the years. Combined with prayer and meaningful meditation, it worked to calm my personal tempests.

Until about two years ago.

Let's begin earlier than that. On New Year's Eve in 2001, our first child Megan was born. If you're a parent, you can imagine the immense joy and fear we felt bringing our newborn home for the first time. I'd changed maybe three diapers in my lifetime, had no idea how to breastfeed correctly, and was woefully unprepared at just how much responsibility being a mother would bring. Yet, I had joy and lots of it.  I remember days and nights just relishing every little moment with my new daughter, and all the peace that came with it. Sure, I was a total mombie from lack of sleep, but Megan's birth symbolized that a part of my husband and I would carry on even after we're gone. She embodied the possibility of making the world a better place.

Over the next several years, life happened, as it tends to do. We went on to have two more children--true joys, but other things pulled the rug from under me, battering my already exhausted mind and body. But as mothers tend to do, I focused more on others than myself and ignored my own needs. More often than not, I felt hopeless and exhausted. I suspect that even a decade ago, I had un-diagnosed postpartum depression. Yet, I trudged on in denial, telling myself and everyone else that things would get better in time. But, life didn't slow down, and all the stress that came with it began to swallow me whole in 2010. It was the perfect foothold for clinical depression, and it came on so gradually that I didn't recognize it until it had rooted its dark claws in my mind.

That's the thing with depression. It tricks you into thinking you're just "down in the dumps". Everyone gets down sometimes, it tells you. You'll be fine if you just plow on through. Then, the lies begin. Obviously there's something wrong with you if you can't get over it. You start questioning everything you thought you knew about yourself. You start to forget that you used to be fun, that you used to enjoy the simple things, that you were a good person.

I can't begin to tell you how nasty it is. It's hard to describe depression to someone who's never experienced it. And maybe it's different for everyone. But, all I know is, somewhere along the way I lost my joy and sense of inner peace. Oh sure, I could put on a happy face when I needed to, and often, I actually felt happy enough that I thought I was getting better. The mental storm would retreat for a while, only to return again with a vengeance.

Some days, I literally felt like the worst (wife/mother/writer/person) in the world. Depending on the day, I could fill in the blank with anything. Prayer and Bible study didn't work anymore. How could it with depression telling me that not even God cared a whit about me? Some days, I could barely make myself get out of bed to do even the simplest things. In the last few months, I didn't even find much joy in writing anymore--the one thing that I'd clung to in an attempt to hold on to my drowning identity.

I think that's when I knew that I had to let go. This tug-of-war with depression was a pointless battle. I needed help. I needed to swallow my pride and get reinforcements.

So, I did. I'm about a month and a half into treatment, and FINALLY, after two years of stumbling in the dark, telling myself and everyone else that I was just fine, I'm seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Some days, it's brighter than others, but I see it. And I keep heading for it. Depression is losing its grip. Lord knows, it's over-stayed its welcome.

Inner peace seems attainable once more. The dark veil is lifting. I'm not There yet. I'm not even sure if there is a There. What's important is the journey. I'm re-discovering myself as I head toward the light. I'm seeing things in a new way.

  • I understand that things aren't always black and white. What works for one person might not be good for someone else. 
  • I'm leaning more on faith than religion. 
  • I'm discovering that wisdom comes not just with age, but with experience.
  • I'm accepting that I cannot judge my own success by that of others. My journey will be my own, whether it's faster or slower than someone else's.
  • Peace, in all its forms, takes a great deal of work. It's a constant struggle to maintain balance, contentment, and proper motivation. When any of these things are off-kilter, peace will not prevail.
  • I am not super-woman, nor will I ever be. Before I can take care of others, I have to take care of me.
This morning, I read something that couldn't have come at a better time. Claudia Welch wrote in her article, "Protecting The Girl" (Romance Writers Report, August 2012) that "Part of protecting the work is protecting the girl who writes the work. Her joy must be preserved." 

I couldn't agree more. Depression is a selfish disease that consumes your inner peace and eventually tarnishes every aspect of your life. You have to protect yourself and seek help when you need it. I'm hopeful now that my mind's on the mend. Depression is still there, trying to infiltrate my weak points, yet I'm able to push past it more often than not. I'm back to accomplishing things. However small, they're still victories. I'm ready to stand at the helm with Jesus and shout at the world, "Peace! Be still!" and relax in knowing that it's possible.


  1. Mysti,
    This is a beautiful, sensitive, sharing of emotions experienced by many who get so caught up in the effort of 'becoming' that they lose touch with 'being'. I appreciate, and understand, your distinction between faith and religion. My faith is a flame that guides me and speaks to me with the voice of conscience that I cannot deny. That voice tells me when I am moving away from actions motivated by love. I wish you peace. My comfort in times of severe stress is this verse, "Be still and know that I am God." Blessings to you, my friend.

  2. Thanks so much, Scarlett! I've started reading the others and love to see all the diverse thoughts on this subject.

  3. Wow. Thanks for posting this. Seems to describe exactly what I feel. My husband and I have began to read Sifted: God's Scandalous Response to Satan's Outrageous Demand by Rick Lawrence (free right now on the Kindle). It also appears to parallel what I seem to be walking through. Why, when we pray so much do we still succumb to the internal lies? Why, when I go to the ER, I'm calm and able to see God's hand in everything that happens then blame Him or simply rage when the editing makes me feel like I'm not good enough. Am I supposed to be learning something on this path or am I really making everything harder than it should be?
    So many questions that I haven't found the answer to. It might be time to have to pay someone to help me find them?

    1. I wonder if putting too much expectations on ourselves, combined with exhaustion, stress, and self-doubt fuels the path to depression.I heard on the news today that women are much more likely to develop depression than men. It's probably a combination of things, including all the stress and our hormonal changes.

  4. Beautiful thoughts, Mysti. I'm so sad for you that you had to go through two whole years of such darkness. I understand as I experienced depression myself, and let me tell you that when you are on the other side, you realize how strong you actually are. Keep going, don't loose faith in yourself, and you'll see. Life will get better and total happiness is waiting for you. My prayers are with you. I hope peace will fill your heart and soul very soon.

    1. I can't say I'm HAPPY that others can relate, but I'm glad that there are people out there who understand. It's not easy to talk about, particularly to someone who's not been there. Thanks so much for your encouraging words, Gina.

  5. This is such an honest account. I, too, experienced postpartum-stretched-into-clinical depression. Those days were so hard for me, when everything seemed overwhelming and it felt like everything I did was wrong. I finally decided to get help, and I've come a long way since then. The most important thing I try to remember is that I can only control me. I have no control in the way other people act, I can only control how I react to them. So I ignore the "drama llamas" (lol) and try not to let other people's anger and negativity influence my moods and attitudes. It's sometimes tough when someone (unfortunately, it's usually family) says something negative that would normally have ended in a shouting match. But I just remember that I can control my reaction, and say sadly, "I'm sorry you feel that way." It's very freeing to realize that you don't have to let negativity like that affect you. You control you. Let them live their life in misery over something trivial.

    Okay, that turned into a lot more than the small show of support I wanted to give you, Mysti. Maybe it will help someone out there, though, so I guess it's worth it. ;)

    Hang on through the tough times, Mysti.
    And everyone remember: You Control You!!

    Love and Comfort,
    Becca ;)

    1. Thank you so much for the comfort and advice, Becca. Some of those negative people helped fuel my current state, but I understand that it was because I let them. I didn't walk away soon enough to let them be miserable without dragging me down. Lessons learned, for sure.

  6. Very well-written, beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it. :D There's a beautiful song that tells this story as well called "Master the Tempest is Raging." One of my favorite hymns! :D

    1. I don't think I know that hymn, Liesel, but I'll look it up! Thanks so much for commenting.

  7. Oh wow, Mysti! Your post brought tears to my eyes. I'm giving you a great big virtual hug, and I'm so happy you're feeling better and writing again!

    1. Thank you, dear Lindsey! Your virtual hugs are the best. I'm glad I'm writing again too. Feels good.

  8. A very nice read ! Thank you for the inspiration.
    It is important not to lose our faith and cling to God whenever we have problems. God has all the answers in our questions and will save us from our troubles. It is good to hear you've overcome your ordeals and have found your inner peace once again.
    I'd like to recommend to you my work on how one can change from within by realizing his/her inner peace and become a better person. Please visit my site at .
    Thank you and God bless us


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