So Will I

One of my dear friends Eunice, sent me the link to the song ‘So Will I,’ by Hillsong worship. I had seen this on social media, a lot of my friends go to Hillsong so the title was not a surprise to me. I was standing in front of my workplace, waiting for the video to load, and even before the song started playing, I had already decided that I wasn’t going to be moved. I’ve shared in previous posts about the passing of my sister, and everyday has been a wave of emotions that range mostly from sadness, despair, disbelief, anger and then whatever other mix of emotions that are floating around in the atmosphere.

Today was my day to be numb. No crying, no internal angry outbursts, no reaction to anything.

For about a minute…maybe even less, I was okay. I’m watching the video, listening to the words, my heart silently agreeing and as with all things heavenly anointed, my spirit moved by His spirit, tears start to well up in my eyes at this line ‘if creation still obeys You, so will I.’

This past month, I have found it incredibly difficult to sing to the LORD. I have found it hard to declare the good things because right now, I feel enveloped by the pain that grief so abundantly brings. What has been interesting for me is that while I have been sad and angry in regards to the way that my sister lost her life, I haven’t in my heart of hearts felt angry at Jesus. I’ve been battling dark thoughts in my head, biting my tongue from what it truly wants to say to well meaning friends who say that it’ll get better.

Yet in this season that hurts like hell, there is a hallelujah (הללויה) in me. The word ‘hallelujah’ is the amalgamation of two Hebrew words ‘hallelu’ (הללו) which is an exhortation to praise someone, and ‘Yah’ (יה) which is a version of Yahweh (יהוה) the English transliteration of the covenant name of God. Hallelujah therefore means praise Yahweh. My hallelujah song is not the strongest right now. I can barely get it out, and on the days that I manage to sing, those rare days that my voice somehow finds its way out of my mouth, my singing sounds off-key. The pain masking the beautiful melody that should be there, making me feel as though I’m singing along to a song that I wasn’t given the lyrics to.

In these moments, there is an awkwardness and stumbling in His presence, but I think what God wants me to learn, what God wants us to learn is that there are no pre-written lyrics to my/our hallelujah song. If there was, then it would mean that the individual and personal relationship we have with God is not unique, and is simply a copy and paste of what previous generations experienced with Him. Sometimes the melody to your hallelujah song will sound off-key. Sometimes the melody to your hallelujah song won’t be beautiful because the season you’re going through, is anything but beautiful. These are the highs and lows of life. These are the highs and lows of our walk with God. I am starting to realise that this season of pain is all the same lovely and dare I say a very scandalous thing! Precious, because in this I now get to experience a different facet of this loving God who remains kind, gentle and true even when life does not seem kind, gentle and true.

As I go through this season of a weak hallelujah song, this is what I have to tell myself, this is what you have to tell yourself if you’re going through a season of indescribable pain. It will not last forever.

Do I believe it? No

But do I believe in God, that He is able to turn this season of being covered in ashes into one of beauty*? Yes

This is the God who created the universe from nothing. This is the God who turned water into wine. This is the God who could not be defeated by death.

There are more days to come where I will feel utter confusion at what has happened, and circumstances in the future will probably bring me to a point where the strength of my hallelujah song will be tested again. It’ll happen to you too, and each time though it might not seem like it, though it might not feel like it, your hallelujah song will be strengthened. That is the nugget to hold onto, that Jesus who sustains you, is also able to strengthen you.

I am reminded of a resolve that I made 10 years ago, to follow Jesus. Some seasons are easier to follow and understand than others, but I won’t stop following. If the stars were made to worship, SO WILL I.

If the stars were made to worship so will I

If the mountains bow in reverence so will I

If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I

For if everything exists to lift You high so will I

If the wind goes where You send it so will I

If the rocks cry out in silence so will I

If the sum of all our praises still falls shy

Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

*’to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.’

Isaiah 61:3 (ESV)

Other songs getting me by:

‘Even when it hurts.’ Hillsong Worship

‘God I look to You.’ Bethel Music

‘Holding my world.’ Kristian Stanfill

‘He’s been good.’ Ron Kenoly

‘Desert song.’ Hillsong

Wilt, fall, root, rise, bloom

My sister passed away on the 30th of October. It is a date that I won’t soon forget. The painful part of this grieving process is far from over. In fact, I am starting to believe that grieving never truly ends, you just learn to push back thoughts of your loved one and for a small part of the day, it is as though you have forgotten that they are no longer here.

Death of a loved one whether expected or unexpected is painful. There is no way to prepare your heart for the painful reminder that lives in every old message, every item of clothing, every single belonging, that they are not coming back. It’s a tear in the heart.

A book that I have been reading as a sort of escapism is ‘the sun and her flowers,’ by Rupi Kaur. It is a straightforward read, explores grief, self-abandonment and honouring your roots, more than anything it is a book about being raw and as honest as possible with yourself. The book is divided in sections that reflect the cycles of life that we go through; wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming. The days following my sister’s passing, I would re-read every single poem in the wilting section because that is how I felt without my sunflower. Slowly losing a piece of myself each day. Wilting.

The resiliency and graceful strength that my sister had is unmatched by any other human that I have the pleasure of knowing. Reading this book, I am slowly starting to accept the fact that my sister is no longer here. It is a painful acceptance because there is a part of me (perhaps brainwashed by childhood dreams) that believes she’s going to come back, the belief rooted in what we’re fed in superhero movies that our heroes never truly die. The heroine that makes a miraculous return, unscathed and stronger.

The recipe of life doesn’t play out like that script where your hero/heroine comes back. It doesn’t play out like the script where you’re woken up and it is a bad dream. The recipe of life isn’t always sweet or soothing. The recipe of life is filled with moments where like the seedling that develops into a sunflower, you have to push through the dirt in order to grow. The recipe of life is wilt, fall, root, rise, and bloom.

this is the recipe of life

said my mother

as she held me in her arms as i wept

think of those flowers you plant

in the garden each year

they will teach you

that people too

must wilt

fall

root

rise

in order to bloom

~ rupi kaur

GIVEAWAY: Two copies of ‘the sun and her flowers,’ are up for grabs. It’s pretty easy, all you have to do is leave a number, (any number) between 1-30 as a comment underneath this blog post or on my other social media pages, and the people closest to my two favourite numbers win!

P.s. this is an international giveaway.

Grief. It comes in shades of black

It’s been 16 days since my sister passed away. We’ve received flowers, messages from people we hadn’t spoken to in years, all relaying their condolences. Each person saying how sorry they are and that if we need anything, they’re there. I’ve been mulling over that phrase for a while now. What exactly is there that people can offer at this stage?

It’s a season of pain. A season of unanswered questions. A season of shock, none of us saw this coming. It’s a season of wondering how to go on with life without someone that was a permanent fixture in your life. The common thing I’ve heard is that it gets easier after the funeral, and also that eventually in time this hollow feeling, becomes bearable. Well I’m waiting for those days. I’m waiting to wake up from this dream. I’m waiting to receive a reply from the WhatsApp messages that I’ve sent my sister. I can’t even think of her as deceased. It’s not something I would have ever thought I’d be saying.

She is in every second of my day. On Monday morning, I tried to go back to training and instead I ended up watching my bestie wod. I had moments where my heart felt the pain of being at a place where my sister encouraged me so much. When I started CrossFit she would drive me to classes and give me pep talks in her car. Throughout my life, she has always been there to motivate, encourage and offer me home truths, some of them uncomfortable but done as only an older sister can. I’ve had a few setbacks in my Crossfit journey, but my sister believed that I had what it took to become a top athlete in South Africa. After recovering from a nasty back injury, the rehab and the grind to being better in 2018, had already begun. Now I feel lost. Derailed. Seeing everything in black or variations of it. Being anywhere that isn’t my room, feels like a slap in the face. A reality that I hate to face. A reality that I have to face. A reality that I am forced to face. It’s a reality that means I have to function. It means I have to do something other than think about her. It means I have to go on with my life. It means I have to go on with my life without her.

I haven’t yet had any days that have felt easier or better than the previous one. Each passing day adds to the number of days that we’ve been without my sister. Each passing day adds to the number of days that we are in shock of having so suddenly lost our sunflower. The toughest person you could have ever met. She had a true warrior spirit that seemed to have been what held me together. She was my best friend, a protective older sister, and even though this is generally a tough one, she understood me.

I went for a run on Monday evening, there were heavy rain clouds which afforded some comfort to me that perhaps nature seemed to be grieving too. I ran in silence: fast and hard thinking of my sister who would find my starting pace a bit too fast to be sustained. I thought about all the times that I could have slowed down to accommodate her. I thought about how even with my grumpiness at having to slow down, she treated each run with me as though she were running with her best friend for the first time.

I think of her final words to me a lot. I think of how I didn’t even know that those were her final words. It feels as though there is a tear in my heart.

So when people say ‘I’m here if you need anything.’ Here is the ‘anything,’ that I would like and that I need: I would like for you to piece my heart back together. I would like for you to tell me how one goes on with a ‘normal’ routine when life has thrown in a situation that wasn’t supposed to be part of your normal. I need time to sit. Time to heal. Time to understand and time to grieve. Now is a good time to press the pause button on life. The remote must be hidden.

Grief.

It comes in shades of black.

Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”

C.S Lewis

The Problem of Pain

The Sun’s Flower 

13 days ago my beloved sister passed away. 

Broken is an understatement. She was my best friend. The one who understood my neuroses. The one who would cry with me, the one who would cry for me as though everything that had ever hurt me, had hurt her. I miss her more with each day that goes by.  I’m haunted by thoughts of whether I could have saved her. Apparently once the funeral is done, things get easier. It isn’t easier. It’s harder.

Sleep evades me, and when I do sleep I wake up feeling as though I would much rather be in heaven with her.

My heart hurts.

Living hurts.

Everything hurts. 

Everything reminds me of her. 

The things I eat. 

The things I do.

I don’t know what it means to go back to normal & do the things I love when one of the people I love the most is no longer here. 

Nobody knew me more than my beloved older sister. I’m not going to be okay for a long time, so I guess this is where the faith part of this blog comes in. 
Day 13. It might as well be day 1. 

i am sorry this world 

could not keep you safe

may your journey home 

be a soft and peaceful one
~ rest in peace 
rupi kaur 

Right handed

I remember the day I started wearing the black band on my wrist…okay maybe I don’t remember the exact date BUT I do know that it was a couple of days before my 27th birthday (loved that day!!!) I was on ‘fuel for fire’s’ Instagram page where they wrote about the white rubber band that reigning fittest woman on earth, Katrin Davidsdottir wears on her wrist to keep her from complaining or having a negative mindset. 

I very heavily document the highs and lows of my emotions, and having suffered with depression; sometimes it can feel like you’re just never getting better, I have days where I seriously question whether there might just be a very hormonal pregnant woman hiding in the deeper parts of my belly 🤔 However I have begun to ACTIVELY work on healing myself; no longer the passive bystander, constantly coming up with excuses on why things will always stay the way they are. 
For me; one of my excuses was: ‘hey I’ve suffered with depression and I’ve been through so much, people don’t know what I’ve been through. Besides I’m kind of trying to improve my mental game, I haven’t said can’t in agessss. At least I’m trying!’ 

Was I really trying? 
Are YOU really trying? 

The dangerous thing about excuses is that if we repeat them to ourselves long enough; they condition our minds into believing that these excuses are the gospel truth. Luckily for me, Jesus really loves me, (I mean I know we have the childhood song ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…’ BUT this girl over here, I’m His favourite!) and it is because of this fierce and passionate love that He will 9 times out of 10, swoop in like the hero that He is to destroy the excuses, as well as the wrong mindsets [strongholds] that oppose the great plan that He has for my life. Sometimes Jesus (along with some very wise friends,) has to remind me to drop the crutch. Don’t try, no excuses, just do it! 

So when I started wearing my rubber band; (mine is a black one that I got from A21, an organization that fights human trafficking, a cause very important to me,) I evaluated the things that are important to me not just as a human but also as a daughter deeply loved and highly favoured by God. These things are: Jesus, CrossFit, doughnuts and Jesus. Everything begins and ends with Him. As I questioned my motives and searched my heart in what has been a turning point in my spiritual health; I came to the realization that not only in CrossFit, but even in my walk with God, I had applied a lot of excuses, cutting corners where I could, sugar coating what was indeed laziness, with a WHOLE lot of excuses. Excuses that seeped into (and were threatening to derail,) my pursuit to become a top CrossFit athlete. 

My most popular excuse: I just don’t have time; I’m always working, and you know what? It might seem like a valid excuse (and for those who know me; they’ll know that I am indeed almost always working,) but whether you’re working or sitting on your 🍑 at home; life goes on, people go on. As you neglect to do what you can to ensure healthy spiritual growth or in the case of my fitness pursuit, better athlete ability; it doesn’t mean that everyone else is neglecting those areas.  

People were getting their muscle ups strung together. People were falling deeper in love with God. 

And me? 

I had a tug of war going on in my head. The very things that I wanted to achieve, I couldn’t even visualize myself doing. There would be a nervousness that would gnaw so viciously at any confidence that I had in myself; leaving me with just enough to get by (you’re survivin’ honey, but not thriving.) Not enough to excel, just enough to not completely sink. 

It was time for a mindset shift; for good this time. I hate to give this guy credit 🙄 but coach 1/2, Bruno, has been someone who I am learning a lot from in terms of creating in your mind a space where the energy that you draw from while training, while living, is always positive and life giving. A few weeks ago, I walked into the box for the best class; 5am and looked at the wod. This was a spicy one that was 10 rounds long, and because it had one of my favourite moves; front squats, I didn’t even bother reading twice before deciding that RX+ was going to be my portion that day; front squats at 40kg , easy for girls with thighs and just my kind of weight; (heavy just how I loooves it!) thrown in were double unders & handstand push ups. Now I don’t hate handstand push ups but in my head (on that particular day,) I felt that I had regressed. I wasn’t looking forward to the HSPU, but when you love squatting (or deadlifts;) you’ll go through any ugly movement (toes to bar are there,) to get to your cake, and front squats…that was MY cake, cake, cake! 🎂 

Front squats done, quads singing 🎤 and then I walk to the wall. Handstand push up timeeee!!! At least that’s what I thought; I could barely get on the wall which was frustrating to me because I have video evidence of me stringing 6 kipping HSPU together. On that day; I couldn’t even get 2. I could feel myself getting more and more frustrated each time I had to approach the wall, but before I could start crying (I cry a lot at the box haha,) I looked at my band and as much as my coach offered the scaled options to me; I (like to think that I was polite,) declined. Today was a great day to practice not allowing my mind to wander off into negativity land, and potentially even quit; I was not going to do that, ESPECIALLY because I had in my tank, the memory of being able to do HSPU’s.  

Wearing my black band (and telling my coach about it,) held me accountable; it meant that everyday I would choose  positivity. I had to keep my band on the right, which meant no complaining, no sucky attitude approaching any wod or movement. Now more than ever, I feel accountable to God. Am I squandering what He has given me? What did I believe, what do I currently believe? About who I can become as a Christian woman. About who I can become as an athlete? 

It’s no longer about not verbalizing the negative comments but also not thinking negatively! It was hard when I started and it’s still hard now. It’s going against what used to be your normal, it’s going against everything you’ve ever known as the right way to think. It’s fighting the battle within, and winning. Your mind doesn’t control you, you control it! 

The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself- the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us- that’s where it’s at. 

Jesse Owens 

I Won’t Forget…Whispers of Love 

It’s my birthday today!!!!
I’ve been excited about this day from the 1st of January 2017 😂 . So excited in fact that I started writing this post on the 11th of April, 7 days before my special day. I was on my way back from work listening to ‘I Won’t Forget,’ from Brian and Jenn Johnson’s album ‘After All These Years,’ and boy I’ve gotta tell ya; this song is everything that I would hope, intend and will endeavor for my walk with God to be as I enter into a new year where I’m older and if you’re asking me, looking even better than I did 10 years ago. My worst birthday was the year I turned 23, we’ll talk about that some other time okay! After I turned 25, something clicked in me and I just knew that birthdays from there on would be different.
I will confess to being a very weird breed of female; there are two things that I’ve always wanted to do in my life:
1. Switch to a plantbased i.e. vegan diet. ✅ next month on the 18th will mark 3 years as a vegan.

2. Make it to 30 and enjoy the journey to 30. The age 30 has always had a magical appeal to me. I don’t know if it was enhanced by watching ’13 going on 30′ , but for me that age represents maturity and a stage in your life where you no longer care what people think about you. I’m now 3 years away from this milestone 💃🏾

In the midst of these silly “life goals,” there have been a few more serious ones such as adopting kiddies, learning how to farm bees 🐝 adopting a million fur babies 🐶 and one that I am constantly working on: remembering to remember God in and through everything. To love Him deeply and celebrate Him passionately through and in every season of my life.
So as I’m listening to ‘I Won’t Forget,’ so many things that Daddy God is whispering to me. Some that He has permitted me to share with you. Grab a cuppa, it’s quite a read!
The first one that isn’t so much of a whisper than it is a shout. I can hear His voice roaring like thunder as He declares that *drumroll*; He’s excited about my birthday!!! Even for those years when I haven’t been on board about adding another year to my age; He has been excited about my birthday. God celebrates me!

Do you want to know what’s even better?

He celebrates you! (but hey! Don’t get too excited; it is MY birthday after all 👱🏾‍♀️)

Have you ever thought of that? On the days when you feel alone; sitting in your room wondering when life will be what you dreamt it would be; that there is a Friend closer than a brother who desires intimacy with you? A friend who wants to partake in the highs and lows of life with you? And while we’re talking about the lows; a very quick mention that believing in God doesn’t mean that you now have a magic wand to wave away/keep you away from harm and/or danger; a post on that will be coming up soon. It does however mean that you now have with you someone who even in the most disgusting of situations, will be with you always! Our perspective just tends to become blurry in the face of hardship. He celebrates your existence and is glad you’re alive.

For the past few months; I’ve been telling all my friends and family, that they’re so lucky they get to be alive to celebrate me 😂 ; and although I was saying that in a (semi) joking manner; I truly do believe that my squad are amongst the most blessed people to have me in their lives, and do you want to know something else? Your friends, your family, your circle; they are the luckiest and most blessed people to have you in their lives! Everyday wake up with the thought, belief and hello! A generous helping of confident swagger, and belief that just by being alive and ACTIVELY present in someone’s life, you make a difference. Believe that your life matters, because it does! Believing that my life matters is one that I struggle with. We’ve become a society known for being master players at the comparison game. So one day I’ll be on Instagram or Facebook and start to measure the difference I’ve made in my life to what someone else is doing and 9 times out of 10, the Holy Spirit has to fiercely reel me in and remind me that my story, my path, my difference is unique. I mean hello, you don’t get a special name like Aurélie and then want to throw it away to be like everyone else! It’s the same for you; you do not get a special name like *insert name here* to throw away all of your potential and talent, to be like everyone else. You are a one of a kind creation. The world needs you! Your quirks, your flaws, your brand of weird. The world needs that!
And then the most important whisper of love today; He will rescue me always.
This is a vital one for me. I’ll always make reference to my past (and present,) experience with depression because that’s part of my story and it will always be an important issue for me to address; without the stigma, without the awkwardness or judgment. It’s sticky tar this depression, you feel like you’ve left it but somehow there’s residual tar that seems to always be there and never fully comes off. This residual tar is what can sometimes cause me to on some days be so overly bratty with and to God, that it can only be because He loves me ever so much that He hasn’t lightning bolted me 🙈 I will be the first to admit that sometimes I can be a bit emotional, I wear my heart not just on my sleeve but ALL over me. Just last week I was telling my CrossFit coach B that “I’m not a cry baby, I just feel deeply.” The truth is however deep our emotions, they were never meant to rule us. I’m guilty of throwing tantrums or indulging in a pity party when things don’t go my way. We’ve all done that and I’m not berating myself for those moments, because there are occasions when we need to let go of all that pent up frustration and maybe even throw our toys out of the cot. What needs to stop is the 80% hold that our emotions, the negative ones in particular, can have on our view of God, and in my case; life, my hair 😂 CrossFit, the list is extensive and seemingly endless…see how negativity can trickle into all areas of your life?
Our emotions were never meant to cause us to forget that after all these years, God has never given up on us; that after all these years, He’s still and will continue to be constant in His love for us. We’ve got to be able to break away and shake off negative emotions that would love for us to forget all that God has done for us in the past, all that He’s doing in the present, all that He will do in the future, and how after all these years, He still runs after us. *

I love that in the Bible, we see in Jesus the perfect example of what it means to live controlled by the Spirit, to have a mind that is sound, filled and ruled with power and love from above (see 2 Timothy 1:7), and not by general annoyances that He had about the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Jesus definitely felt things deeply but what He felt was compassion. The Greek word for compassion is splagchnizomai** (σπλαγχνίζομαι), and translates to being moved in the inward parts; this compassion (so gripped by the things that grip the Fathers heart,) is what always prompted Jesus to action. Whenever He encountered a lame person or my personal favorite, the woman at the well in John 4; He was able to connect with these people, understand what they were feeling and then from that place of deep compassion, He always provided that healing ointment that to this day our hearts so desperately need. The very same way that He rescued then and has rescued me (and you,) before, He will continue to do so. He isn’t my back up plan, He is my only plan, and depression or any other mental illness, no matter how dark, can never pull you or keep you away from His love for you (Romans 8:38-39.) He’s going to keep coming for you; to rescue you, to revive you and to restore you. You’re gonna be ok.
Sometimes the only other voice you’ll hear cheering you out of any dark hole, will be God’s and even then sometimes it’ll feel like He isn’t there. But He is. I’ve been through stages in my life where I’ve had to force myself to believe that present sufferings would not be greater than God and my view of Him. This wasn’t blind faith because I was very much aware of the carnage that still lay around me, but because I was focused on seeing Him through and in everything, He started to feel close again until I came to the realization that He not only feels close but He is close. He’s always there.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans‬ ‭8:18‬ (‭KJV‬‬)

So today as I look at myself in the mirror, I think: ‘girl you’re mighty fine!’ 😂 look at how the good LORD has improved not just my looks (guys, pause on how I used to channel that inner cute but psycho/serial killer vibe…) but my heart as well.

One of my favourite songs is one by Bethel Music (in a spontaneous worship moment), called ‘You Are Growing Me Into A Beautiful Garden,’ and today I feel like a beautiful sunflower 🌻 , I’m happy. At times I can’t see progress, but God sees the rapid growth. I’m not a little girl anymore; I’m a warrior woman. You can’t wipe the grin off my face. Today’s whispers of love, they’re going to carry me through the year and I hope that in the moments that I somehow managed to break away from birthday selfishness haha, they’re whispers that will do the same for you too, you are the universe in ECSTATIC motion.

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion. Rumi

 

*paraphrased from “After All These Years,” sung by Brian Johnson 

**Strong’s Concordance 

You’re Gonna Be Ok

Initially when I was thinking about my next post, I considered writing about how much I hated Tuesday’s wod…maybe not the wod, but one movement in particular…toes to bar.

6 Rounds For Time (why!!!)

7 x Burpee Box jump over

14 x T2B<—evil!!!

21 x SDHP (50/35kg)

15 min time cap

WOD 2 (just to ruin your grip a little bit further…)

15 Min EMOM

1st – Dead Hold (80/60)

2nd – 15 x Snatch (35/20)

3rd – Max reps pull ups
Woke up the next day and my hand was throbbing! Spicy, spicy!

Toes to bar are my arch nemesis, truth be told, I don’t spend enough time working on trying to string them together, but we’ll talk about  my laziness in another post ok!

In the Uber yesterday, and this morning on the way to work, as I dissected that wod (I am an overthinker and I analyse absolutely everything, gift and sometimes it’s a curse!) and how much better I could have done if I didn’t allow my general dislike of TTB to consume me, I came to the realization that it wasn’t just knowing that there were TTB in the wod that had ruined my day, dramatic sounding I know…but it was mainly because yesterday was one of those days where the mean reds got me. If you don’t know what the mean reds are, I suggest you stop what you’re doing right now and go watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

Here’s a snippet of that scene:

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?

Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?

HG: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

PV: Sure.

HG: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

The mean reds are what people who suffer or who have suffered with depression, are all too familiar with. It’s those days when the darkness inside you makes you feel a lot more despondent about a situation, whether big or small. The mean reds, as HG stated is not the same as being sad. I think of sadness as something that is largely circumstantial. The mean reds, or depression is different. When you suffer with depression, everything around you could be going great but in your eyes, you’re sinking in a dark hole, and if I’m being honest, there are days when you would love for nothing more than to be swallowed by that dark hole. Disappear.

As my beautiful friend Vanessa put it, depression is like dipping your feet into tar only you never quite get rid of that stickiness, you never quite get rid of the black mark that it leaves on you. At the same time, if you’re intentional about it, there are places that exist like Tiffany’s, that can calm you down and stop those mean reds from controlling you…except I’d buy a dog instead of a cat, dogs are the best!

My first bout of depression was triggered off in 2013, that incident is too lengthy to put it in here, maybe it deserves a separate post. During that period of my life, it felt as though the life was being sucked out of my soul. I felt battered and bruised. And then you go for therapy, and you think you’re okay. This was also when my walk with God became a lot stronger because oftentimes I felt as though no one else understood what was going on inside, and the great thing about venting to God is that in those moments, (and even today,) I never feel judged by Him. I never feel as though He sees me as weak or unable to cope. In Him I found a strong tower and refuge, my confidante from whom I never hear any of those labels or stigma attached to people who suffer with depression. So you might be wondering, ‘if you have found this strong tower and refuge in the LORD, why did the mean reds get you yesterday?’ My reason: getting so wrapped up, perhaps too wrapped up in work and rescuing other people that I began to neglect time for myself with God.

CrossFit, fitness in general has always been how I personally connect best with God, but the past few months, this busyness of life and trying to rescue others when you’re running on empty, has left me on the verge of depletion, on the verge of breaking down and all the more easily controlled by the mean reds. It took a  crying session with one of my closest friends (Sherine,) and the day before a chat with my other darling (Monica,) and then yesterday’s chat with my beautiful Vanessa, and then later in the evening, being pulled out from under the bus by my sissy and bestie (Givs,) for me to realise that I absolutely cannot keep neglecting my mental health. This is something that I forget. When things are going well, I forget that I need a daily tune up. If the Word and Jesus is truly my life then that means that everyday I should be running to Him, being molded and transformed into His likeness. His peace and His rhythms of grace challenging and conquering all that I face.

This morning I woke up feeling a little bit better, that’s the thing about suffering with depression, it can sometimes feel like you’re constantly on an emotional roller coaster. It can also make you one really tough cookie to love. Sometimes I feel incredibly emotionally unstable, those are the days when the reds probably consume me the most because I try to hide it from everyone, but that’s okay because now and then, thank the Holy Spirit, He reminds me that I don’t fight alone and that he loves me. Do you know what a challenge it can be to remember that daily? It’s hard, but another darling friend, (Ashleigh) reminded me that it isn’t impossible.

I truly love my girlfriends, incredibly blessed with them, and do you know  what, in spite of sometimes feeling like a failure, I know that I truly do love God. I am very much aware of how much worse I could be if I didn’t have Him. In Him, I have found a place better than Tiffany’s.  I’m not always the easiest to love…heck, not even the easiest to like because there is a part of me that has become calloused because of having suffered with depression, but as Ness put it yesterday, you sit in the sun (or with the Son,) and He thaws you out, but you have to be intentional about sitting with Him, and this sitting is anything but passive. It’s uncomfortable and will expose you for who you and who you’re not .

Mental health is important. It’s something that we neglect. It’s something that we don’t like dealing with, and in a ways perhaps we are even ashamed of saying that we suffer with mental illness, but the only way to confront any illness, physical or mental is to confront it and keep working (preferably with God,) to get better and healthier. Mental health is just as important, if not more important than physical health for out of your soul, out of your spirit, is where life flows from.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

One of the ways that I cope is through writing, running and CrossFit. All of these done with God. My challenge is to remember to keep coping and keep fighting with God. I need to remember that it’s okay to not be okay but that I will be okay.
To illustrate this example, let’s go back to my toes to bar. Obviously I will never be able to cope with a high volume of toes to bar in a WOD, if I don’t work on them (I don’t really want to work on them though…) and if I don’t listen to my coach, or ask for help in mastering that stupid move…okay from now on, no longer calling them stupid haha, then I will never learn how to cope and excel with TTB!

It’s a similar thing with depression, I have to keep going to my Creator who has mastered living life, to learn from Him, how to do life without letting the reds control me. I cannot neglect this. It doesn’t mean everyday is going to be fantastic, but it does mean that he makes me stronger each day. Yesterday I listened to this anointed song by Jenn Johnson and started crying at work haha, luckily I didn’t have any make up on and no one had arrived yet. I pray that it will bless you and that God would cover you with His spirit to remind you that you, yes you! You’re gonna be ok.