Bad, then better

As some of you (especially those of you who read my personal blog) know, I've been feeling very bad lately. I had some personal disappointments in April that made me feel trapped and worthless, like my life was not amounting to much and I was never going to be able to get out of a cycle of barely surviving. I had a huge crisis of faith in everything I thought I knew, about God and myself, my friends, and any possibility of a future that wasn't just going through the motions.

I realized at a certain point that my sadness and anxiety and worry were causing me not to sleep and not to eat. And that all of these bad feelings, combined with that physical stress, had thrown me into depression. I have a history of depression, and am the child of a person with depression, so I know it. This was actually worse than other major episodes I'd suffered. Some of those just made me feel flat, and like crying all the time, like I was wrapped in fiberglass insulation. This time it was a sharp pain, a nothingness with singed edges that terrified me, and for the first time made me realize why people would do anything they could to get away from that feeling.

What I did was start doing the T-Tapp Basic Workout religiously every day, and make sure I got in 3600 mg of fish oil and a few droppersful of B-complex vitamin. I also threw in a few extra sets of T-Tapp Hoe-Downs each day.

Within 2 days I was back from the ragged burned edge. The pain was still there, all the disappointment, the worry, but it wasn't unbearable. I had enough space to look at it objectively.

At the same time, I came across a little book I bought last year and never read, called Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the voice of vocation by Parker J. Palmer. In it, the author writes about his own mismatch between what he thought he was supposed to be and what he really is, and how it took two serious depressive phases for him to realize it. He talked unflinchingly about his depression, and that was exactly what I needed at that point. To hear that my depression was a normal part of figuring out what I should be doing.

Reading that book helped me figure out why, exactly, I was feeling like writing Ask Moxie was sort of, but not exactly, what I was meant to be doing. And I realized that I love answering the questions, but sometimes it feels a lot like giving people a fish. Like the people who write me are depending on me and what *I* think, instead of figuring out what *they* think. And I really want to help parents figure out how to examine their own issues and use a framework they create for themselves to pull apart their own problems and solve them.

And then, in the middle of the night, More Moxie came to me--a group of people who would work on issues common to all parents as people, regardless of how old their kids are or how many they have. The idea of doing two months at a time came from the 60-day challenges that helped some of us last year. And doing one assignment each week means we can get a little deeper and go back behind the stuff we usually think about to figure out why we do what we do, why we have the reactions we have, and help people decide what they want for themselves. Giving people a place to talk about it with other parents working on the same stuff was a huge part of it, and bringing in people knowledgeable about whatever topic we're working on, and having call-in sessions for people who want to troubleshoot or process on the phone with others.

I am energized like I haven't been in years, and feeling like what I'm doing is actually a worthwhile contribution. I was sure I knew exactly which way to go with this first unit on trusting our instincts, and then had a random conversation with a friend that's led me to start reading some stuff from a field I never thought I'd intersect with and bringing it into this unit as a way of  conceptualizing the feedback loop. I don't think I've thought this hard since I was an undergrad. And it feels really good, to want to get it right to help people learn about themselves (while I learn about myself).

And that, in turn, has made me feel more excited about the regular Q&As here. Someone asked if I was going to keep doing the regular Q&A column. Yes. I'm hoping that More Moxie will take off and I can back off some of my freelance work and spend that time doing even more with the Q&A and other free resources here.

I feel a little better now, having confessed that I was Not Doing Well. And I really had to share why I'm so excited to be putting together the units for More Moxie. (I'm lining up experts and resources through the end of the year, and finishing up the weekly assignments for this first unit. And thinking about what to do when next year.)

If there's anyone else out there feeling as stuck as I was, you might find the Palmer book helpful. (I also had the benefit of the brutal honesty and introspection of an old friend who's breaking it down for himself and letting me follow along. So if you can find someone who's into hard-core introspection and is willing to be open about it, count yourself lucky.)

And if anyone out there is feeling like you just can't deal, stand up and do some HoeDowns. Then do some more before you go to bed, and when you wake up in the morning. If you don't have some breathing room in two days, tell someone, and make sure they understand how serious it is. They'll help you get help.