When We Stop

VanderVision Tip of the Day: Awesomeness is dynamic. It implies movement, progress, and industriousness. Awesome is trying. Awesomeness is striving. When you stop trying, stop living, you stop being awesome.

Note that I didn't say awesomeness is accomplishing or awesomeness is succeeding. This is a vital point to recognize in the pursuit of awesomeness. You do not achieve it by arriving at an end goal, you BECOME it by STRIVING toward one. For me, that's a happy-making thought. They say that happiness is in the journey, and awesomeness is too. Want to know if you're awesome? Ask yourself the question, "Am I trying?" If the answer is yes, then yes, you are awesome.

Sometimes I stop. I stop just about everything. For me, that's the answer to the million dollar question, "What is depression?" For me, depression is stopping. It's stalling. It's giving up and just sitting, stagnant, paralyzed, afraid to move forward in case of tripping. Afraid to try in case of failing. Afraid to live in case of dying. Afraid to hope in case of despairing. Stopping is really, REALLY messed up like that. It makes no sense to do it. It's a miserable, dark, scary to place to live. Senses become numb. Joy bleeds out of life. And paralysis takes over.

It's scary, how easily I stop sometimes. How just one thing, one little trigger, can knock down ALL the dominoes. Major sleep deprivation? Bam, I stop. Screaming, teething children? I stop. I retreat. I hide in silences I try to carve out in myself because my ears are so, so full. Self-esteem plummeting event? I stop. Someone yells at me, tells me how wrong I am, or how weak I am, or how NOT ENOUGH I am? I stop, and I stop hard.

And sometimes, they all come at once, all the things that make me stop happen in one day or one week, and it all builds up till I can hardly remember how it felt to move. And not only do I stop living, I stop seeing. Because that's what depression is for me. Depression is darkness. It's life-blindness. It's forgetfulness. And when things get too dark for too long, a person can start to forget what light looks like.

I felt that way this past week. Like I was going through life with my eyes shut tight. Like I was doing just what HAD to be done, and barely that. And then, when I was already in that place, another trigger landed, and I felt like I was too much not enough, that I always had been, and always would be, and nothing would ever be better again. And I crumpled up. And I cried. Because the light was gone. I couldn't even feel it on my face anymore.

And then a few pinpricks of light got through. Claira, hugging me and telling me, "Don't cry, Mommy. Everything's okay." And Emma making a little surprise for me to cheer me up. And Neil just loving me the way he does, and quietly letting me know that even broken, I AM enough. And friends, reaching out. And a night's sleep that was healing to more than just my worn out body. And thoughts that felt like they were not my own, raining down into my mind like the answered prayers they were.

For me, awesomeness is the opposite of depression, and that's why I talk about it so much. Awesomeness is about living, about moving forward no matter what, about chasing the things that bring us joy and inviting them into our lives every single day. I ate healthy today. I played the piano. I wrote a few pages and revised a couple chapters. I cuddled my girls and had tickle-fights that made them giggle so hard they ended up hiccuping. I cleaned the kitchen. I tidied a few rooms and put away some laundry. I emailed some friends. I sent cheerful text messages all over the place. I made time for the things that make me happy.

But sometimes, choosing to be awesome isn't enough. Sometimes life slams me too hard with too many of the things that make me stop. Which is why I'm so grateful to have so many sweet friends who remind me how to start again.

As the ever brilliant DeNae put it: "We do it for each other. Sometimes you're in the darkness, and sometimes you provide the light. The important thing is to know who you can trust to throw the switch."


  1. We do it for each other. Sometimes you're in the darkness, and sometimes you provide the light. The important thing is to know who you can trust to throw the switch.

  2. Kim, you are the mom of four young, active girls. Sometimes just keeping them alive and fed is more than enough for one day. It's not stopping, it's prioritizing. It's conserving your energy for the things that matter most. When your kids are older you will be amazed at how much easier it is to do EVERYthing. And it will go so fast! If you just get out of bed and love your girls every day, you are doing plenty.

  3. Oh, Kim. Oh, Kim. Oh, dear, dear Kim. You echo my heart and my mind and my life so many times. I'm so happy for you that you have lights--little or no--that are helping you to start again. I pray for God to bless and keep you. You are a light. And even when you feel like it, you never stop.

  4. See, I don't think awesome is something you become at all. I think awesome is how you are, how you were made by God. You are right that we cannot achieve awesome, and I would argue that we cannot even become awesome. We simply have to accept awesome - in the face of flawed humanity, imperfection, error, and even failed resolve.

    Awesome is not perfection and it's not even trying to be perfect. Defining awesome as trying still implies that the control of awesome rests with you. It doesn't! God made you awesome and the awesome cannot be taken away from you.

    Depression is awful. It's stopping and darkness and blindness and nothingness. It's insidious and it can happen to any of us, but I'm glad you have a network that brings you light. But they can't bring you awesome because you already ARE that - even in the midst of depression, YOU. ARE. AWESOME! :)

  5. Thank you, Kim. Is it selfish of me to say that I needed this today? You're inspiring and I'm grateful for you!

  6. Good job--you made me cry. :) I wish I could talk to you, yet you said everything I think I needed you to say right now with your post. I love you, sweet friend.

    Life is rather sucky right now, in the midst of cleaning out our hoarderdom waiting to know what is next (though we're almost through with the cleaning out, after TWO MONTHS, HOORAY), but there is light in the hope.