How Karen Sweeting “Got Equipped” To Deal With Depression – Episode 064

LFL 64 | Deal With Depression

 

There is a lot of stigma around depression, making it that much harder for people to deal with it. So what is depression about, and what are ways you can overcome it? Patrick Veroneau sits down with Karen Sweeting, founder and President of The Optimum Life Academy, to discuss this. Karen had her own battle with depression. She bravely shares her story and goes into detail on how her faith in God saved her. Tune in as she gives some insights from her book Get Equipped: 7 Steps Overcoming Depression & Living the Optimum Life.

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How Karen Sweeting “Got Equipped” To Deal With Depression

There Are Many Approaches To Overcoming Depression. Therapy, Antidepressants And Faith Can Be A Powerful Combination.

If you haven’t experienced depression yourself, you certainly know at least one of the person who is dealing with it or has dealt with it in the past. My special guest is Karen Sweeting. From all outside appearances, here is somebody that was a standout collegiate athlete in basketball who went on to play professional basketball in Europe. From there, she went on to a successful career in hospitality and the biopharmaceutical industry. Yet along with that journey, she was dealing with some very significant bouts of depression. In this episode, she walks us through her journey in the best-selling book that she wrote, Get Equipped: 7 Steps to Overcoming Depression and Living the Optimum Life. This is an episode you’re going to want to read. Let’s get into it.

Karen, I want to thank you. I had an opportunity to read your book. Around the topic of depression, especially from personal experience, I know so many people that are either dealing with it outwardly or more are hiding that depression inside. I know people that have committed suicide because of their depression. Your story and approach here went to my heart. I was looking forward to us being able to have this conversation. Start first with your own experience. What prompted you to want to write this book?

First of all, thank you so much for having me, Patrick, and congratulations to you on all you’re doing with the Emery Leadership Group. I’m honored to be able to share my story. The reason I started to write this book was a homework assignment and it turned into a huge healing process for me to truly forgive myself. That’s why now I’ve started my own company, The Optimum Life, to help people learn how to forgive others, forgive yourself and be an advocate for forgiveness. It’s been such a blessing to have a number one Amazon bestselling book that I want to equip people to be able to live the optimum life. Truly that’s what it’s about. It’s about living the optimum life, being healthy in body, mind and spirit because they’re all correlated. That started as a homework assignment and ended up as a healing journey for me.

What was inspiring as I read that is if somebody else is out there, they may look at collegiate athletes, professional athletes and think, “They’ve got it all together. This isn’t the stuff that gets to them.” To read your story and/or imagine as it’s going on takes a lot of courage and frustration at some point. Being an athlete myself, not at that caliber but you always think you have control over this, “I can do this on my own.”

That’s when I was working for ten years in the hotel industry. It was in October ‘99 that I went to the doctor and they diagnosed me with clinical depression. I was like, “I didn’t even know what depression was.” Many people don’t realize what depression is or if they’re dealing with a family member that has depression, it’s not a matter of, “Let’s pull yourself up by the bootstraps. What’s the problem? Karen, why are you allowing a job to get to you?” At that point, it wasn’t just about my thoughts or a job. It was about the fact that my thoughts were impacting my cortisol levels, which was depleting my serotonin, which then once you get into a real state of clinical depression, you don’t even want to get out of bed.

I’m going to touch on your question about suicide. My mom and dad left everything. They came from Montpelier, Vermont to San Diego, California. As much as I’m grateful that I have those kinds of parents that would leave everything but because of that, it’s the tendency in me to be a people pleaser and wants my father’s approval so badly. I’m the 5th daughter of 5 girls, and my brother was the youngest. That’s why my brother’s death was such a tragic thing for me. My dad came to my apartment. I wasn’t working at that time. I’m trying to get my arms around what is this depression thing and going through the multiple counselors. My mom and dad came to my apartment and were there for five months. One Sunday, they came and said, “Karen, please get out of bed and come to church with us.” I did not want to get out of bed. Clinical depression is paralyzing. It’s hard because I’m the most upbeat, optimistic person but when you get into a physical state of clinical depression, it’s painful for you to watch your family members hurting.

My dad came and they wanted me to go to church but I didn’t go to church. When they walked out and went to church, I was so sick of being sick. I took a handful of sleeping pills. That’s not even in the book. This whole thing of being completely transparent and taking your mask off is important. The more I’m doing it, the more I realize I’m helping other people be set free. Fortunately, my sister was communicating with a friend of mine. My friend had known that I’d taken the pills. Thank God, because I may not be here. My sister came, rushed over and took me to the hospital. I had to drink the whole charcoal nonsense. Depression is complicated and it’s not easy to look in from the outside and try to understand someone that’s going through depression. People are critical, judgmental or have any negativity to say about someone that potentially has either considered suicide. If you ever walked in their shoes, don’t go there. My dad came to pick me up after I was in the hospital and said, “Karen, you must be hungry. Let’s go get you a burger.” There wasn’t any like, “What were you thinking?”

One of my major mentors, Creflo Dollar, is a gentleman that was a Christian counselor. He got a habit of going down to the cafeteria in the hospital he was doing counseling at, and started eating a whole apple pie and continually dealing with people that were battling depression. Here’s a pastor who sat on that Home Depot bucket and turned upside down with a gun in his hand thinking, “How do I kill myself without hurting? If I do kill myself, will I make it to heaven?” If anyone wants to do any research on this topic, you look at Rick and Kay Warren who wrote the book, Purpose Driven Life. Their son Matthew who was battling depression, committed suicide. I truly believe no one is going to jeopardize their eternal destiny, whether or not they take their life or not. I pray to God that anyone that is on the verge of feeling hopeless would reach out to someone and share what’s going on because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Click To Tweet

I wanted to touch upon that with suicide. If anyone is reading this and knows anybody or they are themselves feeling overwhelmed because of things that are going on in their lives, please reach out. Share with somebody how you’re feeling and get the help that you need. Professional help, medication or whatever you need to get back to truly living the optimum life, being healthy in body, mind and spirit. Depression is no joke and not fun. It starts with anxiety. That’s why I love what you’re doing. You’re helping people in their mindsets and look at their behavior.

As it relates to depression, it is unfortunate when you think of all the other diseases and ailments that we have, whether it’s cancer, diabetes or infection. Nobody says, “Snap out of it. Come on. Get out of bed and you won’t have infection anymore.” It doesn’t work that way.

That’s what I wanted so badly for people to have a better understanding. I almost wish, “Can I have a cast on my arm? They would have empathy for me because they see I have a broken arm. My brain chemistry is out of whack. They can’t see. I don’t have bandages around my head for them to see.” Literally, it’s the pathways in your brain. It’s the neurotransmitters. It’s all in the frontal lobe of your brain. It’s quite simple but it’s complicated because you can’t see what’s going on in the brain. When those neurotransmitters aren’t connecting, that’s what creates hopeless thinking.

It’s because you can’t see it like you can in a broken arm where I could say clearly, “You were injured. Your arm is broken. Rest up.” You would never say, “Karen, just think better thoughts and you are going to be fine. You don’t need that cast.” Don’t think that way.

The majority of the doctor’s visits are because of stress and anxiety. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, depressed or anxious, you got to think about what you’re thinking about because the battlefield is in mind and the mind influences the body. There is a spiritual connection to it. Why are you downcast? It is because you’re thinking hopeless thoughts. It’s catastrophic thinking. You start with 1 negative thought, 3 and 5 negative thoughts and before you know it, you’re homeless and living into the nearest bridge. You need to stop the first negative thought and say, “That’s a lie. That is not true.” This is where the word of God became important to me. When that lie would come to my mind, I literally would write the lie in my journal and find a scripture that would counteract it and say, “This is what the truth is. God has a good plan for my life and he can’t lie.”

This brings us to an interesting part of your journey in your book. It’s very much centered around your faith as a component to helping you but it’s not to say that you didn’t go through all of the other avenues. There were multiple approaches to be able to address this. There was one that stood out. It was around life’s challenges that we face that can be overcome by following God’s word. As people might be reading this and say, “What do you do when you’re in that place where you feel like you’ve been abandoned by God?” Also, through whatever challenges like you lost your brother and I lost my dad.

We live in a world where there are good and evil. That’s constantly the continual battle. Cancer or someone being killed by drunk driving. That’s the reality that we live in a fallen world. This is why I call myself a personal growth accelerator because we can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond to what happens to us. That is so critical. Like you, you lost your parents. You could have easily gotten angry at God but God didn’t want your parents to die of cancer. We live in this world where we can see the air we breathe and the water we drink. It’s like, “Why that happens?

LFL 64 | Deal With Depression

Deal With Depression: Depression is so complicated and it’s not easy to look in from the outside and try to understand someone that’s going through it.

 

Sometimes, even with my brother’s death, I could have easily gotten mad at God and say, “Why did you take my brother?” This is where the scripture verse that comes to my mind is Proverbs 3:5-6. We have to trust in him with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understandings but in all of our ways we acknowledge and he promises that he will direct our steps. He also talks about Romans 8:28. The fact that he does work all things together for good, not everything in our lives happens is good. My brother’s death was the thing that was a wake-up call for me to get my life on track. Even though we were raised Catholic, I believe there’s a step further and you need to have a personal relationship with God. Not to get preachy about it but God chose this. It’s like being a professional basketball player. You have the word of God. You can’t double dribble or travel with a ball. You’ve got your basic fundamentals. That’s what I believe the Bible is. It’s a basic instruction before I’m leaving Earth.

This shows you how to live life no matter what topic or what you’re dealing with. It’s the word of God. I can emphasize with people feeling abandoned by God. If you have to make that choice to say, “God does not want bad things to happen in our lives but we live in a world where there’s free will.” My brother-in-law said, “Karen, I don’t even remember a lot about that night,” other than the fact that he had too much drink and got behind the wheel of the car that killed my brother on July 14, 1988. Thank God that he is still married to my oldest sister. They had two boys at that point and proceeded to have four more boys but our family chose to forgive him. Forgiveness is even you saying, “God, I don’t understand why mom and dad are gone, but I want to make the best and most of my life until I’m reunited with them in heaven.” That’s the hope of heaven and our salvation to know that we’re all passing through here. Heaven is a place where we’re all going to end up. None of us are getting out of here alive. We can’t feel abandoned by God.

I remember I was at Jesuit High School. At that time, when bad things happen to good people, we were reading the story of Job. As my mother was sick, this was prior to my dad getting sick, I was trying to understand or relate to this. Even though my faith is certainly still there, I did go through that period. Right after my dad, I remember being in the hospital basically saying out loud like, “There is no God,” at that point. Looking back, it was more out of anger. It was not that I didn’t believe that. It was like a child to a parent that didn’t get what they wanted. The parent picks up the child while it is crying and kicking. As a parent, you’re holding onto your child saying, “It’s going to be okay.” That’s how I felt. I was angry and certainly made many mistakes after that as part of that process, but it is faith that allowed me to continue. In your book, you talked about getting into a routine and how important that is. We had a conversation about where our mind goes when we don’t have a routine. I was wondering if you could speak to that.

I have two sisters. They skipped a year, then me and my brother, so I was always hanging out with my brother and sports was such a big part of that. That is the blessing that came from being an athlete. You see the health that comes from having a good and healthy daily routine. That was the best thing my college basketball coach told me, “If you’re going to be a successful business person, you need a Franklin Planner and write out your weekly and daily goals.” The routine that came from getting well after going through this depression was starting getting up and watching Joyce Meyer’s Enjoying Everyday Life program and Creflo Dollar. Getting back to the gym and working out on a regular basis, eating a good, healthy, nutritious diet and getting back into a social. It’s finding that balance. It’s the optimum life. It goes back to being healthy and having balance in all areas of our lives. That includes our social lives, financial outlook and everything.

For all of us to be healthy and truly live our best potential lives, we need balance in every area of our lives. That was me getting back to that. That’s what happened. When I started to get sick in San Diego, I pulled back from all my social events and going to the gym. That’s what starts to happen. If anyone is reading and feel those patterns start to happen, you start to feel discouraged, anxious, lose your motivation, stopped doing social activities or hanging out with your friends, you need to stop, get professional help and medication. I was never a smoker but my assistant at San Diego CVB smoked so I started to smoke cigarettes. That even threw your body chemistry off even more. I took Wellbutrin to get my body chemistry reactivated.

I’m thankful that it was a situational depression that I’ve never gone back to that place since I overcame it after eighteen months of getting routine back. For anybody, routine is important. Not to be legalistic about it. You feel guilty if you didn’t like, “I’m supposed to work out scripture every morning or my little daily devotional.” It’s the 80/20 rule even with our diets. Have a routine but also give yourself enough grace. Life happens sometimes where you miss a day or your routine is off track once.

Routine is important in terms of occupying our mind because when it’s not active, it goes in places that generally don’t serve us. The talk is not positive. The more we can remain active in doing things and around people, it helps us to not get in that place where we spiral out of control. What’s interesting is you said, “I pulled away from doing things like exercise.” One of the studies that I will often use in terms of the power of exercise was done with a drug called Zoloft, an antidepressant. There were three different arms to this study. It looked at exercise alone, exercise plus Zoloft and Zoloft alone. These were patients that were diagnosed with a major depressive episode. What they found was after four months, the patients that exercised alone 30 minutes a day for 4 days a week did better than the group with exercise and Zoloft or Zoloft alone.

They followed it out for ten months. This isn’t to say that everybody that’s on an antidepressant will stop. What it does is it shows we can create many of these chemicals ourselves, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine through exercise. When you pull back from those things and become more sedentary, you don’t build up your own chemicals to be able to deal with that. It’s something that’s interesting.

We can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond to what happens to us. Click To Tweet

That’s the thing with depression. Depression is a very complicated thing. Even with Zoloft or Wellbutrin, some people will respond well to medication or over with just exercise. There is no judgment and criticism. Whatever it takes to get you back on the right track with your mindset, do it. Each person is going to be different. That’s the basic fundamentals. That’s the way our bodies are wired. We truly need exercise, a proper mindset and a great book, Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. It was a book that helped me tremendously. Also, the Purpose Driven Life because it gives you hope and purpose like, “Why are you even here?” That’s where people get discouraged, “What am I doing? Am I working to pay bills?” You have to have a purpose. What got me out of depression was going to serve people at a convalescent home like going to volunteer because I felt I had a purpose.

You bring up such a great point there which is very much in line with Viktor Frankl. That’s what he talks about. In these camps he said, “The people that often survive were the people that were doing things for other people or felt they had a purpose. There was more to life than themselves.” If you look at much of the research around wellbeing in income levels after a certain income level, what is it that makes people happy? It’s about a purpose. It’s not about yourself anymore. It’s about feeling as though you’ve got something for somebody else.

That’s why I love what I’m doing. It’s like I go tell my story and willing to take my mask off. If the things that have happened in my life can help your life better, that’s the scriptures in Corinthians. The God of all comfort comforted me and helped me get well so now I can turn around and help other people do the same. My assistant coach from UC Davis said, “I went through it. It was awful but you’ll get through it. I did and you will.” I believed him because he had been there. That’s where I’m here to tell anybody that’s going through anxiety or depression right now, “You will get through this. I did and you will too. I’m not a professional psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist but I can share my story and I can give you the tools that worked for me.” That’s what it’s all about. It’s helping other people.

When you talk about routine, what are some of the things that you do that you find powerful for you?

I read my Jesus Calling little daily devotional and look up the scriptures that go along with it. I’ve been doing this since 2006. My husband and I love to look at it year by year. Sarah Young wrote it. If anyone does not have a good daily devotional, it’s a quick one-page read. That is something my mom and my sisters all do every morning. Not to be legalistic about it. We don’t have the little cults or anything. We all like to be on the same page and say, “Did you read Jesus Calling?” That is one. I’ve been doing the Beachbody. It has videos that you can get. I worked out with Jericho in the basement. It’s 20 to 30 minutes quick. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Just simple but do it consistently. The biggest thing is being consistent.

My husband and I are trying to go more vegan. The research is showing more that our food has got bad and processed, even the chicken and beef. We still have our chicken and our burger but at the same time, we’re trying to be consistent about a routine of eating well and involved with the community or church. You got to have some down-quiet time to think about what are you taking on and, “What did I have on my to-do list yesterday?” If anything, the Jesus Calling, working out, looking at my to-do list for the day and you have to have a quiet moment to take on the day. Even as I go through the week, it’s looking at Sunday night of reviewing my week. That’s something that I started way back in the hotel industry. Looking at your upcoming week. Thinking about what you were going to accomplish last week and if you didn’t, then even looking at month at a glance and vacation time too. You’ve got to be intentional about carving out good quality time with your family.

You mentioned journaling. Is that something every morning for you?

LFL 64 | Deal With Depression

Deal With Depression: The optimum life goes back to being healthy and having balance in all areas of our lives and that includes our social lives, financial outlook, everything.

 

Yes. What I do is I’ll write down the scriptures. I made the journals that go with my book, The Optimum Life Journaling. What I’ve been challenging a lot of people to do is the part of having gratitude, calling it a joy journal, thinking about things each day like what are you thankful for. It’s the reticular activation system with blood pressure meds. Whatever you focus on expands. You have to be intentional about writing down things that you are thankful for. What journaling daily do for me is like, “What’s going on that day? What prayer requests do I need? God, I need your help on this thing.” When I look back through, I have boxes of journals but what it does is increase my faith to say, “God got me through that.” It shortens my learning curve of, “That’s what I did when I got through that.” Even speaking things out loud like, “God says he has a good plan for my life. Let’s go take on the day. I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Speaking the word of God out loud is important.

There is a lot of power to writing it down than just thinking about it. A couple of lines that I remember Wayne Dyer used to say is, “Thoughts are things and words have a weight.” The point of that was exactly what you’re saying. We oftentimes get what we focus on. These thoughts are things. They will take a life of their own if we haven’t controlled what that thought is going to be. That’s important.

I have a vision board on my wall. It’s important once a year to do a vision board, “What is your upcoming year look like in all pockets of your life, personally, professionally, financially and physically?” It goes back to what you focus on. If you focus on all the things that you can’t stand about your job, spouse or the community that you live in, it’s only going to get worse but if you choose intentionally to focus on the things, “The strengths that my husband has, things that I do enjoy about my job or my career,” it’s all mindset.

Along those lines, somebody could say, “My marriage is terrible.” As opposed to saying, “Why is my marriage good? What are the positives?” We’re going to focus on those things. You will build off of those continually. Many of the things that you mentioned are things that I’ve tried to implement in a lot of the work that I do off of research by a gentleman named Shawn Achor. He was a Harvard researcher and did what was called The 21-Day Happiness Challenge. There were five things that he spoke about.

Gratitude was one of them. One of the activities was that participants had to write down three things every day that they were grateful for. What is interesting about that or how I have tried to push myself on that is, “Don’t just be grateful for the things that are positive.” As an example, if I can find a way to be grateful for a challenge that I’m dealing with, it takes away some of the negative power that that challenge has for me. If I think, “I’m going to be grateful for this because some way I don’t know yet, but I’m going to grow from this. I will gain something from this if I’m grateful.” That stretches our ability to be grateful for stuff.

You had to write down at the end of the day two sentences of something that went well. You start out and end your day in a great place. You have to do something for somebody else. During the day, either send them a note or call them to tell them what you appreciate. That’s the purpose of being for others. The exercise was one of the others and it was only ten minutes. The fifth one was around meditation. Find some quiet time. Minimum of two minutes a day. Those are the five things and you didn’t even have to do them every day.

I need to look at that gentleman. I love that 21-Day Happiness Challenge because there’s so much merit to that. It’s stopping to be intentional. My husband left me in on the coffee maker, “I can’t imagine my life without you.” I bought a Mr. and Mrs. package at Hobby Lobby but we try to be intentional because we both gets busy. That whole thing of The 5 Love Languages is also very helpful. Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of it. It can be for children, spouses or even doing it in the workplace. It’s either a word of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time or gift-giving.

It’s like if you speak French, in order for me to communicate with you, I need to learn how to speak French. If you speak German, I need to learn how to speak German. If I say to you in German but you only speak French, “I love you,” you’re not going to understand what I’m saying. It’s the same thing with my love languages words of affirmation. This helped my husband and tore it off out of the little coupon book. He’s not a word of affirmation person but that’s my love language. It’s learning each other’s language. Even with employees or children. Learning what makes them feel loved which is going to make them feel motivated. It’s the science of decision-making, getting the most out of optimizing people’s lives and behavior. People need to feel loved and appreciated.

Have a routine but also give yourself enough grace if you miss a day sometimes. Click To Tweet

Those five things to make it easier on you, I call them your POWER. Each one of those letters is an acronym for one of those behaviors. P is Praise. Those are gratitude and the three things. O is for Others. Do something for somebody else during the day. W is the Writing at the end of the day the 2 or 3 sentences of what went well for the day. The E is Exercise. R is Relaxation or that meditative part. You can ask or challenge yourself, “Have I had a POWER day? Have I done those things?”

If people would implement those simple types of things honestly, that’s powerful.

Back to a couple of other areas that I found fascinating and challenging in your book. It’s what you mentioned about forgiveness. You talked about it in terms of forgiveness of self and others, then being an advocate for forgiveness. The first two are pretty basic or clear in terms of how it feeds into depression as well as, “Forgiving myself or others for their past actions.” Could you expand a little bit on the last one?

In my challenge and journey of going through and overcoming depression, what I learned is that depression is anger turned inward. As far as forgiving others, that falls in the line of us having to forgive my brother-in-law and me forgiving myself of some mistakes that I’ve made in my past. Being an advocate for forgiveness, you and I both know as far as being raised Catholic, we’re all going to make mistakes. In our community, it’s a matter of we need to encourage and forgive each other. Unforgiveness is toxic and we think about it all wrong. This is why I try to get people to implement forgiveness, “Forgiving others and yourself.”

How many times are you having a conversation with your spouse, coworker or colleague and you hear some type of conflict? It aligns with conflict resolution. We need to be an advocate for forgiveness. That’s the whole importance of having a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ, understanding that that’s why Jesus died on the cross for us to be forgiven. It comes down to more of a community level of our culture. Look what’s going on in our world. It’s polarizing. We need to come together on choosing to focus on what we agree upon and respectfully agree to disagree on the things that we don’t. If we get offended and we allow unforgiveness, bitterness or if someone tweeted something 25 years ago and we’re going to bring it back up, our community needs to embrace forgiveness.

As I read that, it was, “Forgiveness of self. Forgiveness of others.” This last one was like, “This is heavy. There’s a lot to it.” I agree with you. It’s easier said than done. It’s necessary.

It would make the world a better place.

LFL 64 | Deal With Depression

Deal With Depression: Faith gives us hope. Depression is hopelessness. When you don’t have hope, that’s the infancy stages of falling into that spiral of depression.

 

You go on to talk about hope. I had a question as it relates to hope versus faith. What is the difference for you?

“The hope of salvation,” is the verse that comes to my mind and there’s another verse that talks about hope being the anchor of our souls. Faith is the evidence of things hoped for but things not seen yet. You basically have faith that something is going to happen. As you and I talked about a little bit before, I was hoping something to happen. My mom and I talked about that HOPE is an acronym for Helping Other People Endure. Even the book that I wrote with Celebration of Womanhood: Celebrating Life With A Dose Of Hope. That’s what we’re supposed to do is to truly help other people endure. For me, hope is the anchor of everything that life is about, the hope of our salvation and knowing that we are going to spend eternity with God, not separated from God. That’s what depression is. It’s hopelessness. When you don’t have hope, that’s when the hopelessness sits in. That’s the infancy stage of falling into that spiral of depression. You have to have hope. It’s the anchor of my existence. I have hope. I’m hopeful.

That’s one of those words that I’ve always struggled with. I’m all about faith. Hope is one of those that as you searched, you first clenched up and went, “I hope this works out.” To me, it feels almost like a beggar when I hear the word help. The way you explain it certainly has more weight to it. One of the things that I once heard and have used several times is, “Know faith, no fear.” Just apply on words, “If you know faith, then you don’t have fear. Whereas if you have no faith, then you know fear.” I know for myself that it’s a continuous reminder of, “Do you have faith? If you have faith, then you will believe that even though you’re struggling right now, things are going to work themselves out.” I have to do the work. That’s not to say, “Things are going to work out, then I don’t have to do anything.” It’s the Law of Attraction, “I got to do the work too.”

I love this acronym, FEAR for False Evidence Appearing Real. When you think about what are you afraid of, that’s what God says, “Do not be afraid,” over 365 times in the Bible. It’s truly about taking every thought captive. That’s the other thing with the routines. In the shower, I have ten verses that I speak out loud over my day of like, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That’s like all my shower prayers.

We’re programming our minds to be able to address this. I’ve heard the FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real. From a positive standpoint, they said, “I’ve switched that to Face Everything And Rise.” You have several steps in here that you recommend and certainly, I don’t want to have you go through all of them. There’s so much here that’s worth of picking up this book and reading it themselves. If somebody is reading this that either they know somebody or they are going through this themselves, is there anything that you’d say, “Here’s a great first step?”

The front side of the book is about my journey of overcoming depression and truly living the optimum life. I’m honoring my father, who was such my mentor. I miss him so much. He died of cancer in 2006. He passed it at 6:10 in the morning. There’s a scripture in Ephesians 6:10, which talks about putting on the full armor of God. It was Paul who wrote 2/3 of the New Testament. He was imprisoned. When he looks at the Roman soldiers in the different books of the New Testament, he correlated the Roman soldiers’ armor with different parts of the helmet of salvation meaning, “Watch your thoughts, the breastplate of righteousness, guard your heart, the belt of truth, making sure you’re only believing the truth. The shoes of peace.”

My husband and I have done some medical and dental outreaches with Joyce Meyer Ministries. How beautiful are the feet of those who spread the gospel? The shoes of peace. The sword of the spirit is the word of God, the shield of faith. The second half of my book is all about walking through those different parts of the armor. As you said, “We live in a fallen world where there are good and evil. There’s no backside to the armor because God wants us always advancing in our lives. God has our back.” An honor of looking at where all we are because of the way my father handled the fact that my brother-in-law was driving the car that killed my brother, I want to give honor to my father and that legacy of he taught us as his daughters to truly, what does forgiveness look like here?

My father lost his only son and took the lead of our heavenly father who lost his only son. He wanted the good to come out of it. He could have easily gone on a very different route and we would all be in a very different place. In the second half of the book, I wanted to honor my father and that’s dad way of saying to us, “The scripture says in Ephesians 6:10, ‘Be strong in the Lord and the power of his might and put on the full armor of God.’” The thing about it is we need to never take it off. If someone is battling depression, you need to make sure that you have your armor on because we live in a fallen world where unfortunately, bad things happen and going to happen. Our biggest test is how are we going to respond to those bad things that happen and allow it to be post-traumatic growth versus post-traumatic stress disorder.

Depression is anger turned inward. Implement forgiveness. Forgive others and forgive yourself. Click To Tweet

Along those lines on the second half of the book was well laid out. What you didn’t mention was at the end of each one of these chapters when we talk about routine, this isn’t about, “Read this and hope it sticks.” There’s an opportunity for people to ask the first two questions, “What can I do today with what I read in this chapter?” Not, “What can I do next week?” The next question, “How will this help me?” The motivation is the why there. When we can say, “This is why this will help me.” You’re prompting people to put this into practice and believe that it will help them.

Every chapter has those three questions and part of this chapter would be, “What I share with others?” It’s that whole thing again. We need help. We’re all on this journey together. That’s why we need community. The most important part of people is to take their masks off because when you can share with other people things that you’ve gone through, it helps in your healing process. We can’t have secrets. We can’t have unconfessed sin in our lives because it’s important to share those things because it sets you free to move on and to know that no matter what you’ve done, you’re forgiven. You’re okay. There’s no measuring shit.

I heard Miles McPherson. He’s played for the San Diego Chargers and a pastor at the Rock Church in San Diego. He was preaching about sin. There’s a difference between a lie, someone having an adulterous affair or watching pornography. It affects your brain differently. There is no measuring stick to sin but there is a difference in the sin but they’re all forgiven. It’s a matter of you got to change your behavior but to not live in that secret or that hiding place of shame and guilt that will destroy you. All of it is correlated with living the optimum life of being transparent and take the masks off. Social media is very dangerous in that space. That’s why I love what you’re doing. You’re challenging people to take action. We need to make a positive contribution to this world that we live in.

Thank you so much for this conversation. It has been fabulous. I believe that somebody is going to read this that either it’s going to impact themselves or they’re going to share this with somebody needs to know this. That I truly believe. I want to thank you for taking the time to share some very uncomfortable things that have the ability to make such a difference in somebody else’s life.

I’m happy to do it. If I can help anyone, they could go to my website, KarenSweeting.com or email me, CoachKarenSweeting@Gmail.com. I’ll be happy to help anyone. Thank you, Patrick.

Karen’s story is incredible. From the outside, there is this stigma that we have toward people that have depression or anxiety. Because of that, it’s a secret stigma that prevents us from being able to deal with this out and be open. If you found this episode valuable and helpful, I hope that you will forward this to somebody that you think can benefit from this. My next request is when you go on and leave a rating, leave a comment because that’s how this message continues to get out there. If you want to reach out to me personally, you can do it through Instagam or Twitter, @CoachPatrickV as well. Until our next episode. I hope you’re able to go out there and rise above your best.

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