What A Difference A Year Can Make

Wednesday July 22 2015 8:01 pm | Comments (6) Tags: ,

Hello my friend,

It’s been too long since I’ve written a blog post.

After working part time for fifteen years, I am now working full time.  I’m still with D+H (Formerly Harland Financial Solutions) and I enjoy the challenge.

Working full time, being a grandma to two beautiful grandchildren, and occasionally traveling with our son Gabe has limited my spare time. What little time I have has been dedicated to drafting my first novel.

I’m excited to apply the writing lessons I’ve learned in online classes, retreats and conferences as I craft this first piece of fiction.

The book is tentatively titled – Behind The Smile. 

The story is about Kit Stevenson. A supermom who has successfully managed to keep her head above the rising waters of her chaotic life. Kit, like many of us, has hidden her challenges behind her notable smile. But when she is forced to deal with her secrets and her pain, she learns the power of being vulnerable and authentic — something she wished she’d learned years earlier.


Oh how I relate to Kit. Do you?

One year ago on April 14, 2014, I checked myself in to The Center – A Place of Hope desperate to find answers for the discouragement I couldn’t shake.

No one knew. Or so I thought.

I was sure my smile hid the pain so well. I was on top of it, wasn’t I?

You know, the typical work, family, marriage and health issues.

This was no different than anyone else, right?

I soon learned I was kidding myself when a very good friend called me out. We were talking on the phone one afternoon. She mentioned depression and prayed for me to get some help.

About a week later, I found a book in my mailbox – “Turning Your Down into Up” – by Dr. Gregory Jantz.

NOT ME! I said. I’m on top of it. I’ve got everything under control. Don’t you see my smile?

Depression is all about my grandma, and my mom and my sister. Not about me!

My friends and my counselor asked great questions that pointed me to an understanding that my busy life was a coping mechanism. Going a hundred miles an hour in every which direction kept me from dealing with the truth.

When I took an honest look at my life, I admitted I was suffering from depression and anxiety. I was too proud to admit it.

For years I hid my pain behind the smile.

I’d known it for a long time. But I was afraid to be honest with myself and my family and tell the truth.

I am thankful for honest friends and counselors  to speak the truth in love and point me to HOPE.

Six weeks of individual and group therapy dealing with the whole body approach to health uncovered a mountain of issues I finally understood. I was challenged to face a few things head on. I learned tools for daily living. I realized my life is worth taking time to heal.

As difficult as it was, I am a better person because of what I learned.

I’d like to come along your side to encourage you in your journey as I share more about mine. Would you like to take this walk with me?

Take the first step — Share in the comments about a time where you hid behind a smile.

Smiling with Truth,I'd hidden my painBehind the Smile





  1. Comment by Alicia — July 22, 2015 @ 9:38 pm

    I hide behind my smile often because I am insecure. I feel inadequate as a wife and mother, and I feel like people judge me when it is likely that they aren’t. I am always certain I will move past this and wait for the day to come, but deep down I know that I need to get myself past it. Thank you for sharing your story, Ggi. You are someone I admire and I would never imagine us sharing in this struggle.

  2. Comment by gigi — July 22, 2015 @ 10:15 pm

    Thank you for your comment. I found as I shared with others that I am definitely not alone in my struggle.

    I hope to be able to encourage through my story because that somehow redeems all the pain.

    Praying for you – that God will use our stories to speak life to others.

  3. Comment by Ramona Johnson — July 25, 2015 @ 5:35 pm

    Well, hello Gigi…..I had no idea. I’m glad something close to me was calling your name. I have been thinking of you often. I don’t think I’ve ever hidden behind a smile. Maybe sometimes more. I’m pretty up front with too many I know. My daughter tells me, “Mother, sometimes you have to use more discretion. Do you have to tell everyone your life story?”

    Not to say I haven’t been victim of depressdion. I’ve visited with a counselor for several different occasions.
    That’s all for now….we will chat.

  4. Comment by gigi — July 25, 2015 @ 7:21 pm

    Hi Ramona! So glad we have reconnected. I hope my story will help other people be brave and tell someone what’s going on in their life. Getting help changed everything and gave me tools to take a stand. I am so very thankful that Jesus showed me the way and held me close in the process. Hope to see you soon. Bless you.

  5. Comment by Deb R — November 15, 2015 @ 6:41 am

    Thank you for this post, Gigi. It is just over a year now that my mom passed away. I was her caregiver for 10 years after my dad divorced her. The last four years of her life were the most intense as she really should’ve been in a nursing home, but I sacrificed my own family life to take care of her in her own home. Now that she’s gone, I have been so lost. Some days, there is not even a smile for me to hide behind–only tears and deep sadness. I understand that grief has many phases and is different from other kinds of depression, but I think it requires the same care and attention. I have been trying to self-soothe, but am realizing this is going to take more than just me, myself, and I to get through this. I am looking for a local grief support resources and have an appointment with a medical doctor in a couple weeks to discuss options. But in the meantime, blog posts like yours help me to know that I am not alone. Thank you.

  6. Comment by gigi — November 16, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

    Bless you Deb.

    Thank you for your vulnerable post in reply to my blog. Grief takes time. And because you gave so much of yourself in caring for your mom, I imagine it is a different kind of grief. My mom was sick with depression for fourteen years. For half of that I was her primary caregiver. She didn’t live with me but I was the one taking her to most of her appointments and making sure she was cared for at her assisted living apartment. Toward the end, she was in a nursing home. Good for you and your sacrifice to be with your mom in her home.

    Our time is often consumed when we are helpers. And when that need is no longer there, it is often a big adjustment. My son graduated from high school in the spring after my mom died. I had been his caregiver since he was born. So I can relate to how you feel lost. Suddenly your time and care isn’t needed so much any more. I even questioned my purpose.

    Wrestling through all of this is a part of the healing process. Brene’ Brown calls it rumbling with your story. And in that rumbling, sometimes depression sets in. I’m glad I finally got help for the way I was feeling. I set my pride aside and now I’m doing much better because I admitted I needed the help and I got it.

    I pray that as you continue to seek support in your journey, you will keep me informed. I will pray that the peace will come and that you’ll find a support group that helps you know you are not alone. That’s a big part of the healing. We are truly never alone when Jesus is with us. And that has been my source of hope all along.

    Bless you in your journey. Take care of yourself through the holidays. That can often be a time when the pain increases. But, it can also be your chance to care for others by volunteering or helping someone in need.

    Please do keep me posted. And be totally honest with you doctor about the way you are feeling. They are there to help and understand.

    Thank you again for your story. I appreciate you entrusting it to me. Gigi

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