I have Elizabeth Meyers with us today, and she’s actually going to be talking with us about overcoming adversity, particularly depression, anxiety, but just adversity in general. Elizabeth, please introduce yourself a little bit and let’s just get the whole conversation teed off.
Yeah, sure. My name is Elizabeth Meyers, and I’m a home school mom. We have eight kids, two of which have launched. My husband’s been active duty military for the past 31 years.
For your husband’s service?
Yeah, definitely. He just retired. He calls it graduated. So we’ve just recently moved to Texas, and we’re settling down in our next phase of life. Our next adventure.
Eight kids is no small amount.
Now, my wife and I, we have two kids, and right now I think this is the complexity of our life. They go to a private school that’s 30 minutes away from our house. And so they’re on different schedules for going back to in class learning because of course. I live in Oregon, where in class learning is like just starting up again, whereas in the other nine tenths of the country, maybe three quarters of kids have been in class for a while. But, yeah, it is a horrendous amount of scheduling to try to get them where they need to be.
I can imagine.
I can’t even imagine.
Yeah. Well, when the world went into lockdown and quarantine, I was like, hey, I’ve been practicing for this my whole life. I didn’t realize it, but I’m like, we’re already home schooling. We already don’t eat out very much because it’s too expensive with that big of a family. And I already die my roots myself. So I’m good to go. It wasn’t a big change.
Yeah. I was going to say if you’re talking with because if you have two that are left still with six, that means you’re socializing is probably within pretty constrained circles. Just because logistically getting eight people anywhere at the same time and back safely is no small task.
Yeah, well, we’ve got it down our line, as we say, potty shoes, car, and that’s like get your stuff and get in the car. We’re headed out to do the next thing and not so much now. Our youngest is nine, but when they were younger, we would pair them up. It was the oldest with the youngest, and then the second oldest was the second youngest. And we had the buddy system because just keeping track of everybody and making sure you didn’t leave somebody somewhere was a thing.
Well, yeah, exactly. I think my metaphor that I would always tell to my friends when they’re having kids is I said, you’re your first child. I’m a football fan. So I’d say your first child is bracket coverage, right? It’s two on one. Your second child is man. Demand it’s man coverage. And then after your third child, it’s zone. It’s just there’s the two of you protecting the end zone.
Right? Exactly. We’ve been outmanned and outgunned for a long time.
But we love it. It’s fun. There’s always something going on.
Anyway, I took us off on a tangent that is completely my fault, but, yeah, tell us a little bit about your story.
Yeah, sure. So with my 6th pregnancy actually ended tragically, my son was still born in the second trimester, and I just was not. I don’t know really how you can be prepared for that, but just the trauma of actually losing him. He was born unexpectedly while we were on vacation. And then just the whole aftermath of that. Our culture doesn’t really know how to grieve the death of a child that was not born first. And I had no clue how to do that. And people just go, oh, you’ll be fine, or have another one. And people kind of sweep it under the rug. And I tried to do that, but I couldn’t move on. I just got stuck in a place on a cruise.
I don’t know, that just seems kind of sociopathic. Don’t worry, you’ll make another one that looks just like it. It’s fine.
Yeah, that’s right. Or I would get the response of, well, you know what? At least your baby wasn’t full term. And that’s kind of like saying, well, at least your baby wasn’t five. At least your child only died when they were three because you’d be more attached. And so to me, it was the same as if I’d lost any of my other children. But to the rest of the world, it was almost like you didn’t even exist. And so there was kind of this duality of my experience versus what other people thought my experience should be.
Like, well, it wasn’t a real baby yet. It’s like, well, yes, it was. And to me, it really was.
Right, and so I got stuck in a bad place of grief and depression. I didn’t really know how to move forward through that. And then initially, I tried to kind of grieve and get help, but when I kept sort of getting brushed off, I just hit it. I’m just like, I’m fine, I’m good. I tried to just ignore it, suppress it, move on, carry my own burden. And that doesn’t work over time. I broke down. Eventually I got to the point where the pain of staying the same exceeded the pain of changing. And so I said, I can’t live like this. I need to make some adjustments. And so I didn’t know what my root cause was, so I kind of attacked it on multiple fronts. This is my military family background speaking here. But I’m like, am I tired because I’m depressed and fatigue is an issue? Or is it that I’m depressed because I’m so exhausted that I’m not motivated to do anything and therefore I don’t do anything with my life and therefore I feel bad about it? So I just decided to attack them all. So physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, I just started taking the next best little baby step in each one of those areas in a step to recovery. And there wasn’t any big dramatic thing. There wasn’t any magic bullet. There wasn’t one thing of this is how you overcome these things, but it was the combined effort of using all of those. Yeah. They’re all integrated.
We kind of tend to approach physical health as one thing, and mental health is a different thing and our spiritual health as something else. But they’re all connected. They’re all interrelated. They all affect each other. And so you can have a physical problem that manifests itself mentally or emotionally with things like depression or anxiety. Or you could have a mental, emotional or spiritual problem that manifests itself physically in terms of illness or a chronic disease or chronic pain. So they’re all interwoven together.
So now that’s kind of my mission, to share the things that I’ve learned. I’m not a professional nutritionist expert person, exercise person, doctor. I’m not a counselor. I’m none of those things. But I’m just a person that has struggled with these things for real. And I’ve had a messy life and I’ve had times where my thoughts kind of run off the rails and went down to dark places where they shouldn’t be. And I know how that feels. And I just want to help other people.
With eight kids. Just the fact that you have the mental coherence to still speak in complete sentences, I think is pretty right.
Exactly. Yes. I told my children I’m like, I do so much by now. Yeah. I used to be kind of intelligent, but I’m like, I gave all my brains to you guys. So now it’s up to you to go out into the world and do good, because I swear with every baby I pushed into the world, part of my brain must have gone with it. I’ve lost the ability to remember nouns. So I make sounds like I need the thing. Oh the vacuum. Yeah, that’s what I need.
I know. I explained to my kids half joking, although I think it might be sort of serious that as you get older, your brain starts getting full. Like for me, my brain is filled with a lot of 80s trivia. And so once your brain gets full, it gets really hard to remember stuff. And that doesn’t happen to you as a kid because your brain is not full yet.
Right? Yeah. Things start dropping off all the time.
Exactly. You just start dropping your stuff off.
Talk to us a little bit about us, meaning the audience. I’m not trying to speak of myself like the third and fourth person. But talk with me and the audience just about kind of how you went about overcoming that, because especially, I think a lot of people really struggle because, as you said, it’s not socially cool to grieve or to really kind of be uneasy. I think there’s a high degree of social pressure to feel like you have it all together now, particularly with social media. I’m going to rag on Facebook and Twitter here, which I personally consider to be like tobacco. It’s basically the digital equivalent of tobacco times heroin raised by marijuana. I think that the mental health destruction that’s happened from social media is just so horrendously unreal. And most people just don’t get it. They just really don’t get it. I should say that I consciously avoid both Facebook and Twitter as much as humanly possible, but because I think what ends up happening is you just unconsciously compare yourself to everyone who only presents the things that either well, I’ve noticed there are two personas on Facebook. There’s the people who try to make everything in their life look perfect and the people who tell you about every single thing that bothers them. Those are the two discerning personas. I find you either hear about every little piece of drama in their life because they have to make their drama your drama, or they’ll want it to make it seem like everything is perfect. And I think everything’s perfect people are, well, the insidious drama people are tough just because it’s like unless you unfriend them, you just can’t get away from them. But I think, like the apparently perfect people, it’s tough because you’re like, well, but I’m not perfect.
Right. It’s to balance that, to be authentic and to be real and to say, hey, my life is messy, but to not make it all about my mess, to find the beauty in that mess, to find the joy and the journey, to be impressed with just the simple things in life.
It’s springtime right now where I am, and just every day there’s some little something to appreciate about God’s creation and about things that are happening. But it is tough. We kind of either fall off the track into the, no, I’m fine. Everything’s great when we plaster on that fake smile, which is where I was for a long time, or sometimes when I’m trying to be authentic and be real, I go off on, well, nobody really wants to hear about that. It kind of has to be that balance, and it’s hard to learn.
Again, I don’t know what the local culture is like where you’re at in Texas, but I know at least in the number of years ago, Southern culture, there was a high amount of social pressure to basically make it seem like everything was fine, even if you’re completely falling apart. And I don’t know if that’s still the case or not. I try to avoid over generalizing, although I’m sure I do it far more than I would understand.
Well, Texas is a big state, so I think it depends on which part. We’re kind of out in the country, and I don’t feel we just got here, but I don’t feel like there’s that going on. But I did feel that in junior high and high school maybe too. That’s just age. Part of it is I just don’t really care anymore. There’s that pressure age right there, right? Yeah. I’m just kind of past that. But I really struggled with that personally for me, because two things. One, I grew up as a dancer. I was in ballet, and it’s all just smile. No matter what happens, you smile and you keep going. And the concept of stage presence was just natural to me. If you mess up, you act like you meant to do that and you keep going because the audience doesn’t know the choreography. So you just pretend like you meant to do it. I kind of took that approach to my life. If something would happen, I don’t react outwardly. I just smile and keep going, which when I’m dealing with something as serious as losing a child, that did not serve me well. And then the second thing was after high school and dance and all of that, I went into the military. And that’s all about military bearing, our pleasure. It has been a great life, and we’re ready for the next adventures that we have. My husband just retired, so we’re getting used to the next thing. But that’s all about military bearing.
And no matter what happens, whether it’s funny or sad or tragic or humiliating or it hurts or whatever, you keep straight faith
those two things together. It has just been grilled into me over and over, and it’s just my natural default of I’m just going to pretend like everything is fine. So I actually have to really concentrate to be authentic and to not say it’s fine when it’s not. And then, of course, like we said, there’s that balance. I remember when I was really struggling with depression, and at the time, they still employed the Walmart greeters at the doors of Walmart, who was usually an older, friendly, super friendly, chatty person. But there was this one guy in our local Walmart at that time, and he was like, hey, how are you? How are you doing? And everything in me wanted to just yell at him and go, I am not doing well. My baby died, and I nearly died, too. And I’m depressed and nobody understands. I wanted to yell that, but you can’t do that to the sweet little guy in Walmart. He would have freaked out. So I just go, Fine. And I keep going. So there’s those times when we do need to be authentic with people who we trust, with people who are close to us. But then there’s also times when somebody’s asking you how you’re doing, but they don’t really want to know. And that’s not really the appropriate place to unload your baggage on them. So it’s just being discerning about those kinds of situations.
Absolutely. Well, let’s see. Now that we’ve had a chance to get intros, I’m not going to say out of the way. I was about to say that. And I’m like that’s actually a very nice way to say intros out of the way like you introducing. Oh, yeah, we’re done with that. Just check the price. Yeah. Okay. Let’s kind of transition a little bit and say, okay, let’s see who’s listening right now. And they are dealing with a lot of anxiety in their life and they don’t know what to do with it. What do you think is the next best step for them to take? Because I think especially in 2020, I mean, this is a year of anxiety. There’s nobody who’s okay right now, even if everything is relatively stable, there’s just been so much disruption. And I think that this is actually kind of the 2020. I suppose it’s 2021 now, but the 2020 is really an analogous situation because there are so many people who have had just so many problems that it’s not really socially acceptable to be going out and looking for sympathy because there’s always going to be somebody who’s had more catastrophe in their life, particularly now. But there’s still a lot of people who just have a lot of anxiety. And how do you go by dealing with that? What do you think are the tools that people can kind of take out of listening to this episode?
Yeah, that’s a great question. And I like that you use the word tools.
Not everything works for every person in every situation. So having a selection of tools in your toolbox where you can try different things out or work on different things is great and caveat.
I think I said earlier, I’m not a mental health professional. This is just one struggling person trying to help other people who may struggle. And anxiety has been huge in the last year. For me personally, it usually comes down to my thought life and just letting my thoughts run amok on their own. And if you kind of try to think of an animal, let’s say a dog, that you want to keep them in the fence. When you remove the fences and just let the dogs go wild, they’re going to get into the trash, they’re going to make problems, they’re going to tear up your yard, they’re going to eat your flowers. And that’s kind of what our thoughts do when we just let them run loose and just go wherever.
And I realized over time that a lot of the anxiety and even some of the depression that I was struggling with was coming from thoughts that I entertained, that I kind of ruminated on that just sort of came up over and over that I was not even really consciously aware of.
You have those background tapes that play in the back of your head and you’re not necessarily listening to that song, but it’s in there and it’s affecting you. And I was recently talking to a friend of mine about how it’s so crazy that you can just be one comment from years ago or from your childhood or something, and that just sticks with you for some reason. How many other thousands of comments were made to us that we’ve forgotten? And then sometimes it’s not even something that someone else has spoken into our life. Sometimes it’s just something that we come up with on our own. Like, I’ll get frustrated with myself and I’ll think to myself, I’m such an idiot, well, that’s not true. That’s really not true. And so when we believe these lies, that kind of insidiously get in there and we don’t challenge it. I think that’s what leads to a lot of anxiety. So for me personally,
it’s taking captive those thoughts and challenging them first to be aware of them, to think about what you’re thinking about, and then secondly, to examine them and go, Is this what I want?
I kind of liking it to a garden. Is this what I want growing in my garden because it’s going to bear fruit? Do I want it to bear, like a watermelon? Or is this going to be a weed that’s going to bear thorns and thistles and things I don’t want? Just like with real weeds, it’s much easier to yank it out when they’re smaller. The more that they’ve been kind of run a rut through your central nervous system and your thinking and your neurons, the harder they are to get out of there. So being aware of what you’re thinking of, then challenging those thoughts and making a deliberate decision, is this true? Is this serving me well? Is this what I want to think about? Is this what I really even believe? You’d be surprised when you start examining your thoughts, how many times you realize you’re like, I don’t even think that’s true, but yet I tell myself that. And also is it kind because I think sometimes we’re harsher to ourselves internally than we would be to anybody else. I say things to myself in my head that I would never say to my children or to my friend or to someone I was trying to encourage. So just kind of put on that different hat of, is this true? Or is this how I would talk to somebody else? And then to just get rid of those thoughts that are not serving I just call them lies, because usually they are just lies. They’re just not even true. And get rid of those and replace them with things that are true and good and right and things that will bear the fruit in your life that you want. For me, that has been the huge thing of dealing with anxiety. Also just being a Christian, coming from a Christian standpoint, obviously, spiritual growth, connection, prayer with God, letting go of things that I don’t have control over. I think our control perception is kind of that’s also a lie. We want to feel like we have control over things and we don’t. And I think that’s part of what’s driven a lot of anxiety over the last year or so is people feel out of control. But we never really were in control to begin with. So just being okay with that, to just say.
God’s God. And I’m not. And that’s okay. I don’t need to be God and I don’t need to take on the burden of fixing everything because that’s not my job.
Well, exactly. Of course, I come from a religious background as well. The faith that I go to is a Lutheran Church, Missouri scented. I’m not trying to make this into a theological conversation, but the crux of our faith belief is that God’s God and doesn’t need my permission to be God. And what I want or don’t want doesn’t influence what God is or isn’t. God is God. My responsibility is to understand and do what God wants.
Exactly. Yeah. And I think sometimes we just get ourselves so wrapped around the axle because we’re trying to be God, we’re not equipped even remotely to do that.
That is very true. Well, okay. So let people know now if they want to connect with you, to either learn a little more or to become a part of your community, where should they go?
So my website is Elizabethmyers.me, and people can connect with me there. There’s a contact form on most social media. I’m at the the Liz Meyers, like T-H-E-L-I-Z Meyers. So that’s for Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, all the places where you don’t like to hang out. That’s for him.
I was going to say, because you’re having a way to get a hold of you. I’m smacking my microphone around here, having a way to get a hold of you there and spending time strolling through the scripts and following everyone’s diatribes, totally different things. I understand that in the contemporary world, people have to be able to get a hold of you on Facebook, but it’s a vortex that will absorb your mind if you let it.
I have a love hate relationship with most things on social media. There’s a lot of good things that happen and there’s a lot of bad things that happen. So it’s just like anything else. It’s a tool. And just like a hammer, you could use it to build a house for someone or you just got to.
make sure you don’t hit yourself with it.
Exactly. That’s right. And my first book is called Undefeated From Trial to Triumph, how to Stop Fighting the Wrong Battles and Start Living Victoriously. And that’s on Amazon. And my second book is Undaunted. Your battle plan for Victoria’s Living and that’s coming out this year. It’s at the editor right now so I’m waiting to get it back with reading written all over it.
So that will be available on Amazon hopefully by the end of year. I don’t have a date yet.
Perfect. Perfect. Outstanding. Well, Elizabeth, I really appreciate your time today and best wishes for continued success for your first book and for a great launch for your second.
Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. Thanks for having me on.
No problem. Thank you.