Excerpts of Erynn

a blog about… nothing in particular and everything at once

I Got a Tattoo… Two Years Ago July 21, 2017

Filed under: Depression,diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 11:44 pm

Photo Jul 21, 11 19 56 PMToday marks two years of (more) freedom. Today marks two years since I committed in permanent ink in my skin to cleaning up my self-talk. It’s two years of learning, of growing, of progress. Sometimes it’s felt like two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes it’s felt like three steps back, for that matter. But I’ve come a long way in my journey with depression and suicidality (for one thing, I can say/ type that word! It doesn’t feel like it holds the power or shame over me that it did… though it still makes me nervous!). Here are some things I’ve learned and worked to ingrain for myself…

  • It doesn’t matter what others think. It matters whether or not I’m living up to God’s standards, and it matters what my husband thinks. Other than that, no one’s opinion matters even one whit (which is not to say that their advice is meaningless, unwanted or useless… but once a decision is made, others’ opinions become moot).
  • Taking care of myeslf is not only okay; it’s necessary.
  • It’s okay to have a down day, and it doesn’t have to be a down day by global standards. Denying a down day only makes it worse.
  • Things don’t have to be perfect to work (see the flub in my tattoo next to the “y”?)
  • Photo Jul 21, 11 17 32 PMAn ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Maybe two. If I keep up my self-care, or at least most of it, things go much better for me.
  • Sometimes self-care isn’t fun, but it’s still necessary. (Flossing? Blah)
  • Word definitions matter. Things get twisted on a blue day. Words that might be harmless one day get redefined, and turned into weapons. This is one of IB‘s best tricks lately. “Silly” means “fun” on a good day, but on a bad day, it means “frivolous and bird-brained” (don’t we say some ugly things to ourselves? I’d never call someone else bird-brained!).
  • I can turn a down day around… at least somewhat.
  • Some of my down days are hormonally related. It seems like since I had my youngest, depression is a PMS symptom for me. So is a SERIOUS hankering for chocolate, and when that time rolls around, I indulge moderately. Chocolate really is medicinal, y’all. ;)

My list could go on and on. But I’m so excited about this progress. There’s a passage in the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand** (it’s not in the movie) about the stranded soldiers in a partially deflated raft with sharks below, occasionally rubbing their backs on the bottom of the raft. The guys on the raft don’t know when a shark might jump over the edge and try to drag them down into the depths… and THAT is what depression felt like. It felt like one wrong move would bring the sharks. I felt the sharks just below the surface always. If they swam away for a moment, it wasn’t a relief, it was a terror that when they struck, it would be doubly hard.

But not so now.

The day after I got my tattoo, it felt like the sharks sank 10′ down. In sight, yes. But not so ever-present. Today, they usually feel out of sight. I don’t think it was the tattoo itself (ink in skin is not an anti-depressant). I think it was the acknowledgement of my problems and issues, and the irreversible commitment to (and thus the major step toward) healing. [I almost put “indelible” instead of “irreversible.” That would’ve been punny. ;) ]

Photo Jul 21, 11 07 06 PM

My hair went from several inches past my shoulders to touching the tops and lots of layers. By the way, some numbers say I’m a millennial, but my selfie skills say I’m not. Haha!

Today I spent the end of the day by myself, out and about. Honestly, it took some pushing from my husband for me to do it. But I’m glad I did. This morning I decided I wanted to celebrate this anniversary, and I knew just how I wanted to do it. I feel like I’ve come a long way in fixing my inner monologue, cleaning up my self-talk, and now I want to shift my focus towards self-care. My plans were along those lines. I wanted to go get my hair cut (something I haven’t done in over two years) and I wanted to sit at Starbucks and reflect on & write about the past two years. Over the course of the day, IB did his best to turn my planned celebration and self-care into a silly self-indulgence. And it worked. Once I handed the kiddos over to Jeremy and was trying to pick out a new hairstyle, the twister’s twisting had done its work. But Jeremy encouraged me to go. And my dear best friend (who always takes his side!! Sometimes I tease her that I need a new best friend who will take MY side every once in a while!!) encouraged me to go. So I did. I got my hair cut. The sweet stylist didn’t even charge me for the shampoo & style that she should’ve, so I tipped generously and was still able to go get some of the products she’d used to fix my hair (in cheaper Walmart-available versions).

Photo Jul 21, 11 21 48 PM

Then I took myself out to dinner, and did some journaling while I ate, and now I’m sitting at Starbucks in the warm July (amazingly bug-less!!) night air… writing this.


Before I sign off, I want to make something very, very clear. I am NOT saying that what worked for me will work for everyone. I am NOT saying that I have found the solution for depression and suicidality. I am saying that this has really helped me, and I’m glad, and I’m inviting you to be glad with me. That’s it. If any of it helps you, too, fantastic. But I have no way to know whether it will or not, so if you need help, then please, please, please GET HELP. Get whatever help you need, and the sooner, the better.

**I really enjoyed the book Unbroken, BUT… you’ve heard of cussing like a sailor, right? Well, sounds like some soldiers in the Army aren’t much different in that regard. There are definitely some R-rated things in there.

Part One: I Got a Tattoo
Part Two: Bad Day
On self-care/ prevention/ helps: What to Do on a Blue Day


The spider incident October 29, 2016

Filed under: diary,Marriage — Erynn Sprouse @ 5:47 pm

Spiders and I… we’re not really friends. There’s a meme with a house up in flames and the caption, “There was a spider, I panicked. But I think it’s gone now.” I don’t know… sounds like a pretty reasonable response to me.


The other day I was driving our 12 passenger van when I spotted a rather large jumping spider just to the left of the windshield.

In other words, it was only about 12″ from my head.

I’d like to tell you that I calmly pulled over the van and smashed the thing, but that wouldn’t really be blog-worthy, now would it? And I wouldn’t get to tell you the best part. But more on that in a minute.

It took some deep breaths to do it smoothly, but I got the van pulled onto the shoulder of the road, slammed it into park, and clambered over to the passenger side.

Isaiah is my spider guy. He finds them fascinating and really enjoys learning about them. We have a long-standing agreement, though: he kills them when I ask. I don’t think he minds, anyway. He’s done it enough times that he knows the drill pretty well. Don’t take a shot unless you know it’s going to land. A disappeared spider is worse than a spider in plain view (you know spiders like to ambush, right?).

Isaiah came forward, shoe in hand, ready to do his duty, but the spider was sly, and stayed in the nooks, crannies and crevices where Isaiah couldn’t get it. Meanwhile, my panic was rising. I called Jeremy, but he didn’t answer the first time… or the second… or the fifth. When I finally got to talk to him, I explained the situation, and told him he needed to come immediately.

While we waited, the boys and I watched that spider constantly. The only time I took my eyes off of it was when I was checking to make sure the State Trooper across the highway was still occupied. I was sure he’d seen us and would come over as soon as he was finished with the semi he’d pulled over, and that was a conversation I didn’t want to have. There’s just no good way to explain that you’re pulled off the road and standing on the running board of your van because you’re scared of a spider smaller than a nickel. I’m all for backing the blue, but I’d rather not be their source of entertainment.

When Jeremy arrived, he asked where the spider was and in less than a minute, the creeper was on the asphalt. Jeremy hugged & kissed me and said, “Now let’s get out of here before the police man comes over here” (read my mind!).

So he rescued me. But that wasn’t the best part. The best part was at 3:08.


“It was my privilege.”

There could be no better response. He didn’t laugh at me, chide me, or even smirk. He counted it his honor to save me from fright and embarrassment. I’ve thought a lot about that statement. His privilege. How so? Well, he’s the only one I’d have called without hesitation. He sees a side of me, knows depths of me that no one else knows. And not only does he love me anyway, but he considers it a privilege.

And that’s simply… well… I just don’t have the words.



What to do on a blue day October 27, 2016

Filed under: Depression,diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 10:31 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve written here before about my issues with depression… though, to call it “depression” somehow feels grandiose, like an overstatement. I suppose the label doesn’t particularly matter. Whatever it is, it’s gotten better (so much better!) and less frequent, too. Still… there are days like today. On days like today, I feel… fragile. Scared. Anxious. Small. Incapable. Wilted. I second (and third) guess everything I do. Everything feels much bigger than it really is. A cloak of sadness, melancholy, blue hangs on my shoulders, wraps itself around me, mutes all the colors, casts a fog over my mind, and makes everything difficult…

But it’s just a blue day. It’s nothing like these days used to be before I got my tattoo. It would be hard to express just what an amazingly effective and positive tool my tattoo has been. Even on blue days, I don’t have thoughts of ending my “sentence.” I’m not scared of myself or what I might do. I’m MUCH more in control. And I know the blue will pass (I can say that it’s just a blue day).

Another huge difference between then and now and is that I’ve learned what to do. It isn’t exactly that I’ve learned how to help  dig myself out, but I have learned some things that help me cope, get along, not sink… and I drew this to help remind myself of the tools I can use. I hope it’ll be of use to someone else, too.


The first thing I do when I start to feel that cloak settling down on me is to eat. Something. Anything. Usually, if I think about it, I realize that I haven’t eaten in some time. The next thing I do is either sing or put on some music. Then I text my best friend. From there, it’s survival mode. If I were sick with the flu, getting better would be the focus of my attention. It’s kind of like that with a blue day. I’ve learned to give myself permission to shift focus from getting stuff done to meeting basic needs (mine and the kids’). Sometimes the blue cloak comes out of nowhere, but usually I find that it comes when I’ve been neglecting self-care. If I use my tools constantly and consistently, I can pretty much keep the blues away.

If you read this and have questions about any of this, I’d be happy to help in any way I can; just leave a comment with your question or if you’d rather talk privately, just say so, and I’ll contact you by the email address you register with.

In HIS service,



I got a tattoo August 10, 2015

Filed under: Depression,diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 1:01 pm

Recently I told a friend, “You’re going to think I’m joking, but I’m not. I got a tattoo.” Despite my warning, she thought I was joking. Maybe you’re waiting for the punch line too… but there isn’t one. I got a tattoo.

I’ve shared my reasons with my nearest and dearest and decided I wanted to write an explanation that I could point people to as needed. Really, I don’t owe an explanation to anyone, but sharing the reasons I got my tattoo is part of the reason I got it (that makes sense, right?).

So here goes.

There aren’t many facts about me or my life that are secret– I’m not a very private person– but perhaps the depths of some of the facts are. It’s not secret that depression has been an issue for me, but I’ve painted a far rosier picture than reality, even for my sweet hubby and, really, even for myself. Like Impressionism vs. Realism. The depth of it, the reality of it starts with “attempted” and ends with… well… it didn’t. Could’ve ended. Almost ended. But didn’t.

Let’s have an aside for a moment.

First, please excuse my vagueries. It makes a difficult subject, a difficult confession a little easier. I feel exposed enough. Forgive me hiding behind turns of phrase.

Second, if you know me and you’re reading this and feeling like you should’ve known, like I should’ve told you… you might be right. Maybe I should’ve. But that’s the nature of the thing, isn’t it? It lives in the dark, flourishes in the dark and withers in the light. Like any other thing with a mind of its own, it has a sense of self-preservation. And so I didn’t tell you because it wouldn’t let me. And in those moments when it didn’t have a grip on me, I suppose I was embarrassed & ashamed. For that matter, I am embarrassed and ashamed now… but I’m learning not to be. I’m determined not to be.

I have never felt like my depression was the haywire-brain-chemistry kind and medication isn’t my thing anyway. My depression has always been due to ugly self-talk from a vicious inner-bully (IB) who, like a skilled gardener, thrives off of as well as feeds my poor self-care habits. But I have been unable to stop the barrage… until recently. A while ago, I came across the phrase “only love today” on a blog called Hands Free Mama. At first, in my literalist, perfectionist mind, I balked at the phrase as an impossibility, but earlier this year, I guess I was desperate. It seemed like depressive episodes were coming more often and hitting harder. One incident really worried me. Whenever other people (besides my husband and kids) are around, I’ve never found it hard to shut down IB, be genuinely happy and enjoy my friends and family (it’s one of the things that tells me mine isn’t a clinical depression). But this was different.

cool dudes with Evelyn\
Thoughtful friends had gifted us with a photography session and the photographer wanted to come to the house. To my very messy house. She was going to be looking for a place to photograph the kids… inside my very messy house. I cannot explain the level of panic that set in. It is no exaggeration to say that I was non-functional. I could.not.stop.crying. Bawling. Crying so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. That had never happened before. When it came down to the wire, I could always at least fake a smile. But not this time. In a moment of strength, I texted a friend who had also dealt with depression and explained my situation. She offered to come over, and in a moment of superhuman strength, I hushed IB long enough to accept her kind offer. The day worked out, the pictures are lovely (and were taken outside!), but I was scared. It was as though my depression had entered another stage. Like cancer gone from stage three to stage four.

IMG_4904So I decided to try this “only love today” thing as a way to quiet IB. It worked pretty well, actually. So well that on a self-indulgent whim, I bought a bracelet off the Hands Free Mama site. When it came, I started wearing it nearly constantly. It worked better than I’d have ever thought possible, and soon it was almost a good luck charm or talisman. I would see the bracelet out of the corner of my eye and automatically read it, check my inner monologue and nearly always find that IB was whispering ugliness and spreading gangrene. But the words were right there and I would say the simple phrase to myself… “Stop. Only love today…” And as if a spell had been cast, IB would hush. Most of the time, anyway. The bracelet had one flaw: impermanence. On days when I forgot it after dishwashing or showering, I didn’t have the reminder I needed. And a time or two, IB was too strong and took it off so as to reign supreme. Overall, though, the difference was astounding.

Meanwhile, I came across something else interesting and powerful: “Project Semicolon.” The tagline is “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” Honestly, I don’t know much about this movement beyond the tagline, so I wouldn’t say I’m one of them, but what an idea! I think what they’ve done is clever, simple and elegant. They’ve turned a basic punctuation mark into a symbol imbued with hope and victory. A quick google search will turn up tattoo after tattoo people have gotten of semicolons in support of depression/suicide/mental illness awareness. I wanted one too. “But I couldn’t,” I thought to myself. “What would people say?” And that’s when I recognized IB’s philosophy: what other people think of you is most important.

could. And I could fix my bracelet’s flaw as well.

2015-07-21 21.37.35Soon I was doodling designs, researching tattoo shops, first tattoo tips, and asking a few trusted, godly friends if they thought it was a good idea or not. Almost universally, as soon as I explained what I wanted and my reasoning, my friends agreed with me… this could be a really powerful tool. Everyone cautioned against haste and Jeremy asked me to draw my design on my wrist for a while to see if I really did want to make such a permanent mark. He’s a wise man and his request made me all the more attached to the idea. So… three weeks ago, on a Tuesday night, I drove to AJ’s Ink in Stephenville and got inked (which is how we tattooed people say it. I guess. Haha!). It’s much larger than I had planned. The tattoo artist advised me that the way I had it planned, the ink would run together and it wouldn’t be clear. It had to be bigger. Made me nervous and I almost backed out. But I’m so glad I didn’t because it has been the tool I’d hoped it would be, and more.


… in my handwriting… because it’s MY declaration. My declaration of so much.

The semicolon part of my tattoo is a permanent declaration, a promise, a vow to myself and any who might see it that a voluntary end is off the table. Non-negotiable. It’s a promise to keep fighting and it’s an identifier for anyone who might know what the semicolon stands for that they– that we– are not alone. The “only love today” part is both goal and reminder. It is a goal to be loving toward myself both in my head and in my actions. Love is an active thing, and it reminds me that I must take care of myself. It is a reminder of my goal to let love rule my interactions with others. It is a reminder not to let things penetrate my heart that don’t come from love; the things that people say aren’t always born of love. The way the tattoo is designed, it also reads “only today,” and it reminds me that today is all I need to worry about.

That’s what I’d expected and planned though. What I didn’t expect was the feeling of freedom I had the morning after I got my tattoo. I think that’s when I finally grasped how dark things had really been. I hadn’t realized how very afraid I had been, how scared of myself I had felt… until I wasn’t any more. I was Dr. Jekyll freed of Mr. Hyde.

Of course, depression isn’t solved so easily as getting a tattoo on your wrist. It’s a process. Sometimes a long process. It has been long for me, but I’m so pleased… so VERY pleased… to be where I am and I feel like I’ve taken such a leap forward. I rather doubt others will notice; this has been such a private struggle. But I notice. And it bears repeating… I am so VERY pleased.

And while I am still embarrassed and a bit ashamed… I’m so pleased to share this with you. Joy is best shared.

Update: I got a tattoo (part 2)


Productive(ish) Procrastination July 4, 2014

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 12:05 pm

I really should be working on my lessons for next week. Things are percolating up there, though… and I don’t think they’re quite ready to pour out. Having left this blog to its own devices for three months, I think it feels a little lonely. And I’ve missed it. Also, I have some memories piling up that I don’t want to lose. I used to upload a lot of pictures to Facebook and that was kind of my photo/memory album… but I quit Facebook (except for Come Fill Your Cup purposes). It’d been a long Wednesday and as we headed out for evening Bible class, I wondered to myself what I’d accomplished in the day. I thought and thought… and realized I’d gotten basically NOTHING done all day because I’d been sucked into Facebook world. I’d been occupied with other people’s children while I waved my own away with irritation. I’d been absorbed in other people’s rantings while my own children ranted at each other and I didn’t even know why. It was… well… it was shameful. I’m only putting it down here so I remember for myself why I quit and so that if you, whoever you are, have been caught in the same trap, I can encourage you… quit. Just get off of Facebook or Twitter or whatever else has sucked you in and taken you captive. Re-engage in your own REAL life. Yes… Facebook friends are real friends. But they probably have phone numbers you can call or text and email addresses you can use to ask how they’re really doing (instead of Facebook stalking them and seeing only what they have deemed world-viewing-worthy… their highlight reel) and faces you can look into as they talk… those really are better ways to connect. So just do it, okay? Get off. And, Erynn, if you’re reading this down the line, remember: you made the right decision getting off. Don’t get back on. It’s in your personality type: you will get sucked in. Okay… off of that rabbit trail and on to why I got on here to begin with.

Conversation with Isaiah while we were camping:
Me: whatcha doing, Buddy?
Isaiah: watching this beautiful bug.
Me: oh really? Which bug?
Isaiah: <pointing> this one.
Me: oh, uh-huh. That one is called a cockroach.

As my good friend said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


Isaac & grasshopper

Here’s Isaac with his now-dead (though he was sure it was still alive) grasshopper. He wanted to keep it, but I didn’t want him to… mean mom… I should probably let him keep more bugs. Anyway… he explained that Annabelle has a grasshopper catching club and he’d already caught two and had to let them go, so he wanted to keep this one. We compromised with a photo for proof.

20140704-121132-43892279.jpgJoey is still loving to suck his thumb… and he’s added sticking his index finger up his nose. Crazy kid. We may need to break him of his thumb sucking. The skin on his little thumb is getting icky and it doesn’t look healthy. I figure it’s a natural near-instinct for him to suck his thumb and I’m pretty sure he sucked it in utero, so I consider it a generally fine, God-given coping mechanism that he’ll outgrow. I’m not all that concerned. But I’m starting to become concerned. We’ve heard lots of stories of kids’ habits being broken by traumatization. There was a granddad who told his grandson he’d cut his thumb off. There was a mom who got the doctor to say the kid’s thumb would fall off. The most common way we’ve heard is that the kids in school made fun of them until they stopped. My mom painted my thumb with yucky stuff from the pharmacy. While that wasn’t exactly traumatizing, and I don’t think I bear any scars, she said I was mad and her for a while and brought up the “spicy stuff” for years after (I do kinda remember that). We’ve kind of been treating Joey’s habit like any other habit and when we see him sucking it other than bed time, we (sometimes) just ask him to stop and praise him when he does. Maybe that’ll work. We’ll see…

Okay… I have several other things I’m hoping to chronicle here (museum with friends, camping, Fossil Rim adventure, some daily stuff), but I gotta get off for now. There’s only so long you can procrastinate and call it productive(ish).



Randomly once more

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 10:35 am

If you keep up with this blog at all (I’m talking to both of you… ahh, wait… I see there’s just one here now. Thanks for your support Mom! Love you), you’re already aware that this space is for me to put down… whatever. There are soapboxes and memories, recipes and me telling people what to do suggestions. Being an extrovert, things seem better shared. Everything is better with a friend. So this blog space is sort of a two-fer. I get a place that I can’t lose to put down things I care about AND I get to pretend I’m sharing thoughts with people who care enough to look here in my corner of the cyber world.

One thing it isn’t: a priority. There’s a lot going on over here and, honestly, I’m in over my head. You know those juggling guys who start with three balls then add a fourth, fifth, sixth… until finally all the balls come tumbling down. That’s me. The balls haven’t fallen yet… but I think I’ve learned to stop adding balls. That’s progress, right?

This next week I’ll be away from my family for an entire week. It’s the longest I’m ever really gone, but it is an annual trip. This will be my fourth time to participate in the Future Teachers Training Camp. It’s a ton of fun, lots of seriousness, little sleep and loads of Bible. I love it because it’s one of the few things I do where I can see actual progress, actual fruit. The girls who are repeats from years before will be different. And in a positive direction, most likely. They wouldn’t be at a camp for future bible class and ladies’ day teachers if they were changing too far in a negative direction. I love to see their faith growing and I love to see that they actually care about God’s word, His church and each other. So I’m excitedly looking forward to my week.

And I love that I don’t have to be concerned about my boys. They’re in great hands with Jeremy. Usually my mother-in-law has come down to help with the boys, but she won’t be able to make it this year. Nevertheless, I have full confidence that my boys will be well cared for, eat real meals and have a lot of fun too. It used to be that I’d come home from this or another trip and the house would actually be cleaner than I left it, but with five littles, I don’t see that happen much anymore. Sometimes it happens though (it did last week), and I’m always in awe. I have a great man and he’s training my sons to be great men. Men who love God and mankind. Men who care in an active way. Men who know how to enjoy life to the fullest (John 10:10). Men who love bacon, swords and water fights of all varieties.

It’s a good life, and as one of my boys says, God blessed us hard.

Here’s a Fourth of July conversation with Jaden, put down here for preservation’s sake…
Jaden to Isaac: Tomorrow is the day we celebrate rockets and fireworks!
Me: well, we celebrate with them, but we’re actually celebrating… what?
Jaden: Hmm… … … Independence!
Me: That’s right. Independence from…?
Jaden: God!
Me: What?! What do you mean?
Jaden: God! Independence from God! God’s the one who gave us independence!


The Main Attraction April 11, 2013

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 1:03 pm

“Ugh, Buddy! I’m trying to get STUFF done… and you’re being a distraction!”


He looked up at me and grinned. Big grin. Little baby teeth poking up grin. Excited for Mommy to be paying attention grin.


And it hit me…


“I’m sorry, Buddy. You’re not a distraction. You’re the main attraction.”


It’s easy to forget isn’t it?