Unsteady: Medicine Induced Akathisia

I’ve been on Latuda for nearly a month now. Starting at 20mg, I’ve worked my way up to 80mg once daily.

It’s a difficult medicine to take in my opinion. I can’t take it with dinner because it makes me too tired too early, so I have to take it later with a snack.

In order for it to work properly, you have to ingest 350 calories with it. I don’t really snack after dinner, so this has been difficult for me. It also makes me very nauseous, so that only adds to my displeasure of eating.

After upping my dosage to 80mg, I started to experience some symptoms that made me feel very unsteady. After eating my hearty snack, it would only take minutes before I felt like my nerves became electric.

All I wanted to do was wrap up in a blanket and watch New Girl or The Office before retiring to bed, but feeling as though I was covered in live wires made that impossible. I would have to shift my body back and forth because the restlessness was too uncomfortable.

I felt like my insides were knocked loose and were being pitifully fenced in by my skin.

This made sleep impossible, so I would have to take one or two Trazodone to just knock me out. I needed that relief, because this also played heavily on my anxiety and induced two panic attacks where my husband had to heavily blanket me with his body to keep me from hyperventilating.

Finally, I told my psyche practitioner about it, and she said that I needed to lower my dosage immediately because I was experiencing a side effect called akathisia. It’s not really a serious side effect most of the time, it’s just terribly uncomfortable.

Fortunately it’s subsided since I’ve lowered my dosage of Latuda. I just added Lithium to the mix, so stay tuned to see how that works.

Until next time friends,

img_1191-4

click map

Facebook. Twitter instagram Pinterest

You Are Challenged: Do the 30 Post Truth Challenge

Discovering and revealing truths about yourself is a liberating experience. That’s why I created this 30 Post Truth Challenge. To complete that challenge, you simply have to create 30 posts, exploring different aspects about yourself. You don’t have to deal with mental illness to do this, and you don’t have to publicly share your posts. This is an exercise for you. You’ll get to know yourself better, and you’ll become a healthier person because of it.

Rules:

Let me know that you’re going to participate.

Create 30 posts using whatever media you want to. You can start a blog, you can do 30 tweets, 30 Instagram photos with captions, 30 entries in a journal that held tight by a lock; you can email me (SplendorInEmbers@gmail.com), FB message me (Splendor in Embers). You cam share with the world, or just keep it between you and God. You can take as long as you want to – 30 days, 30 weeks; it’s all up to you.

Let me know when you complete it so I can send you you’re own digital badge of completion!

30 POST AWARD

You have been challenged, friends!

img_1191-4

VERSE OF THE MONTH: JUNE 2017

Isaiah 601

At the first of every month, I’m going to begin posting a verse of the month. For June, I’ve chosen Isaiah 60:1.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

June ushers in the second half of the year. The first half of my year has been shadowed with a dark cloud brought on by  a new mental health diagnosis, and the rocky path that comes with changing medications. I’ve found myself in places that were pitch black with hopelessness and despair.

In the previous chapter, Isaiah 59, there is a thick darkness that is described. Darkness is for slumber, worry, and fear. The light is for awakening, and when it comes upon us, we must respond by rising up.

The illuminating glory that comes from the Lord is what washes over you because He has caused His face to shine upon you for both your redemption and for others to see the salvation He has brought to you.

June is my month for rising up, and I believe it is for many of you as well. When the darkness creeps up on you, remind yourself that “your light has come,” and that light will always overcome the darkness.

Happy June, friends!

img_1191-5

Falling: from mania to depression

Native as the Mountain Laurel that brushes against my arms, my roots press through years of shed foliage, decaying fungi, and limitless ecosystems to burst through the rock below in search of a fresh water source to replenish and fight off a nasty blight that is trying to penetrate its way into the most fertile part of the soil that surrounds me.

Growing up in the mountains has given me an edge, a rigidity similar to the giant conifers that regally stand guard beneath the often craggy peaks in our range.

On more than one occasion I have had the strength and unquenchable desire to see the world below from the grand peaks towering over me.

I’ve ran several trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains over the years, and the trail I love the most winds up to the top of the highest peak this side of the Mississippi River.

The rocky steps are uncountable, and many parts are painfully steep, caked in mud, and difficult to climb. However, once you get to the top and your breath is taken, the struggle to the top fades as you see some clouds above and below.

The green mountains rolling into blue, while the nipping air kisses your face is a welcome reprieve from the sweat inducing, muscle straining, knee wrenching difficulty from the run up the trail.

Sitting in a rocky cleft, drinking luke warm water, I look down to see an unpigmented, long white feather. The vane was strong as was the hollow quill, and I couldn’t keep from picking it up.

Twirling it in my fingers, I ponder about which bird it may have come from, how people used feathers as embellishments on clothing, and how difficult it must’ve been to use a quill pen.

Holding it between my index finger and thumb in contrast against the mountains below me, an upward gust of wind came and ripped it away. I watch for a moment as it rolls upward into the sky then out of view.

This is my cue to leave as the winds are starting to pick up. I make it down several steep parts with a few more to go. Then it happens.

A root from an overly large oak grabs my Nike, uprooting me face over toes rolling and bouncing me down this last steep descent of this trail.

Crickets chirping in my right ear pushed me to open my eyes as the iron odor of blood oozing from my forehead makes its way down the bridge of my nose.

I try to move my head, but with every micrometer of movement, I could sense the cracks in my skull couldn’t withstand any extra pressure if it was going to hold itself together.

Out of the corner of my eye, falling from twilight sky peaking through tall canopy, as graceful as a dancer, spinning faster and faster and faster until it meets its final resting place on my fractured skull.

That white feather I adored on top of the mountain carried just enough weight on impact to issue the final blow to my cracked cranium, crumbling beneath its soft yet firm beauty.

Sunday’s finale.

____________________

The last two weeks of weaning off one of many failed anti-depressants threw me quickly above the clouds where views are clear and winds effortlessly allow me to soar.

Full blown mania is euphoric.

For those of you who aren’t quite familiar with mania, it’s kind of like having a tired, depressed, and neurotic friend put on a coat and suddenly become the life of the party with rapid conversations, severely increased energy, and impulses to do things that they would never do while in a normal state.

I would never describe myself as a high energy person. I would never describe myself as hyper. I would never describe myself as a fast talker. I would never have impulses to do things that could be potentially hurtful to myself and others…

Except for when I’m manic.

Now that I know what it is, I can call it out and map out my symptoms while realizing what is truly me and what is being caused by my manic state.

I texted my cousin with a funny meme, and the caption “What up, mania!” Because she knows. Gets it.

While the manic state feels great, I know enough about my biological patterns to know that there will be a steep, bloody fall.

After 20 hours of sleep over the course of nearly two weeks (you should get about 112 hours over this amount of time), a bout with a double ear infection/inflammation thing which I was given Prednisone by a very inexperienced and unknowing PA  (I just learned that Prednisone can cause strong symptoms of mania or other complications with people who are on anti-depressants,) and an ever present realization that I still haven’t found any sort of medication to make me feel better; caused the chirping, stridulating voices to circulate in my mind.

“The only things that you’re good at is messing things up.”

“You are ruining your family’s lives.”

“You literally have nothing to offer the world.”

“You are such a screw up, and everyone feels that way.”

“You’re the literal worst.”

Crash.

Scrape.

Land.

One problem as light as a feather caused those beliefs to shatter everything in my mind with a chaotic chorus singing louder by the second.

After making it home from church, I had already chewed down a couple of anti-anxiety meds, and was hoping to just collapse in bed.

My hands were shaking as those aforementioned beliefs echoed in unison. Trying  to open my rice pudding, when my husband came over to hug me and see if I was alright.

“I’m fine. I’m just sorry that I constantly screw up things for everyone. I’m just tired of being a burden and a nuisance – a ruiner. “

Since my husband isn’t a cruel hearted human being, he told that what I was believing wasn’t true and yada yada yada.

The rage flew up inside of me as I came to the realization that I couldn’t think of one thing that I wasn’t destroying in some way or another.

Still struggling to open my rice pudding, the slight frustration from that and the overflowing self-hatred; I could no longer contain myself.

Stomping out of the kitchen, screaming, “I’m so sick of being such a screw up – for messing up EVERYTHING!!!” The rice pudding met the wall in our stairwell with the same force that carried my voice three houses down. I turned and grabbed my purse, swung open the front door nearly unhinging it.

I don’t know where I was going to go, or what I was going to do, but I was leaving.

No keys.

At this point my husband had come out, and I told him that I didn’t have my keys because they were still inside.

I got to the porch and he said that I wasn’t going anywhere. I cracked the door open enough to grab my keys, and turned with the determination to plow through him.

He’s got quite a few inches and pounds on me, but I put up a good fight. He wouldn’t let me get past him even though I was screaming something to the effect of “I’m leaving. I can’t be here anymore.” Oh, and was hitting him over and over again with my purse so he would let me go.

Finally he just picked me up and put me down on the couch where I just laid wailing because of the overflow of pain that was oozing out of me.

The worst part was seeing my kids, sitting at the table with their lunch in front of them, bawling almost as hard as I was.

I started gagging, and had to make it to the bathroom in case I was going to vomit. I laid on the bathroom floor repetitively saying “I’m sorry, babies. Mommy loves you.”

Finally finding the strength to get off the floor, I went to them, wrapped my arms around them and cried: “I’m so sorry. This is not your fault. Mommy loves you more than anything.”

I sobbed repetitively, as they looked down silently with disbelief and terror.

My husband blocking the front door, left me with the option to crawl upstairs. I made it to my bedroom floor where I buried my face deep into the carpet and wept for my children.

Getting mad at God, I sprang to my knees and screamed “Do you even hear me?”

Back on my face I kept saying “My kids don’t deserve this. Please let them forget this. Please don’t let them be screwed up because of me.

Please don’t let them remember me.

There it was.

I didn’t care if I ever got up off that floor and hoped I could just stop breathing. However, I most certainly didn’t want my children to have to have a lifetime of dealing with me and my instability.

My eyes cracked open to see my husband.

With shredded vocal cords, I muttered “Please just take the kids and leave. They can’t be around this.”

My mom whisked the kids away from the disaster, and I only remember my husband getting me in bed and out of the tangled, strangling clothing that were less like a tourniquet than they were a dirty cast pitifully holding my deteriorating body and soul together.

I apparently took some old sleep pills, and fell face over toes to sleep.

____________________

You don’t bounce back in a mere day after losing complete balance and bouncing down from rock to rock to finally rock bottom.

I think it’s only fitting that my 30th post in my 30 POST TRUTH CHALLENGE would be one wrought with pain and injury.

To be honest, I feel like I’m back to day one.

I’ve fallen.

Fallen forward.

Roots ripped and exposed to the cool air.

Fortunately, it’s difficult to completely remove every single root, no matter how tiny, from the ground they’ve broken through.

____________________

Thanks for seeing my journey. For the tears you’ve shed as you relate your own falling downs to mine. For sharing your bleeding hearts and bruised minds, and for allowing me to see that little shine of hope that for some has been buried in the sediment of years of pain and under a steady brook of tears and sweat.

Let’s keep going, shall we?

img_1191-2

Committed: My Stay in a Mental Health Facility

A nurse had me strip down to nothing. I was completely naked. Exposed.

Vulnerable.

you are not your illness

Trigger Warning: There is a bit of talk about suicidality in this post. If hearing about someone’s struggle with wanting to self-harm will trigger you, only read the last couple of paragraghs – or nothing at all.

After seven weeks of spiraling depression, I finally hit the bottom. Landing in a lightless pool of tears, I momentarily struggled to get to the surface, finally succumbing to the slow weightless gravity of the depths of that cold well.

Light started to glimmer on the stillness of the top.

A child’s sincere prayer was heard, and by the strength of the Almighty, I was brought out of the depths, and placed on the flourishing green grass surrounding that dank, stoney well.

I’ve fallen in that same well a few times before, each time being lifted out, not by my own strength, but by the strength placed in others by God Himself.

Two suicide attempts, countless hopeless hours wishing I could just drown, and one solid, peaceful plan to end my life; I finally decided to reach out for the right kind of help.

I was completely against being committed to a mental health facility for so long, but I had needed to be there more times than I have fingers.

After seven weeks of falling, crashing yet again into the same cold water, I cried out for the aid I truly needed.

Only sleeping two or three hours a night for two months has a horrific impact on your thinking.

I had had five good months. Five months of even moods, increased energy, and motivation.

Coming down from that high place made the fall even worse because I hadn’t had that many days without depression and anxiety in more than 10 years.

My focus became fuzzy. I would completely zone out at work. I began to forget things that were on my openly visible to-do list that I kept on my desk. Irritation stung more than ever before to the point I was having trouble being around people.

Finally, the exhaustion and inability to complete a thought caught up to me, and the cracking dam broke loose.

I picked up my kids from daycare with tears streaming down my face. I don’t cry in front of people, but they could not be stopped. Driving to a safe place, with my precious babies in the backseat, they were more than concerned as their mother wailed for relief.

My three almost four year old daughter said loudly from the backseat “Lord,  keep my mommy safe, and make her feel better.” That was the light that danced across the top of the deep.

My husband met me at this safe place. I had called my psychiatry office to talk to the doctor on call. I was hoping that it was my regular practitioner, but it wasn’t. The nurse on the other end said my husband had just called two minutes prior to me picking up my phone.

He’s the one who always makes the call for me because I’m either too upset or too ashamed.

This time I didn’t care. I needed help or I was not going to make it.

I kept telling my husband over and over,  “I need to go to the hospital. I need to go to the hospital.”

The doctor rang me back, and asked me a ton of questions.

Even though I told her that I was struggling with suicidality, she was most concerned with my sleeplessness. Most doctors try hard to keep their patients out of psyche wards because they can be brutally scary and often times unhelpful.

Ambien was prescribed, and I got a whopping three hours of sleep that night. I had a previously scheduled psyche appointment with my regular practitioner that week, so I was urged to vow to safety and make it to then.

Sitting in her office, she blatantly asked me if I was having self-harming thoughts. I learned a while ago to not lie about this.

“Yes.”

In the past, I had been prescribed either new or additional medications and placed under constant surveillance for about two weeks at home.

I was tired of putting my family in a situation where they had to baby sit me, so I said again: “I need to go to the hospital.”

“OK. I need you to not leave this office until your husband can come and take you. I’ll make the call to see when they can take you in.”

I was urged to choose a women’s facility close to my house that only housed eight beds. They could get me in the next morning. The nurse called me that night as I was waiting and asked me if I had a plan. (A plan for suicide that is)

After careful research, I had coldly calculated an incredibly detailed plan two years prior to this phone call. It’s the one I always go back to when I tip over into the dark, cold well of apathy.

I’ll never share it with anyone outside of a practitioner, so it isn’t outlined in this post at all, and never will be in any of my writing.

I will say that when I do hit the bottom, it is a very peaceful and satisfying process of thoughts because I feel like it would actually bring me relief.

Many say that suicide is selfish. It’s easy to be the judge when you’re on the outside and think you know everything.

While some people may want to commit suicide to throw blame, guilt, and revenge on those who cause them pain,  (Don’t get me started on my many, many thoughts about 13 Reasons Why), some people have the true belief that their existence is causing pain for those they love.

In the past, I blamed others for these thoughts as well as thinking the world would be a brighter place without my darkness. However, as I’ve aged, In those moments, my thoughts are not about what the world has done to me, it’s about what I’ve done to the world around me. Maybe it is slightly selfish in the fact that my thoughts centralize around me, but my intention is to better the lives of the ones I love the most.

“I’ve always felt like a burden to my family since I was a kid. I truly believe that my husband should’ve chose another wife who was full of joy and never would put him through the worry and hell that I’ve put him through. I believe that I will cause my kids more trauma throughout their life by being who I am than I would in ridding myself from their lives in one fell swoop while they are too young to really remember me. While I have great friends, none of them would be forever changed by my absence.”

These are the lies that swirl around the depths of my mind when I can’t see the light.

I can be greatly logical in my thinking, and after a few years of intermittent counseling, I can ground myself enough to know that when this happens, I must say something. Even if I can’t fully verbalize what it is I’m thinking, I can say to my husband “I’m not really OK,” and he knows that action needs to be taken.

This time, I was ready to take extreme action.

I packed my bag, kissed my husband goodbye at the locked door on the HOPE wing, and was shown to my room.

All of my personal belongings that I had packed were confiscated for inspection. No phone. No tablet. No contact with the outside world.

No strings, nothing with alcohol in it, no medications of any kind.

While I had my own private room, there was no shower curtain, no comfy bed dressings, and no sharp pencils.

After settling into my near empty room, I was submitted to a “skin check.”

A nurse had me strip down to nothing. I was completely naked. Exposed.

Vulnerable.

Every scar, bruise and discoloration were questioned and noted.

All of me was laid out before a stranger who didn’t trust me, yet wanted to help me.

Finally clothed and fetally curled up on my noisy bed, a different nurse peaked in and brought my lunch. I could eat in peace, but was urged to come out to the open room for dinner.

Dinner time came, and my clouded eyes stayed down as I sat down for my scrumptious hospital dinner (sarcasm for those who missed it). I didn’t know if the patients talked to one another, or if I was supposed to sit silently eating food off my plastic spork.

Around the table, the ladies started asking me what my name was and told me theirs. As usual, I didn’t feel like talking to strangers.

Group session was later on that night where we had to state positive things about ourselves, set positive goals for the night, and vow to safety.

Given my ineffective Ambien, I resigned to my bed for a mostly sleepless night. Surprisingly, I didn’t miss my phone at all. I missed having a clock to track my time.

The only clock was at the end of the hallway.

Each hour, I would peak my head out and see how much longer I had to stay in my room.

Each room had a door within a door that looked like something that would be down the through the looking glass in Alice in Wonderland. This trick door was cracked at night so the nurses could do their hourly checks without waking the “clients.”

I forgot that we weren’t referred to as patients.

The next day, I went through the group activities, sat through the clergy talk as he struggled to relate God’s word to our situation, and got to know the ladies a bit more.

During our group movement time, we banged on a drum to sound out our feelings to the group. Mine was “sad-mad.”

I had been there for over 24 hours and the psychiatrist hadn’t seen me. This infuriated me because I felt like they were discarding me and that I was unimportant. I was also sad because, ya know, depression.

We then went out into the hallway to throw around these foam balls while getting to know each other’s names. I really wanted to just sit still, but as we moved and giggled, I literally felt parts of my brain that had been inactive for a while, light up. It was a strange sensation.

My husband came for a visit, then it was dinner time and group session time all over again.

I did get to see the doctor after all, and was given a book and a new prescription which was supposed to help me sleep.

It didn’t, so I cracked open the book, and vigorously went through the first 50 pages completing the exercises along the way.

Having physical injuries in the past, I was no stranger to physical therapy. I finally came to the realization that my mind was in need of physical therapy if I was going to make strides toward healing.

Instead of taking it slow, I devoured the next 100 pages along with assignments and turned them into the doctor at the end of the day. I had told him the evening before that I wanted to go home as soon as possible. He just smiled and nodded, and I said, everyone says that, huh?”

“Yep.”

After turning in my assignments, he said “So, about going home early, I think we may be able to get you home on Monday. We have to get you some sleep first, though.”

I slept six hours that night, but not without getting to know the ladies a bit more.

Bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, extreme general anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, alcoholism – labels we all had prescribed to us.

However, I got to know them by their first names, careers, family situations, and personalities.

We joked around about being in a mental health facility – some being repeat offenders. We colored, talked about our medications, upcoming vacations, and favorite restaurants.

I got to peel back yet another layer of stigma that had been ingrained in me about mental illness, and see each woman as living, breathing human beings with real lives, real thoughts, and real struggles.

Being next door to the geriatric mental health wing, we could hear the screams and disruptions from patients fighting off delusions and hallucinations, and felt a little fear, but mostly sadness because we knew how real that person’s thoughts were to them.

We all formed a bit of a bond, unlike most patient client groups that grace the HOPE wing; at least that is what we were told.

We watched TV together, told funny stories about our lives, and encouraged each other through our darkest thoughts.

I tear up thinking about these women because I would probably never befriend them in my normal life, but in our little safe corner of the world, they each impacted my life because they made me realize that I’m not alone and not defined by my illness but rather a someone who has an illness.

I don’t go up to people and say: “I’m Fatima, and I’m Bipolar.”

I am not defined by an illness. You are not defined by an illness.

You are not cancer, you are not hyper-tension, you are not diabetes, you are not ADHD, you are not dyslexic -No. You may deal with these things, and God help you if you do, but you find your truth and you lay it out there. You find what and who you truly are and you own it -you declare it.

 I am Fatima. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and creatively old soul, and I’m training my crippled mind to grow stronger as I deal with a disease called Bipolar Disorder that often gives me symptoms of overwhelming sadness, irritable anxiety, and panic attacks as well as rarely giving me symptoms of high energy and impulsivity. 

Even if all of these titles are stripped from me, and I’m left with nothing else in this world, I can cling to this truth – The Truth. I am a daughter of the Most High. I am seen. I am heard. I am ultimately healed, even if I only see it in eternity. I am protected, redeemed, free – I AM LOVED.

While I still have two or three more posts to finish my 30 post truth challenge, I have found so much healing and support through this journey.

I’ve been humbled by the outpouring of messages and comments that have been shared with me, and I have seen each one even if I haven’t responded yet. Thank you for seeing my journey of truth, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing pieces of your journey with me. I’m grateful for your honesty, and impressed by your bravery.

May the God of all peace, wisdom, and understanding surround your heart today and each day moving forward.

I’ll bring the coffee next time.

Until we meet again my friends,

img_1191-1

The Problem with Unprocessed Grief part 3

It became a wound that never healed, and would often fester and overflow with infection causing me to have outbursts of deep depression and panic attacks. It caused me to lose all sense of direction in my life.

I strive to conclude my thoughts on unprocessed grief tonight.

I’ve taken you through the morning and following days of my father’s death through my eyes.

I broke down after recalling my last words to my father.

I’ve recounted my vicious battle with anorexia and bulimia and my darkest depression through most of high school.

Tonight I wish to conclude this chapter on my thoughts about unprocessed grief.

Leaving you in my junior year of high school, starving for perfection; starving to fill the hole in my heart. Starving to feel the hole in my heart. I started my senior year with a new boyfriend.

He was nice, and to be honest, I fell in love with his family more than I did him. I had known them for several years already, but I got to get the inside scoop on how they interacted.

I hadn’t been a part of a nuclear family since I was five years old, so naturally, I didn’t know how they worked. I found them fascinating like a strange life form. It was something that I liked to step back and poke with a stick.

Having a mom and dad who loved each other and were on the same team baffled me. The dynamics between siblings was a whole new world to me. (Truthfully, I still don’t get this one).

It was a nice change and learning experience for me. I was able to talk to this boyfriend unlike I could my last one. I began to process all that I had dealt with, and began to consider my grief.

Like most high school sweethearts, we moved on, and I began college. This was a new start for me with new people who didn’t know my past.

They say that college is where you truly find your tribe, and I wouldn’t say that was my experience at first, but I certainly found many friends and experiences in which brought me great joy.

I chose community college because I wasn’t ready to leave home, and the price was much more satisfactory. I stayed there far longer than most do, much longer than it is intended for.

I had no plan for my life.

When I was a child, my dad had bought me this human body anatomy set. It was similar to a puzzle, but it was small model of a human body with all of the plastic organs to assemble together.

See, I wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember.

My dad often found his copy of Grey’s Anatomy in my bedroom, because I loved to read about the human body. I even considered the Cambridge Student’s Programme for teenage students for early an early medical introduction.

When my father had his surgery at Duke, I enjoyed talking with the doctors and nurses, trying to glean as much information as I could.

However, when I started college, I decided I wanted to study law.

By the end of my first semester, I did not.

The next few semesters were met with confusion and low grades.

I took classes ranging for anatomy and physiology to dialects and voice for the stage. I didn’t have a guiding voice to give me advice or direction. No one to remind me what was always my true interest.

I started dating my now husband during our third year of college. His drive and ambition was inspiring, and I started to get myself together.

I once again resumed my headway toward a career in medicine, and committed to a pre-med major. I finally moved on from community college to a state university, and excelled in my bio and chem classes. Physics was the worst class I took out of nearly 200 credit hours that I took over the course of my college career.

About half way through my semester, my depression plummeted as well as my grades.

I started skipping classes and sleeping in late. I hadn’t found a sleep aid that kept me from my near nightly panic attacks.

Most nights, i muffled my sobs in my pillows so not to attract attention from my roommates.  Several times I would end up calling my now husband who would more often than not come over in the middle of the night and hold me until  my crying gave way to slumber. He would then sneak out before the sun to get ready for his job that started at sunrise.

The semester ended, and I was on academic probation with the potential of losing all financial aid.

Throughout all of this time, one thing remained the same; I led worship on a regular basis and thoroughly enjoyed music and singing. I met with an academic advisor at a local christian college to see if their worship arts program would be something I would be interested in.

Too expensive and adding too many semesters to my college career, I chose to take some music and theatre classes at the university that I was already at.

Reluctantly giving up on my medical dreams, I fell deeper in love with music and the theatre in general.

I found my tribe.

I decided to tailor my degree so that I would have music, dramatic performance and production, dance, stage design, and Christian religious studies. I even landed a paid worship internship at a large local church I had been attending.

With a few years of experience, and this type of education, I was setting myself up for a career in worship ministry.

While I was happy with all of that, and finished each semester on the Chancellor’s and Dean’s lists for receiving a 4.0, my depression and anxiety were off the rails.

I was completely miserable, and felt adrift.

Struggling greatly with suicidality, my future husband convinced me to finally reach out to a counselor.

I saw one at the university, and I cried like a baby when I told her that I just didn’t want to live anymore. She gave me the option to get into a facility, to which I naturally declined.

Having the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality, I decided that I could get my junk together on my own.

Fortunately, the church where I was interning at had a counseling center with a sliding scale on their prices.

There, the realization of my unprocessed grief surfaced.

I was angry with my dad. I was angry with my mom. Most of all, I was angry with myself.

Part of my depression was caused by my anger being turned inward. The other part was PTSD, but I’ll talk about that later.

The pain of losing of parent so young is something I could not process. For one, I had no help to do so. I couldn’t make sense of the pain because I never left a state of shock.

It became a wound that never healed, and would often fester and overflow with infection causing me to have outbursts of deep depression and panic attacks. It caused me to lose all sense of direction in my life.

It caused me to be afraid of commitment. I was sure that as soon as I gave myself fully to anything that I would have the rug pulled out from underneath  me, and I simply could not handle that. To this day, I still have issues with trying something new because I just know that something is going to go wrong. (It never does)

I regret giving up on medicine, and hope to God I one day get a chance to redeem myself. However, every time I learned more about the human body, every time I looked a slide of different cancer cells, saw their complexity, saw the intricate, surprising beauty; I saw my daddy.

I would think about seeing patients and inevitably see my father’s weak face, and I would run from it.

There are still levels of grief that I have yet to process.

Not having him there for my college graduation, my wedding, the birth of my children; these events, as joyous as they were, felt slightly incomplete.

Last year was the 14th anniversary of my father’s death. My grief overwhelmed me.

As I walked down the stairs at home and into the living area, I was hit with the realization that I had lived more of my life without him in it than I had with him in it.

That wound opened wide, and I mourned unlike anytime before. The rawness of his absence was greater than it was immediately following his death. My husband was at work, as was my mother, but I could not be alone. My dear mother-in-law came to keep me company because I couldn’t be left alone with that kind of pain that day.

I’m still processing my grief, and probably will until I meet him again in heaven. But I am processing it.

I am healing.

The problem with unprocessed grief is that it slowly infects your body, heart, and mind. It affects your decisions. It affects your relationships. I affects your world view, and perspective of God (if you believe in God).

Since losing my dad, I’ve lost a beloved aunt, and my dear grandparents who I cannot talk about without crying. But because of my experience with the grief from my father’s death, I’ve been able to work through the grief of losing those other great loves of my life.

Until tomorrow my friends,

img_1191-1

 

 

The Problem with Unprocessed Grief Part 2

I needed to be in a facility because I was slowly killing myself.

I began to share with you my experience with grief the other day, and had to stop. What was coming out was debris from an old, deeply scarred over wound that is in the deepest, darkest pocket of my heart.

I have always remembered that I told my dad that he was the best daddy in the whole world, but it had never dawned on me that those were the last words that I said to him while he was still living.

I mean, what a blessing. A gift, really.

Something beautiful was able to surface underneath that thick, calloused part of my heart.

I told you that someone told me to mourn in my own way in a previous post, and I thought that I did, and with flying colors.

I’ve always been one to seek out applause and approval, so naturally, I wanted to be the best mourner out there. I thought that looked like someone who didn’t cry, who carried on normally, and who didn’t make things weird around people.

Seriously, if you want to kill a moment or just be completely awkward just say “My dad is dead” nonchalantly as if it were just any other idle piece of conversation.

It’s not that I didn’t miss my dad, I just wouldn’t think about it. I shoved all the pain right back into that wound, and forced it shut by applying diversions that could weigh down my thoughts.

I became an incredible student. In middle school, I thought school was boring and spent most of my time doodling and daydreaming. However, once high school started, I was making all A’s (except a constant B in math because math sucks).

I stayed very busy learning and excelling at sports. I was in the Beta Club and on Student Council. I took photos and edited pages for the school yearbook. I sang, acted, and danced in all the performances that were offered to us.

I dated a really nice guy that I really shouldn’t have dated because I only started dating him because the one guy I liked was dating someone else. In the end, our relationship was just toxic. We were both good people who weren’t so great together.

When I was in 10th grade, I developed anorexia which flourished over that following summer, and I went into my junior year, tiny, tired, and in an incredibly deep depression.

In the midst of all the activities I was involved with, my paper thin body was pitifully hiding that scar tissue with all the grief and pain I had never faced. Anorexia eventually became friends with bulimia in the form of taking boxes of laxatives a day, and working out to the point my knees were over-extended and swollen.

I was someone who always felt the pressure to be put together at all times. Hair, make-up, clothes; those things were pressed on me by my dad. With that said, I would show up to school in my PJs, no make-up, no contacts, with a greasy,messy bun on top of my head. This was because I had jumped in bed at 3:45pm the afternoon before, stayed asleep until 10:00pm, got up to do my homework, and was asleep again by midnight. I would wake-up around 10 minutes before my first class started just so I could get as much sleep as possible.

I didn’t want to hang out with friends, and never really enjoyed it when I did. I just wanted to sleep. My irritability was through the roof. I didn’t care about myself, so I found it hard to really care about other people.

My eating disorder consumed my thoughts more than anything. I was so miserable inside that I thought if I could achieve a certain weight or size then I would be happy.

I can remember grabbing the my love-handles (I’d kill for those love-handles now) and squeezing and pulling on them so hard it brought blood to my skin.

I could eat whenever I wanted to. However, I distinctly remember telling my mom “I hate food.” Often she would see me picking at my plate and snap “Just eat that!” That instruction helped in the moment, but it never did in the long run.

I needed to be in a facility because I was slowly killing myself. But I don’t think anyone really saw it that way.

I read in books and articles that most eating disorders stem from control issues. I would read that and roll my eyes. I did NOT have control issues. I just wanted to be thin.

It wasn’t until recently that it occurred to me that it WAS a control issue, and that I was struggling to control the wound inside my heart that was festering with infection underneath all of that thick, scarred tissue.

At the time, I had friends confront me about my eating and my weight. I would often deny it as being anything. Eventually admitting that I had an eating disorder as if it was something to be proud of, as if it was the way to have a great life, as if it weren’t a sickness.

The couple of times I did cry out for help, it was met with silence then nothing. If you don’t confront something, it goes away, right?

W R O N G.

Not eating made my body susceptible to illness, and I don’t know if I had Mono or some other infection, but I kept a swollen throat, sore muscles, and over-whelming exhaustion for more than a year.

As much as I hated myself and everything else around me, I still finished my junior year with a 4.3 GPA and as MVP of my Cheerleading team.

Too bad I missed the award ceremony because I was sleeping.

Until tomorrow, friends

img_1191