VERSE OF THE MONTH: October 2017

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I chose this verse for a couple of different reasons. One being its popularity. Folks deeply devoted or barely acquainted with Christ can more than likely prattle this off as one of the verses they have memorized. I also wanted to highlight it because there is power in it, and it has brought me much encouragement and strength these last few weeks.

I will not lie, last month was hellacious for me. Finding the right combination of medications for me has proved to be beyond taxing, and I’ve clung tightly to the Word of God during this time. I’ve constantly come back to Philippians 4 as a whole, prayed it – declared it over myself because I have had days where I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I would stand still in my bedroom, large chunks of times would pass. When my husband would come in, I would just weep because I couldn’t get ready for the day. I was consumed by fear and brought low by the unbalanced chemicals in my brain.

Through prayer and a medication change, I’m doing much better. This month has a bright start, but I want to remember that no matter the challenge, Christ will give me strength.

I pray that you will find strength in the challenges that face you this month.

Happy October!

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Moving Thoughts as Heavy as Pianos

Have you ever moved a piano?

I do every morning.

My wallet was stolen a few months ago by a couple of creepy thugs, and I quickly became paranoid that they would take the information found on my license and come to our house and break in. Because of this new found paranoia, our Wurlitzer spinet gets pushed in front of our front door every night (Do not talk to me about fire hazards), and I assume the right position and push it back to its rightful place in the morning on my way out for work.

When I first started moving this large and dreadfully heavy instrument, I struggled to get it to budge. However, with time, I have learned where and how to plant my feet, which position my hips need to be in to assist with the push, and just how much weight I need to throw forward in order to get it to move.

This is my every morning, but it won’t always be this way. My paranoia will fade. I will be satisfied with the alarms we have on the door as well as the windows. However, until then, I must push.

This is where I am at with my mental health. In my mind, I have made no progress these last several months. My depression is OK, but my anxiety is heavy and hard to maneuver. I have been crying a lot, and I feel like I’m unsteady most of the day. I find it difficult to complete small tasks, but I keep saying to myself:

“Just push through.”

This thought of encouragement doesn’t make the task that I am facing any smaller or lighter, but it readjusts my posture for how I am going to face it.

While I feel I’ve made no progress because I still feel pretty awful, I have to remind myself that seven years ago, I refused to go to a doctor for help, I was reluctant to see a counselor, the idea of medication was offensive, I was having panic attacks almost daily, and I was painfully suicidal.

Now, I have more of a vocabulary to use to describe my symptoms, I see a psyche practitioner monthly, I’ve started counseling, I make a lot of my own phone calls instead of waiting for my husband to do them, I can often walk and talk myself out of a panic attack, I know when my depression is heading to a dark and bad place and unashamedly cry out for help.

I’ve learned a better posture for pushing against the heaviness of Bipolar 2 Disorder, and even though the heaviness of it hasn’t changed, I can push through it a little easier. It’s just taken practice. I won’t always have to repeat this small mantra in my head, but it is a tool that I’ll carry for when the need arises.

Just. Push. Through.

VERSE OF THE MONTH: AUGUST 2017

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This month’s verse is 1 Corinthians 10:31. I chose this verse because this month I feel like the Lord is calling me to make some lifestyle changes to enhance my journey toward healing. While there are many things that I need to adjust, the one I am starting with is exercise.

I know that exercise can help with depression, and it did to a degree for me in the past when I was an athlete. However, since having my second child, I’ve allowed myself to become physically unfit; and it has taken its toll on my mind, body, and spirit.

Since this is the first change I feel like the Lord is wanting me to address, I have challenged myself to workout for at least 20 minutes every day this month. It’s going to be difficult for me, but it needs to be done. God has given me a healthy body, and I need to tend to and cultivate it so that I can better serve Him.

I hope you have a happy, healthy August!

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VERSE OF THE MONTH: JUNE 2017

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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!

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To Those Who’ve Supported Me and Shared Their Journey With Me: This is For You.

Thank You​​​​
I’m not a big fan of vlogs (sorry, vloggers), and this is because I communicate best through my keyboard.

However, some things cannot be conveyed through written words. Therefore, I wanted to say a big thank you (be sure to click on the link) to those of you who’ve read my journey, more importantly, shared pieces of your journey with me.

I’ve been incredibly humbled and honored more than I can ever express.

Love you all! 

The Wreckage: Picking Up the Pieces Left By PTSD

I literally feel like my brain was totaled along with my car that day.

PTSD.

Turning onto the interstate for the 1,000th time since I started driving, a blaring noise came from behind.

Slowly, I watched as my friend’s body was thrown up against the side of her door similar to a doll being thrown against a wall as my car was spun to the other side of the road.

Looking behind me, I saw the trunk of my car almost completely in my backseat.

My door was jarred, so I had to climb out of my friend’s door. Neither of us was bleeding. No bones were broken.

However, as soon as my feet hit the ground, rage rose through my ankles to the top of my head. I’m told that I yelled all sorts of nasty things at the girl who hit us.

Her fender barely had a dent.

She got out for a second to retrieve her baby from the backseat.

That same rage rose through my body, erupting with a hateful fury because I couldn’t believe she had driven so poorly with her child in the backseat.

My mom was only a few minutes away, so she came down the hill to meet us.

Quivering, I could neither control my body nor my mouth.

I don’t remember talking to the police, but I do remember refusing a transit to the hospital because I could walk even with trembling legs.

Later that afternoon, my friend and I began to feel the pain from the accident. We couldn’t turn our necks. We had difficulty holding our arms out and gripping things. My entire spine felt like it had been snapped like a whip.

A neck X-ray and some Oxycodone later, we were sent home with nothing more than pain medication.

We were lucky.

Some people don’t survive having their car totaled.

I got a great settlement, and received several thousands of dollars worth of chiropractic care since my spine was slightly curved in more places than one.

Although I had a lot of pain in my neck and back, I got stronger each week.

I moved away for school, taking a summer job before the semester began. I had trouble standing on my feet all day, and noticed that I was becoming obviously irritable with people. I was convinced it was because of my great hatred of retail.

Night time would come, and sleep evaded me.

My mom gave me some St. John’s Wort and melatonin. These things helped a little, but my depression and insomnia became worse. These things, however, weren’t as bad as my anxiety.

I couldn’t ride in a car with someone without coming close to a panic attack. No one stopped fast enough, drove slow enough, turned carefully enough – no one was as good of a driver as I was.

When I drove by myself, I was a constant ball of nerves. Sweat would bead up on my forehead as well as my palms. I was jumpy and hyper-aware of my surroundings.

Worst of all was the rage.

Most people experience road rage from time to time, but I wanted to hunt down any person that drove in a way that was unsatisfactory to my judgement. I wanted to rip them out of their car and wring their necks.

My heart rate was constantly elevated while in traffic, and I broke down, shivering and in tears more than one time upon arriving at home.

I started at the state university that fall. I’ve mentioned that my depression plummeted that first semester along with my grades. I now know that my PTSD was mostly to blame.

PTSD.

Anytime I’ve talked to a counselor or any mental health professional, I’ve told them about my wreck and would say: “Something in my brain literally shifted, and it’s never gotten better.”

I literally feel like my brain was totaled along with my car that day.

PTSD.

I’m still not the same. That wreck was the straw that broke my already fragmented mind unleashing years of pain, years of unprocessed grief, years of denial.

It broke my brain.

PTSD.

Refusing to acknowledge it as such for years, I didn’t want to seem disrespectful to my friends in the military, my friends who were rape survivors, those who were in a wreck that seriously injured them.

It wasn’t until I was talking to a girl who told me about a similar situation that was nearly identical to mine. Her doctor prescribed her anti-depressants and a counselor because he said that she had PTSD. A light clicked for me, and I told my counselor about it, and she agreed.

Something in my brain snapped that day, and it’s been 9 years. I can ride in a car with people. I don’t tell my husband how to drive every time we go somewhere. I don’t yell and scream at crappy drivers, at least while my kids are in the car. I don’t get really nervous driving in heavy traffic.

I still want to throat punch really bad drivers, but I don’t wish death upon them.

The thing that worked the best for me was time.

I still have a staunch fear that I’m going to get a phone call saying that someone I love has been killed in a car crash. I also worry from time to time if I’m going to get in a really bad wreck again.

Any time someone comes to a quick rolling stop at a stop sign, I jump.

 

When I started counseling, I would always say: “I had this problem, but I know other people have had it worse than me.”

That’s a mentality most of us have been taught, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t be grateful for things; but it’s actually not a good way to view your problems.

What you are having trouble processing is real to you, just like what someone else is having to process. Do not feel bad for feeling the way you do and wanting to seek out healing. You are not alone, and your issues matter.

One good thing that has come out of this is that I am acutely aware of my periphery, cars in the distance – things like that. My senses have been sharpened by it. This has helped me more than once. Once when there was a pretty doe who ran out in front of me, I didn’t hit her because I saw her seconds before she leapt .

Had I not had this experience, I would have easily plowed through that animal.

Constantly, scenarios flash through my head, and I consider what I would do. I like to think that I am prepared.

Facing my fears helped to tame my anxiety and traumatic thoughts to subside.

PTSD is a big deal, and I believe that many of you probably have it or have had it but do not know. Think about it. Process it. ASK FOR HELP.

Your experience matters because it is your unique situation to deal with. Consider it, and take action. It is something that you can grow from.

Until next time friend,

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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,

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