Ok Ok….I know I’m bad at keeping up with this…….

I know, I know. It’s been over 2 weeks (almost 3) since I wrote last……I have thought about it a lot, just haven’t had the time to actually sit and write something. So here we are.

The last 3 weeks have been busy. Between work, family, church, and more work, I haven’t had the opportunity to let you all know how things were going. Let’s start with work…… I work for a non-profit organization that helps to provide resources and end stigma towards mental illness. It’s called NAMI…..National Alliance on Mental Illness. I work as a peer specialist. So what that means is that I have a diagnosis of my own, but I have been stable for over a year and I have been trained to help mentor other’s in their recovery. That’s the basic definition of my job. I meet with clients on a one on one basis and help them set recovery goals, talk about their struggles and help to give them hope that it is possible to come out of the hard times. I’m not a therapist, but like I said, a mentor. Well, one of my clients let’s just say has been VERY open with me about some very personal things……to the point where it was making me really uncomfortable, I had to set boundaries, and then those boundaries weren’t respected. I met with her for the last 4 weeks, and this past week I had to tell her I wouldn’t be able to meet with her any longer because she wasn’t respecting boundaries and so forth. She will be meeting with a different peer specialist from this point on. It was really hard for me to set the boundaries, harder than I expected it to be, but it reminded me of how far I have come myself, because it wasn’t that long ago that I was in a place where I didn’t set boundaries at all, I didn’t have enough respect for myself to do so. I’ve come a long way from where I was, and I can honestly say I’m proud of where I gotten to.

At NAMI I don’t just meet with individuals on a one on on basis, but I also work in what’s called the Living Room. It’s an ER alternative for individuals who are experiencing heightened symptoms, or are near crisis. It’s a place to help reduce the use of Emergency Rooms for non-safety threatening mental health crisis. I work in the Living Room 18 hours a week. I really am enjoying it, and working with/ helping other people who I know are feeling like I once did. I also do public speaking for NAMI. I go to hospitals, schools, police trainings, and churches and share my story of living with a mental illness and gaining recovery, and I share resources provided by NAMI and others in the community for individuals and families affected by mental illness. I truly can say what I’m doing is making a difference…….and I don’t say that in a cocky way, but in a humble way, because I only know it is true because of people coming up to me telling me it affected them, or helped them. It’s an amazing job that I wouldn’t give up for the world.

I say I wouldn’t give up this job for the world……all while over the last 3 weeks I have had a couple break downs over the fact that I am 30 years old, living at home with my parents, and only working 18-25 hours a week, unable to support myself to live on my own. I feel like I should be so much further along in my life…..I compare myself to others my age and I feel so inadequate. I understand I have been through a lot more than most my age, I deal with a mental illness, and I am working towards a full time job, but it’s so hard sometimes not to look at the world around me and feel so far behind. I have had a full time job before, but the stress of it got to me so bad that my symptoms came back full force and it caused me to relapse and end up back in the hospital. This is why I am working part time at the moment, so as to slowly add hours on to eventually get to full time, just I have to do it slowly so as to not evoke the symptoms and a relapse. I want to take my time to make sure I am staying healthy throughout the process. It doesn’t make it any easier, in fact I sometimes feel like I’ll never get to where I want to be in life, where I feel I should be. I just have to keep reminding myself that I need to trust God to guide me to where He needs and wants me to be.

Speaking of God, the new church I have been going to has been going really well. I have been going every Sunday, and I even joined an adult bible study (not sure I mentioned that in an earlier post or not). I go to the bible study, which is sorta like adult Sunday school, during the time of the early service (8:45-10am) then I go from there to the next service which is at 10:15. I have really been enjoying the worship, fellowship, and just the community around me. I am starting to get to know people more and feel more relaxed in my surroundings, and I can honestly say it has been refreshing in the sense that I look forward to going each week, I can sense God in the environment and worship, and I just really feel welcome and like I belong there. I feel like it’s a place I can go when I am doing well, and when I am not, that I won’t be judged for what’s going on inside but instead I will be surrounded by those who will help to lift me up.

I also had my 30th birthday since the last time I posted. It was…..let’s just say…..not what I expected. I’ll post a different post just on that a little later……. I’m not going to leave you hanging…..I promise….I just need to go for now. I hope you all are doing well and have a great day.

 

Feeling Welcome

Sorry it’s been a little while since my last post…..in case anyone is actually reading this……

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been trying out a new church. Well, I have really been enjoying it and liking it, and last week I went to the adult bible study group for the first time. I went again today, and I already find I am being welcomed in by everyone. Last week I had just about everyone introduce themselves to me and then this week people were coming up to me wanting to talk; asking me what brought me to this church, how was I, and just generally wanting to get to know me. I haven’t felt this welcome anywhere outside of NAMI for as long as I can remember. Well, every week they have everyone at each table talk with each other about prayer requests and just how the week is going before they get started with the lesson. Today, I talked to the people at my table about why I came to the Compass Church …..I told them I had a mental illness. I told them that I wasn’t feeling accepted at my old church for a long time because of the illness and what people thought about mental illness in general. I told them thank you for being as welcoming as they have been because I had been looking for a community of believers that I felt would also be non-judgmental of me just because I told them I had a mental illness. I wanted to be at a church where I was seen first…..not my diagnosis. I know it has only been 2 weeks at this bible study, but I felt this pull to let them in and share what I did. I felt like everyone at that table still wanted to get to know me, that next week people will still welcome me and want to talk to me. I truly am so grateful for this, I haven’t felt this way in a long time. Feeling welcome is something that I want to make sure I pass along…..meaning, I want to make sure that no matter where I am or who I am with people around me will know I welcome them, they aren’t outcasts, and they belong. I can do this with a simple smile, or introducing myself, or merely asking someone how their day has been…….and genuinely listen to their response…….let them know it’s ok to respond honestly. Unfortunately, feeling welcome is not a trait of all churches. I mean, sure, some people will feel welcome maybe because they have grown up in the church or whatever, but it’s hard to find a church where you can walk in as a brand new person…..never been there, don’t really know anyone or anything about the church in general…..or at least not anything more than what you learned on their website, and feel a sense of belonging. This church, I walked in for the first time and had more than one person come up to me to say hello, ask me my name, and tell me they were glad to have me there. Then, I went to the bible study and felt even more welcome, like I wasn’t just being recognized because I was new, but because people wanted to know me.

I thank God for putting this sense of longing for a faith community on my heart. I know I am in the right place, and I can feel that this is going to be a great chance for growth, both in my faith life, but also my social life, and emotional life. God sure does know what He’s doing……