“Dear younger me It’s not your fault You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross” -MercyMe

So it’s been a few weeks since I was able to sit down and actually write out everything that was going on, and give you all an update. So here we are, I have some time, and I want to fill you all in on my life. (I like how I write this as if so many people are actually reading this blog…..when in reality there really aren’t that many that I know of haha) This post may be a bit less organized than normal…..I just have a few different things to tell you about and they don’t all really flow together.

Anyways, the last month or so has been a bit rough. My therapist was out of the office for close to 8 weeks because she had some surgery and things weren’t healing as they should …… blah blah blah……yes, I was worried about her, but I really don’t need to know the details …..I just wanted her back to have that constant in my life where I knew I could go, let it all out, cry if I needed and feel ok when I left. Selfish? Possibly, but that IS why I go to see her. Do I consider her a friend in many ways? definitely, but first and foremost she is my therapist, and it just is. It was hard having her gone. We have over the last few months started diving into the whole topic of the sexual abuse by my uncle when I was little, and we had just hit some big points when she told me she was going to be gone for 4 weeks due to surgery…….which like I said, ended up being 8 weeks because of complications. I felt completely lost, I felt like I was left hanging on the ledge waiting to fall off and trying desperately to hang on by myself. I have a great friend who I know I can talk to about anything, and I trust her with my life, but this topic, well, it’s taken me almost 5 years with this therapist to even START to bring it up and work on it. It’s nothing against my friend, it’s just I’m not ready to just talk to anyone about what happened and how it makes me feel. I hope that makes sense. Anyhow, while my therapist was gone I went and saw my psychiatrist. I told her about my therapist being gone and all that, and she gave me a PRN prescription for Ativan, an anti-anxiety medication I have only taken one time in the past. I have tried it a few times, and let me tell you, I am so glad I have it and do not have to just keep trudging through high anxiety on my own. I don’t over use it. In fact, when my therapist did come back and I told her I had gotten it, she told me she was more worried about me NOT using it when I really should than me abusing it.

My therapist came back 2 weeks ago. It was a good session, but then I was going out of town the following week so I would miss our appointment. So I saw her again yesterday, we started back into the sexual abuse stuff. Then, at the end she tells me she won’t be in next week and we will not have an appointment until the following week. It’s just so screwed up right now, and I hate it. I don’t know why I put up with this……….actually I do. I put up with it because I have finally found a therapist that when we talk she doesn’t make me feel like I’m crazy, but she listens to me and says things like “It’s ok you feel that way, it’s not wrong to feel the way you do” or she’ll say things like “I’d feel the same way if that happened to me” or “you can’t do this by yourself, and you shouldn’t have to. That’s why I am here, it’s my job” and she lets me know I can do this, she encourages me, she treats me like a normal person. She understands, and she doesn’t just see me 1x a week and then forget about me throughout the week until our next appointment.

I was in Nashville with my dad last week, that’s why I had to miss our appointment. Nashville was really fun. Going to the Johnny Cash Museum, the Grand Ole Opry, The Riverboat Cruise, seeing some old friends, and just being with dad. Dad is a huge support for me, he is not only my dad, he’s my friend. He just gets me. We joke with each other and have fun, but know when the other needs us to be serious too and we support each other. This time with dad was one I will treasure forever. He’s a special guy, and he is the best dad one could ever ask for.

Last night was the Spring benefit for the organization I work for. It was alright. I mean, I’m not, and have never really been the dress up and go to fancy events type person. I was there most of the day setting up and all that and then got back early to help welcome guests and register people for the auction and everything. It was a really beautiful event, and the people who worked their asses off to get this all organized and set up deserve a long vacation and a raise for sure. There were close to 300 people there and over 100 items between the live and silent auctions. It was a good fundraiser for sure. I was really happy my best friend was there and we sat next to each other making our little comments and faces at each other and just had a good time. Overall it was good, long, but good.

So something else I wanted to bring up was the fact that the last 2 weeks when I was out of town I missed church. No big deal right? Well, I didn’t think it would be noticed I wasn’t there, so I didn’t let anyone in my adult Sunday School class I’d be gone. Well, last week while in Nashville, and the week before while in Wisconsin, I received text messages from people in my class saying things like “We miss you in class today” or “We hope all is well and you’re missing class for a fun reason!” It just felt so good to be noticed, to be thought of.

Easter Means You Can Be Free

“In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” – 1 Peter 1:3

So tomorrow is Easter, and it’s got me thinking about my faith, my life, my situation, and everything to that extent. I’ve been thinking about a dear friend who I know is struggling, and I want so badly to help. I’ve been praying for her every hour on the hour, and asking God to just be close to her, love on her, and show her grace and give her mind the peace she deserves. I know she’s going to read this blog, and I’m ok with that. I tell her whenever I have a new post. Honestly, she’s the only person who knows me who knows I have this blog and who I let read it. She is an amazing person, coworker, and friend. She gets it, understands when I say I just don’t feel good today, or whatever. I hope I am at least half of the friend to her as she is to me. ….. Anyway……my point is this. Jesus died on the cross, for us, all of us. He will rise again tomorrow and He will reign over the earth from heaven and no matter what we do He will always love us and protect us. Easter is the time of year we especially remember these things. I realize every year right around this time, just how small my life situation is compared to what Jesus’s was and what He did for me. He didn’t go to therapy, or ask for others to help him fix things, no, He took on what was going on onto His shoulders and told the people to come to Him with their problems, that He would carry their burdens for them. Wow……how amazing is that? How amazing is it that we have God to rely on always? That we can at any time call on Him and He will take our burdens and carry them for us? I know I can never be this for anyone, but I do know God gave me the ability to listen to others, to my friends, family, and even strangers, and to in a way take their burdens but not carry them because I can help give them to God by praying for these people. Prayer is such an important thing. Prayer isn’t just a complaining session (though it can be at times, trust me I know) but rather prayer is a conversation with God about what’s going on, not only the bad but the good and praises too. This is why I have been praying for my friend specifically lately, because I want to help her to the best of my ability, but I know my abilities are not as great as Gods abilities and I know He can hold her in His arms and help her to see she isn’t alone, she has a purpose, she is a good mom, friend, wife, and human in general. I know He loves His children so so much, this was proven when He went to the cross for us all. Easter is a time where we as humans, sinners, can be free of it all ……all our burdens and fears and hurts and sorrows, but it’s also the time we become free of our sins, and we become His. We ARE His, He is our father, and what a great Father He is.

I believe, and have hope in Christ. I have this faith even with everything going on in my life, the mental health issues, the uncertainty, the pain, the anger and frustration, the depression, anxiety, nightmares, and everything else that comes along with living here on earth. I have hope in Christ, even on my most hopeless days, and I am so grateful for Him and the power of His word, and how He works through others here on earth to show me just where I stand. He shows me through the lives of others the abilities I have, the good things I have in my life, and He shows me at times my purpose…….even though I have a hard time believing it all the time, I trust He knows what He is doing and I cannot ask for more than that.

I love to look out the window and see all the trees budding, the flowers blooming, and the sun shining. How amazing it is that even the slightest breeze on my face is an image of God and His amazing love.

I hope you all have an amazing Easter, and if you aren’t a Christian or if you don’t celebrate Easter, I hope you have an amazing day and that you can stop for a moment and just look around you, notice the small things, and take it all in.

“When The Storm Is Raging, And My Hope Is Gone….”

The title of this post is part of the lyrics to the song “Eye of the storm” by Ryan Stevenson. This song, along with a couple others, has been really hitting home to me lately. I know my blog isn’t the most uplifting blog around, but it is one of the most honest blogs anyone will ever find. I write on this blog almost as if it is my journal. I write on here rather than in a journal because I truly feel like it is a release, I feel like I am being heard…….even though I have no idea who in the world is reading this. I have tried writing in a paper journal, and it works to an extent to get things out, but I don’t feel any closure from it because it’s like, ok now all my emotions are on the paper but now what? I get no feedback from a journal. I know people write blogs for all different reasons, I just wanted to let you all know why I write the way I do, and about the topics I do. I write this blog as my story.

Now to get to my post for today. The lyrics of this song and the few other songs I have clung to over the last couple of weeks have really been hitting home hard for me. I mentioned in a previous post that about a year ago I started going to a new church, after not going to church for a couple of years. The people at this new church are amazing. I have formed friendships I believe will last a long time. I have friends who I am not embarrassed to ask to pray for me, who I also pray for. My faith has grown tremendously, and I have a whole new support system. All this, while at the same time still every day battling depression and thoughts of self harm and suicide. Thoughts I know I won’t act upon, but they cause stress and anxiety all at the same time. I am struggling with my relationship with my mom too. She has a mental illness diagnosis also, and she is at a point in her recovery where she thinks therapy is just a place to go bitch about everything but then leave for week and not work on changing anything. She has this attitude that comes across as if she believes everyone else is wrong and should do everything for her. That the way she feels is everyone else’s fault and they are the ones who need to make changes not her. I know this place well, because I was once there in my own recovery. I, however, was able to see through therapy that basically this world doesn’t revolve around me and I need to work at getting better and my recovery just as hard, if not harder than everyone else around me. I learned my recovery process is not just a process for the one with the diagnosis, but the family too……the family members are there to help and support the individual, but they too need support as the process happens. My mom, because of the depth of her depression, deals with memory loss, and it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating to tell her something and then 10 minutes later have her ask again……and then again later. I do get frustrated, and I get angry, then she gets upset because she feels bad she forgot but she also is frustrated with not remembering and she feels hopeless. Well, I get that, but what angers me the most is that she CAN fix it. The doctors have told her it’s due to her depression, but yet she’s not doing anything to move forward in getting better. Her therapist doesn’t challenge her to change or make changes, and her psychiatrist just gives meds and that’s it. Mom goes in and tells the doctor things are fine, when in reality they are NOT fine at all. She doesn’t remember things dad tells her to bring up at the doctor so she doesn’t and the vicious cycle keeps going.

I’m frustrated. It’s hard to watch my mom falling apart, and it’s hard to be around her at all. She get’s upset that I don’t want to do things with her or go places with her, or I’ll work all day and not want to do or go anywhere with her when I get home and she gets upset as if it’s something against her, not that I’m just tired from work and want to chill for a bit. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I am not at a point where I can move out of the house……trust me, if I could afford it, I would be out already. I am working on that in many ways. I am very aware that her behaviors and her depression are very triggering and influential of my own depression. I am daily trying to set a schedule and make sure I am taking care of myself first and setting boundaries and all that……but it’s still stressful, and hard…….I mean let’s face it…..Life isn’t perfect…..it’s hard.

I had a phone session with my therapist today because it’s been 3 weeks since I have seen her because she has been out of the office due to medical reasons. I won’t actually see her in a sit down session until at least a week from tomorrow……April 22. She is for sure the best therapist I have ever had….I have been working with her for over 5 years and I couldn’t ask for a better person to listen to me and have empathy towards me but yet challenge me and push me to continue to move forward and towards my goals in life and recovery in general. She doesn’t put up with any shit, she knows when I’m holding things back and she holds me accountable to things I say I am going to do. Today we talked just about what’s been happening over the last few weeks of her being gone. The last few weeks the depression has gotten worse. The nightmares have been peaking and my anxiety has not been good either. Overall, I feel like crap and I don’t know why. I honestly cannot give a reason for why the depression and everything has been getting worse. I can’t explain why I often just feel like crying but the tears just don’t want to come. I can’t give a reason for any of this. And that in itself is a frustrating thing. I just want to feel balanced. I want to wake up in the morning and be glad I woke up. I want to love myself, and see myself as others have described me to be. I want to help myself as much as I have helped others. I want to know what it is that people see in me and I want to believe what they have to say.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense or if anyone even read this to the end, but I wonder, does anyone else ever feel like  I do lately? Do any of you deal with similar things?

 

“Even though I love this crazy life Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride” – Mercy Me

Life isn’t always easy…..in fact….it’s never EASY…….Life brings challenges every day, but we get through. I wrote in my last post about my friend dying of brain cancer. He was only 35, had a 4 year old son, and a loving wife and parents and a sister who loved him dearly. Not to mention all the friends who loved him too. There were just about 400 people at his celebration of life service this past weekend. It was amazing. Amazing to see the impact he left on so many people, the love for him, and the amazing amount of joy in knowing he is with God, no longer in pain, and looking down from heaven on us each day. It doesn’t make losing him any easier, but it gives a sense of hope in knowing we will someday meet again. Life gives us challenges to teach us, to show us our capabilities, to encourage us to push harder, reach for the stars and to make sure we are not just going through the motions, but we are truly living, because surely, one day it’s going to be our last with someone we love and we don’t want to have any regrets. I wish life was a smoother ride sometimes, ok, a lot of times, but I have been learning that God has an amazing plan for each of us. A plan we don’t get to see in advance. A plan that helps us to become who we are, as a person, as a community, as human beings. God knows what tomorrow holds for us, and while there are times I wish I knew what all was going to happen tomorrow, I am realizing how lucky I am to not know what tomorrow brings. I couldn’t imagine knowing that tomorrow someone I love was going to die…..or that tomorrow would be the last day of my job or whatever. Could you imagine the effect that would have? In a way, it would let me say goodbye to the person, or prepare to lose my job, but at the same time, it would make me so anxious, I wouldn’t be able to fully live out today, so really, I’d be losing today and tomorrow, which is not what God wants for us at all. He wants us to be grateful for today, the people we have in our lives, and the opportunity each day brings. He doesn’t want us worrying about the future, or the past. No, He wants us to live for Him in the current moment, to love those around us as if it was our last day every day. What a wonderful plan He has prepared for us all.

I will miss my friend terribly. But I will also be able to say, “he is home, with Jesus, and he is no longer here on earth, but Jesus needed him more. He needed him in heaven to be able to look down on us all and take care of us each day from above”.

Life throws all kinds of challenges our way, death of loved ones, loss of jobs, bad weather, or car problems, or disappointments in everyday things, but He loves us more than we can even fathom, and He has the blueprints that we cannot see. We can be angry at God, He’s ok with that; but we must know deep in our hearts that our best interest is always on His mind. It gives me chills to think I am loved that much, I will never fulfill the standards of God, because I am a sinner, but I do not need to fulfill those standards to be loved and saved by Him. No, He fulfilled those standards for me, and for that, I am grateful.

 

When The World Is Completely Overwhelming And A Scary Place To be….But You Can’t Escape Into Your Own Mind Because It’s Just As Scary.

I wake up each day and I sit and I watch the morning news. I hear of people getting shot, by cops, by family, by gang members or people on the street……I hear of teachers striking and kids losing out on the education they deserve. I see homeless people on the streets with a cup for change, I see people walk or drive right past them, myself included, hesitant to even make eye contact. I sit at home and hear my parents arguing, my mom crying asking why she’s even here. I hear her tell me Illinois is not where she wants to be……even though her family is here. I see my dad working his but off every day to provide for myself and my mom, and to take care of his own parents who are aging and in poor health. I question what it is I’m doing in my life. Where am I headed in life, do I have a purpose, a future, and skills to lead me to a job later on that will not only meet my financial needs of living, but my emotional needs…..will it help me to reach my goals, my meaning.

All these things go on daily, and the violence and everything, I can’t just ignore, but somehow it seems as if I am. I seem to have become immune to people killing people, to people living on the streets, and arguing in the house. I, along with the rest of society, have seemed to become immune to it. We all seem to pass it all by, say things like “I can’t fix it, someone else will.” Or we try to ignore and escape it by going into our own heads, places of calm and relief. Heh…..yeah ……I wish I could say I could escape, even just for a moment, to my own little world in my head, where things were calmer, more purposeful and peaceful. I can’t say that though. Because when I try to escape to my head I find a world of anxiety, depression, and fear of the future and my well being. I start questioning where I am in life, where I think I should be and where I am compared to others my age. I start thinking about ways to make the anxiety settle down……self injury is always the first automatic thought, and then it’s hard to get rid of. I drive to work, and pass railroad tracks, on a good day I just ignore them, on rougher days I think about parking my car on the tracks, or walking on the tracks with headphones on so loud I wouldn’t hear a train coming. These are things that even though I am in recovery from mental illness, they show up daily. I use my internal energy to convince myself those aren’t things I want to do…..some days it’s easier to convince myself than others……and I am constantly trying to live with a purpose……but I’m not always so clear on what that purpose is.

Why would God put me on this earth during the time He has. Why am I living in a world where it seems things are crumbling around me, what is it God wants me to do? How am I, just one person, supposed to make a change? How do I change the world around me when just trying to change the world within me is so hard? I don’t know. I don’t know why, and I probably never will. All I know is This is the world I’m living in, and I need to live daily for Christ and if I do that, then His purpose becomes MY purpose, and that is truly a wonderful thing.

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……