Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Time to Mourn

It's hard to be ok. To smile and look the part when inside I'm crumbling. My anxiety took a hard hit this week. My mind has been frantically "rabbit-holing" all week. I hate November 18th. I thought I would have more peace or at least more acceptance this year, but it actually just sucked. It's an "anniversary" that haunts me and in its goulish voice it whispers lies that I'm too weary to negate. I've heard these lies for years and when I'm vulnerable they come crashing onto my shore, stealing away the peace I had. I could feel the episode (seizure is such a harsh word and not everyone agrees that that's what it should be called - so I'll say episode) building all week. The stress was written on my face. The increased depression effected my energy. The anxiety tried to escape as I relentlessly picked at my skin, fingers, and toes. What goes up must come down. The pressure was too much inside of my mind and body. Today it came down through multiple episodes. I hate the episodes. I hate being in my body but not being in control. And crying. And feeling scared. I feel so scared. I want it to end as soon as it begins but I have to let it run its course. There is no out. This IS the out. After I cried for a few minutes I decided to take my time in the episodes to pray. To pray for peace and calm. To pray for my body. To pray for my mind. And I pled with Heavenly Father to give me strength through Christ's Atonement to overcome this. Or to at least have the strength to carry this trial. I asked Him to give me a picture of me and Christ - something I could think of while my body is away. Into my mind came the scene of me and Christ on "My Path" - my long winding path that eventually leads home to heaven. The path rolled up and down over hills and disappeared in the distance - I couldn't see the destination, just the path. There on the right side of the road was me sitting, knees pulled to my chest, arms crossed over them, head buried in my arms, with my hair falling around my face and tears streaming from my eyes. I couldn't go on. I didn't want to go on. My Path looked much too long and difficult. So I sat. And there next to me was the Savior, left arm around my shoulders, knees bent and right arm resting on his knees, face looking off into the distance. He was there, offering his quiet understanding. He knows I'm tired. He knows I don't want to keep walking. And he understands that for this moment I'm not ready to move at all or be carried by him. I simply need to sit on "My Path" and mourn. I need to mourn the heartache from returning early from my mission 6 years ago; the disappointment from missing out on get-togethers with friends after having episodes; the fear that I'm damaged goods and no man will want to be with me or walk My Path with me; the anger over losing so much independence; the relentless thoughts that I won't make a difference in the world because I'm "sick;" the hurtful comments from doctors that I'm faking the episodes and that nothing's wrong with me; I need to mourn a loss of self - a loss of the idea of who I was, what I was going to become, how I was going to accomplish life. Everything is different. I'm different. Some days I can see the progress - I can see the good - I can see Her/Me through a loving-kind lense. And other days I want the me I grew up thinking I was going to be, back.

Monday, October 17, 2016


I see you.
I see you hurting.
I see the confusion in your creased forehead.
I feel your physical pain.
You are enjoying the floor more and more.
It does having a grounding effect.
Your plants are so lovely.
They don't all need names right now.
Just enjoy them.
Study them.
Watch them.
Tend to them.
It fills your bucket.
I know your body hurts.
I know the yeast infection is burning.
I know your not-really-fixed toe is throbbing.
And you are scared to death to go through the procedure an 8th time.
You let those tears flow.
You have a right to be sad.
You have a right to cry.
It doesn't make sense.
It just doesn't to you.
Life isn't fair - what a stupid phrase.
Hurry up and have babies so we can do something permanent.
She missed a chance to be compassionate.
She missed a chance to be understanding.
She missed a chance to comfort someone who is suffering.
It is her loss.
And one day she will look back and regret her thoughtless words.
This isn't what you wanted.
I know.
It hurts.
Reality hurts.
You can be willful.
It might be in your best interest to be willful right now.
Yes, you know God could heal you.
There is no doubt in your mind.
But, your gut tells you, he's going to let you suffer.
Not because he's mean or hates you, but because he needs you to.
You don't want to submit to his will.
You don't want to suffer.
I understand.
Because I am you.
Life is hard.
You can do hard things but you don't want to.
I get it.
You looked up and saw the moon.
Tears streamed down your face.
It is so confusing.
The body.
The mind.
Their connection.
And you feel trapped in a broken mind and body.
Will healing come?
But it might be a really long, long time before it does.
Yes, that is heartbreaking.
I hear you, body.
I hear you screaming for help.
But I don't have the tools to help you.
I'm trying.
But it's going to take time.
I wish you would be gentler on me while I learn.
If I had the knowledge and resources, I would fix you.
But it's so complicated.
No one wants to be a "medical mystery."
You want someone to look at you and go, "All these weird things make sense.
Because you have this."
And "this" would answer all your questions.
And heal all your pain.
And bring your mind back to a clear state.
You would be Whole.
Or as Whole as you can be in this fallen world.
And you'd take it.
And be grateful.
Because fresh in your memory would be the years of suffering.
The years of questions.
The years of tests.
The Years of Unknowns.
Can you see it?
Can you see the Unknowns as part of your past, not present?
For a moment.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

my roses

It just works out for some people, ya know?

They get the "fairy-tale" ending which seems perfect - is portrayed on facebook/instagram as perfect - and so I wind up thinking, "Geez, their life is perfect. My life sucks."

Part of me becomes angry - the other part jealous - but actually, it's sadness.

I've written about this before - and it's probably bordering on the "beating a dead horse" side of things - but my life is NOTHING like I imagined it would be.

I am mormon. I believe in the gospel teachings of my church - but I do not like/enjoy/believe many of the cultural aspects of my church. From super young - like 6 - I was taught that I would "grow up" - "get married" - "have kids" - and that was it. More details were added around 12 - I would "grow up" - "find a righteous man to marry in the temple" - and "have kids." 16 came with more details: "grow up" - "go to college" - "serve a mission if I wanted" - "come home and marry a man in the temple" - "have kids." And that's as far as it got me.

Well - most mormon kids go off to BYU in Utah. I thought that was what I was "supposed" to do, because that's what everyone else was doing. I got in to BYU in Utah and Idaho - but couldn't stop crying until I decided to go to UTD here in Richardson (GO COMETS!). Then I worked for a few months and decided to go on a mission. So I went - and came home sooner than anticipated because my mental health declined. After a few years at home, I moved out and was working. I wish now I had better appreciated the freedom of this time. It was not without it's problems, but I had so much of what I didn't even know I wanted. Then I became so depressed, I wanted to kill myself. And so I moved back home. I heard the term "boomerang-kids" used the other day and it broke my heart. Gosh, I don't want to be that. Looking from the outside in, I can see how it would be easy for someone to assume that's what I am. But there are so many more obstacles that have led me to being home. And as far as my love life goes, it could be compared to the Sahara - with tumble weeds and geckos.

So you see, nothing is like I thought it would be. Nothing is like I was told it would/should be. My path has been messy and ugly and hard.

And life changing.

I don't think the "me" before all of this knew her limits/needs/desires.

I have a mind of my own. I have skills that are mine. I am better able to cope with the shitty parts of life. I have a more realistic understanding of what life is.

Things got raw Tuesday and I had to dig in and use my skills. I left my darling sisters in Utah for teaching/schooling, Wednesday I attended the funeral of my sweet friend's brother - and because the emotional toll of all of this wasn't enough, my monthly visitor arrived Wednesday afternoon. Since the car wreck back in 2014, I have had terrible periods. This month has been no different. By Thursday I couldn't stop the pain or the insane amount of bleeding. I was miserable. I had been gone from work for 2 and 1/2 weeks and didn't feel like I could leave that night - so I stayed and endured pain, blood, nausea, and the puking urge. It was hell. I thought I was going to have an episode or legit pass out. My parents came and drove me home and I collapsed into bed. In my religion we can get blessings. I asked my dad to give me a blessing for the sick and afflicted. I could feel God's presence. I felt relief. And the words spoken were comforting.

One part in particular has stayed with me, "Rachel, not many people in this life suffer with their bodies the way you do. The purpose of this suffering is to bring you closer to your Father in Heaven. You will be healed. You will know the things you need to do to bring healing to your body."

God knows my suffering. It is to bring me to Him. *deep breath* Ok, I am willing to accept that. I am willing to suffer so that I may know God. This does not mean I will be happy or joyful through the process. But I will do it - with my best attitude. And my best will change from day to day.

As I was laying in bed trying to breathe through the pain, Dad asked me if there was anything he could do for me. I said, "Would you bring the flowers that are on my dresser over here to my nightstand?" He said it was an odd request but did it. Because often it's the little things that bring the most joy. Holding a sleeping baby. Standing in front of a fan on a hot day. Looking at roses.

My life is F A R from picture perfect. And every time I think I have a handle on things, something else pops up. But, that's life. Life was never meant to be easy - though I do enjoy the easier times - it was meant to be a place for learning, for growth.

And that's what I'm doing, everyday.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

as the sun goes away, i have more to give

One of my heroes is Kelly Rae Roberts. Gosh, it was after I had come home from my mission and I think before I had moved into my apartment - so roughly sometime in 2011 - I was hanging out with my dear friend, C, and as we walked out of a little store, this caught my eye:

I immediately went back in and bought it. It spoke to me. I think it was one of the first pieces that had ever spoken to me - something I connected with//believed. It has been in my home/room ever since.

She is fabulous! I love following her on Instagram because all of her posts are real and uplifting. She calls herself a "possibiltarian" - and I don't fully understand what that means to her, but to me it means things are possible! Life is possible! Dreams are possible! And I love that positivity. She is darling and I really enjoy being a part of her journey.

She is speaking at the Brave Girl Symposium this year (I am BEYOND bummed to not be going - because she is speaking and my FAVORITE author, Richard Paul Evans, is speaking too! Seriously bummed I'm not there...) and before she left she posted this question on Instagram:

Can we love our most agonizing and fearful life experiences?

Wow. What an incredible question. She is going to speak about this and answer the question - which I totally wish I could hear - but since I can't be there to hear her answer, I thought I'd answer it for myself.

Simply, yes.

If you had asked me this when I was 15 and starting college and scared to death/had daily crying jags before class/went with teal finger-tipped veins - I would've said no. Absolutely, no.

If you had asked me this when I was 18 and trying to decide which school to go to/what to major in/how to navigate my new school/trying to make friends - I would've said no. Really, no.

If you had asked me this when I was 20 and got a rejection letter for graduate school/had to quickly re-evaluate what the heck I was going to do/started working full-time - I would've said no. Just, no.

If you had asked me this when I was 21 and left for what I thought would be an 18 month mission/came home 6 months later/was having seizures - I would've said no. Ha, no.

If you had asked me this when I was on my way to inpatient (either time)/going through 6 months of testing to figure out what was "wrong"/going to weekly therapy and doing incredibly hard homework (for years and years and years) - I would've said no. HELL, NO.

These events were TOO agonizing - TOO fearful - for me to accept, let alone love.

But I have g r o w n so much this year. The skills I have been learning and practicing for 3 years is paying off as I do Prolonged Exposure Therapy and face the trauma. In the beginning, I hated the traumatic events. I was angry at them for causing me so much suffering. I didn't want to face them - I wanted to avoid them. The choice has always been mine - so really I could've continued to avoid them if I wanted. But it was time for healing. And healing has come from looking my demons in the eyes, studying them, learning about them, understanding them, and finally, letting them go so I could move forward.

At this time, I may not fully love each experience but I have compassion for them. I have increased compassion for myself. Compassion for the girl I once was who was frightened/alone and did her best to be true to herself with the limited skills she had.

And I believe compassion is the first step to love.

One day, I will look these experiences fully in the rear-view mirror and I will think, "Wow, I did it. I lived that. I survived that. I overcame that. And I am awesome for doing so."

Friends, I feel in my bones that that day is soon. (...which makes me really happy...)

I have made myself and a few friends "Personal Reassurance" shirts. I'm going to make more. And maybe one day sell them.! How cool would that be? This is my "possibiltarian" thinking - and it's because of the heroic examples of Kelly Rae and Brene Brown and the Brave Girl Club and HopeHealInspire that I believe I can be one of them - I can change my little part of the world. I can!


Monday, June 27, 2016

empty arms

man, i really had such a different picture for my life when i was younger. i thought at 18 - after weeks of crying to the lord asking what i should major in - that when the answer came back speech therapy, well, i thought my life was set. study undergrad speech for 2 years in texas. go to utah to get my master degree. date and find a spouse. get married. work and have kids. buy a home. that was it. that was the dream. oh how the path has changed. i didn't get into grad school in utah. i can count the number of dates i've had on one hand. i served a mission. my mental health took a turn for the worse and i had to get help - with serious intervention twice. i've gained weight. i do not have a spouse. i don't have children to rock to sleep or snuggle with. and sometimes, this last one breaks my heart. i'm currently going through a time when i just want to hold a baby. i want those snuggles and cuddles. i want the perfect trust that baby has in me to keep him/her safe in my arms. the baby smell brings tears to my eyes. like pretty much everything in life - having a baby is not all glamor all the time. but i long for those moments of peace, security, and calm, when that little one is in my arms, looking up at me, and loving me with all my insecurities, fat rolls, depression/anxiety, fear of failure, oh the list could go on. because that's not what he/she sees. i am more than that. and i feel pure love - god's love - radiating from these little ones. i want to be in their presence all the time. mercifully god has placed good friends in my life who are having babies and they let me come over and snuggle. it's a lonely feeling though when i walk back to my car, arms empty. one baby in particular has been my saving grace recently. he is the sweetest little boy. tears are streaming down my face as i write of his goodness and tenderness. he has the sweetest disposition and is smiley and drooly and absolutely perfect to me. i was holding him tonight and he just looked at me, with clear eyes, straight into my eyes, and i know he saw my soul. he didn't break eye contact or get distracted. he just looked at me. and reached his little hand up for me. i could've stayed in that moment forever. now i'm just crying. he is a tender mercy and a huge blessing for me. i can't imagine my sundays without him or my friday nights since he's been my date for a few. i could go on and on about how much i love him and his parents. he helps make my empty arms - my waiting period - a little less painful. and for that, i am grateful.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

go fund who? oh, me :)

Monday night I started a gofundme campaign for my medical expenses. As I stated on my "campaign description," 80% of my treatment this year is out of network.

My parents did NOT ask me to do this, nor do they know about it right now. This is something I felt I should do. When God speaks to me it is with a thought or sentence that comes to my mind and I can "see" the words across my forehead. Twice I had the impression to start a gofundme campaign. It was humbling and hard to do.

I rely on my Mom and Dad for the majority of my medical, housing, and food needs. I work 14 hours a week in the evenings which I use to pay for "fun stuff," like my phone bill, clothes, gas, Sonic, etc.

This year our family has faced added medical strain with my Dad needing treatment. My parents also help my other siblings with various medical/car/living needs. I know the pressure has been hard on my Dad and he has said some things that have made me wish there was something more I could do to help out. I know my parents want me to be well and are invested in me. They have given selflessly for years. In 2 days, 10% of my campaign goal has been met! I am deeply humbled and grateful to those who have given. I feel words fail to adequately express how moved I am by the giving of family, friends, and strangers.

I calculated the cost of my medical needs for the rest of the year and that is where I came up with the goal of $5000. ALL of that money will go directly to paying for my Dialectical Behavior Therapy sessions, Exposure Therapy sessions, and Neuromodulation Technique sessions. Any extra money at the end of the year will be given to Mom and Dad as "reimbursement."

I have had the Shouts of Shame and Exclaims of Embarrassment echo in my mind phrases such as, "You are a terrible person for asking others for money," "You should feel really bad about doing this," and "You'll never meet your goal," but to these and other negative thoughts I say, "QUIET!" Yes, I wish I could do it all on my own, but I can't. And so I humbly ask for help and pray for those who have given and shared my gofundme campaign.

My ultimate goal is to pay it forward. I love what my sister B said when she shared my link, "A dollar goes far past 4 quarters or 100 pennies: it means someone cares and believes mental health is worth fighting." Any amount helps - sharing my page helps.

THANK YOU, my angelic supporters, thank you.

One of my milder seizures.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I am Infinitely more than my Limitations

I write because I want to remember these moments. I have been happy and at peace for the better part of two months straight. I really think that's the longest stretch since November of 2010. What a relief and calming experience it has been to wake up each day and feel happy. Daily I have found myself enjoying my day - finding joy - being joy-filled. And I believe joy stems from happiness. I didn't think I would get to this point. A year ago I was still in the middle of multiple tests down at UTSW. I was having blood drawn on a weekly basis. My diagnosis then was periodic paralysis. My life felt doomed. In a year's time so many options have opened up. So many avenues for healing have been presented to me. I am seeing the fulfillment of God's promises to me that I will be healed. I feel happy and confident because I am facing situations instead of avoiding them. My thoughts are clearer. My decisions are steady. 

Exposure on Wednesday was incredibly hard. I know I have had other excruciating sessions - but it felt like this one took the cake. To re-live in story such hellish experiences is tremendously painful. I felt like I bounced back from it ok and when I saw Dr Huse Friday we did work on releasing the trauma physically. I have never been so stubborn and angry with him before. He got some serious side eye during our session and I found myself fighting so hard against him. I'm typically pretty trusting of him and let him do what he feels is best - but it's like I was split in two inside - one part was trying to let him do his job and the other part was fighting like hell to keep him out. The anger was so powerful. I clenched my jaw - wouldn't make eye contact with him - and wouldn't talk to him. This is very unlike me in our sessions. I went from a pretty yang (feminine, open) state to an extremely yin (closed, angry) state. Pillows are what I use to communicate I want someone to stop - specifically Susan and Dr Huse. I went from a laying position to a sitting position and put a pillow in front of me. I was furious. The anger was trying so hard to protect me from my primary emotions of grief and fear. I was shaking with rage and had my fists up and ready to swing. Dr Huse, in his wisdom and compassion, stopped, looked at me, and I lost it. I have howled/sobbed 3 times in my life - Friday was one of those times. It was uncontrollable, heart-wrenching, and painful. So many thoughts and feelings rose to the surface and I howled from my pain-stricken heart. "I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to try. I want this to be over. I don't want to have seizures or go through exposure. I hate my mission. I hate that it started all of this pain. I'll never be whole. I'm broken." He gently put his arms around me and said, "I know. I know you don't want this. I'm so sorry." It's amazing how validating touch and compassion are to a person who is suffering. For the rest of the day, every time I tried to talk to someone or participate in life (basically anytime I was doing something other than sleeping or distracting) I started to cry. The grief that was inside of me - it was so strong. Later that night I had an episode and started vomiting. He was able to help me over the phone by balancing out the emotions that had come up and calming down my overwhelmed systems (neurological, endocrine, and immune).

God has such a gentle way of preparing me for the next step in my healing. Through Susan, Dr Huse, and two friends I believe one of the next steps for me is going to be learning Trauma Release Exercises from a certified teacher here in Texas.

Since Friday, I have not felt the happy peace I was feeling. This is disappointing to me, but I have hope that the fear I feel now will not always last. I think my body is doing its best to process the toxins that came out Wednesday/Friday and that in time I will return to my state of peaceful happiness. It is scary being faced with the possibility of a depressive episode when I have been feeling good. And I REALLY don't want that - but I know if it happens, I have a strong support system that will see me through. One of the DBT skills is to be present. I can't change the past and I can't control the future. But I can live now and BE now. Even if these aren't my happiest moments, I can say they aren't my saddest. And with each experience I am learning and growing and healing.

While texting S yesterday about my experience Friday, I said, "I'm still amazing even if I don't feel as happy as I have." And her perfect response was, "That is a very amazing thing to say. I'm so proud of you for being able to know that in the midst of IT."

I'm proud of me too.

More and more, I'm catching glimpses of the 'light' within me.