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.


video
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.

Monday, April 18, 2016

gratitude

i woke up today to a text from my sister, b. she said that the first thing she did this morning was kneel down and pray, thanking Heavenly Father for me, my life, and that i am her sister.

i was touched and awakened by that. why had i never thought to thank my Heavenly Father for my life on my birthday? so i too knelt down and thanked my Father in Heaven for preserving my life, for my health, for my happiness, for my body and mind. it was such an amazing experience to express gratitude for my life. i have often taken my life for granted - even hating it at times. but today - today - i was grateful for it. grateful that i'm here to watch my nieces and nephews grow up - here to make a difference in family's, friend's and stranger's lives - here to laugh - here to grow, learn, and come closer to God. 

walking the path God has put me on has not been // is not easy. but, finally, i can say that i'm grateful for it. i'm grateful for the rocks, dips, twists, bridges, and benches along my path. as hard as it has been to walk, it is beautiful. and because of it i have learned skills that have made me MINDFUL of the good. now i know pain will not last forever. there is relief from suffering. it comes. and when it comes i can see it now. my life is beautiful - i see the beauty. i don't always like my walk, but i have accepted that it's mine to walk.

this year holds hope and promise.

Happy Day to Me!


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

when my demons set me free

... wow ...

my last post was so raw - and a very "type 4" reaction. lol

i took the enneagram test and the results came back 6, 4, (one point difference between the two) and 9.

i really feel like 6 represents who i have always been and 4 points to the changes i have made over the past five years to become a different individual. 9 is me trying to pull those two together - ha.

it's a really neat test and i recommend you take it if you haven't.

i think the main reason i've been so quiet is not because i don't have plenty to say, but because on february 3rd i started exposure therapy and as a result of that i have felt very exposed. the events that have caused me to have ptsd (which i didn't believe i had until my counselor gave me a test for it last year) are ones i have to talk about each week, record, listen to the recording, and then engage in activities i've stopped doing over the years because of the trauma. 

i have found incredible relief from this therapy. it is hard. very hard. but i'm doing it and seeing measurable progress as i do it. 

susan continues to validate and point out my progress. it is very rewarding to hear your counselor tell you how proud she is of you and how much progress you have made.

i believe these traumatic events are my demons - and amazingly enough - by facing them, confronting them, talking through them, they are giving me freedom. and isn't that all anyone wants? to be free?

dr huse continues to provide excellent support to me. and my psychiatrist is wonderful. i am blessed with family and friends who lift me up in prayer. i can see the direct results of their prayers. thank you for praying.

so many things have gone on - situations that are causing me to reflect on my choices and prepare for future choices.

i see God's hand. i see him in my life. and because i see him, i know he sees me.


ps - i have found this website helpful when it comes to information about pnes - Psychological (Psychogenic) Non Epileptic Seizures 

"knowledge is power."

Sunday, January 24, 2016

when i'm an option, not a priority

today, i feel like an option.

sure, i'll do for company or chatting until someone better comes along.

this has left me feeling rejected, because to whoever i'm engaged with, i'm fine until someone interesting comes along. someone who's getting married, or having a baby, or moving, or getting a new job, or going off to school, or starting their own business, or doing something BIG in life.

i'm not - so it doesn't matter what i'm doing - it's not big enough to matter.

i'll do until someone better and interesting comes along.

one day, i hope to be someone's priority instead of their option.