Tuesday, June 16, 2015

ripple effect

a long time ago, at the beginning of "all of this" that is my life, i was in and out of suicidal ideation.

i had an ok counselor, but he didn't address my life ending thoughts in a way that stopped them. instead he tried to talk me out of them. it was not the most effective way to help me.

it was soon after i got home from my mission - so back in 2010/2011. i wavered with depression/hopelessness and would sometimes go into his office so desperate that i only wanted my life to end.

during this time, i could only think of 5 people who would come to my funeral - and 2 of those were because they had to. i knew s and her partner st would come willingly. i figured my counselor would come because he would feel some responsibility and that he would bring his wife (one of the ones who had to be there). the last person was the minister - and only because he had to be there officiating. 

i felt ostracized from the world. alone. broken. and i didn't think anyone cared one way or the other if i lived or died.

as i have walked through the past 4 1/2 years my eyes have been open to the effect i have on people around me. in moments when i have broken down and wanted to end my life, susan and i have talked about the huge, rippling effect it would have on so many people. 

today i put on facebook, "I. Want. Pizza." tonight a friend came over with a pizza in hand and an owl gift in the other. how amazing is that?? we probably haven't sat down and chatted for years, but there she was. it speaks VOLUMES about the person she is - and it showed me once again that i matter even to people i may feel i don't have much contact with.

as i think about my life now and the rich, full friendships/familyships/relationships in it, i KNOW i would be more than missed if i ever got to a place where i chose to take my life. this realization is such a testament to me of 1) god's love for me 2) the incredible people he's placed in my life & 3) the progress i have made.

a stone cannot be thrown into a pond without making a ripple.

so it is with each life.

one cannot exist without effecting others.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

give yourself grace

almost two months ago, i sat in my friend c's car, after we had spent our birthday weekend together, and said, "can i just talk for a minute." she of course said yes and i soon began to cry.

how - how was i supposed to keep going through life when i had no idea what i was dealing with physically? would i ever drive again? i felt such a lack in myself that i "knew" i would be no good as a spouse. who would want a broken partner for life? if i found someone to accept me with my diagnosis, could i be a mom?  i questioned/voiced these and so many other thoughts through tears.

the woman i have dreamed of being, i could no longer see. she used to shine before me like a brilliant, attainable light. but now, she was a gray, shadowed outline of someone i knew nothing about. i felt lost in hopelessness and scared.

c listened carefully and responded with validation. she said many things, but what has stayed with me is, "i think you need to give yourself some grace."

it was so profound - give myself grace

when i think of grace words that come to mind are: care, understand, love, accept, forgive, kind, compassionate, tender. if i were to live my life with an added measure of grace towards myself i would not beat myself up when i fall short of goals, forgive myself each day for the mistakes made and recommit to doing better the next day, be gentle with myself through validating my feelings, accept that i don't have the life i thought i would, focus on my thoughts/environment - the things i can control - to make it a more positive place, address my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wounds with a sensitivity born from suffering which has led to knowledge, and give myself the same love, respect, and understanding i do to others.

because of my faith, i know that grace is "divine help or strength given through the mercy and love of jesus christ." he is the ultimate giver of grace. the simple question, what would jesus do?, is one i need to ask myself more when responding to my human frailties. 

i love jesus.

jesus loves me.

because he loves me, i matter to him.

and since i matter to him, i will give myself grace as i journey/struggle through life.

2 corinthians 12:9
"my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."


Monday, June 8, 2015

a long two weeks

it's been two weeks since i last wrote - my poor blog baby!

so much has happened in that time.

i feel my old familiar friend shame creeping up as i begin to write this post.

my cousin sent me this quote: "Shame needs 3 things to survive: Secrecy, Silence, and Judgment."

i have been open about my journey - so it hasn't been a secret - i haven't silenced parts of it or smoothed over rough patches - so it hasn't been silenced - but i do judge myself often for struggling with mental illness. 

i understand that having a mental illness is not my fault, that i don't do these things to myself because i think it's fun or for attention, and that there shouldn't be shame in acknowledging it.

but there is - for me - always a tiny part that wants to blame myself for the way i am.

last week i spent two awful days in the hospital emu (epilepsy monitoring unit) down at utsw. i was yanked off of meds, sleep deprived, worked physically, and had SO MUCH blood drawn. i'm thinking i could start my own blood bank...

the purpose of this stay was a last resort/final attempt to get me a diagnosis about the attacks i've been having for years. 

after much testing my team came in and compassionately delivered the news that i have PNES (psychogenic non-epileptic seizures/spells) also known as conversion disorder. i was previously diagnoised with this but received no help to overcome it besides medication - which as we can see over four years later - has not taken care of the spells. utsw offers a specialized program only for people who have PNES and i have been referred there.

i am not sure what all is involved with the new therapy but from what i've heard part of it is EMDR which is a type of trauma therapy.

my neurologist was so kind when he delivered the news. he said that PNES is fairly common and that it shows my brain has created unhealthy pathways to cope with the stress i feel on a daily basis. through therapy i can create new pathways in my brain and hopefully recover completely from this.

for the first time in months, i had hope. i could see myself living with this. i could see myself dating, working, getting married, having babies/raising children, being a soccer mom, going back to school - living life! when i had the diagnosis of periodic paralysis i had no such hope. it is a progressive disease and i could not see past my next nap let alone the future. there was no light at the end of the tunnel for me with that. but with PNES i can see life - i can see myself having a "life worth living." 

i am hopeful again. hopeful that i'll be able to cope with my mental health that is affecting my physical health. hopeful that bright days really are ahead, as s has said all along. do i love that i have this? no. would i choose to go through it? no. but if i have to go through something, i'm willing to go through this. i'm hoping it will create in me more empathy and understanding for others who suffer from this not well known or understood disorder.

acceptance is the first step towards any goal. and i accept that i have this, that this is part of the way i am right now, and that this is something i'm going to have to work through. i accept that.

and in doing so, i accept myself.