I Know I’m Not Crazy

So I am really into shows and movies about doctors, hospitals, and the like. In such shows, there is sometimes a patient that comes in with all these symptoms and the doctors will then try to say “Oh, those are the classic symptoms of insert mental illness here. Let me call in a psychiatrist.” The patient will panic and say the famous words, “No, please! I know I’m not crazy.” The doctor will then perform numerous tests and find some tumor or lesion and it will be removed and the patient will go on their merry way. When the doctors give the patient the news that it’s a tumor or some other tangible ailment, the patient is relieved because it is much easier to accept a tumor than it is to accept a mental illness.

I know I’m not crazy. I’m not. I have a condition in which my brain produces too much or too little of certain chemicals which cause my mind to not function as well as it should. Just like a tumor I have no control over this chemical reaction. I’m not crazy. Why does society treat those of us that suffer as such?

I understand why people would be upset when they hear that they might have a mental illness. I get it. It totally sucks. It sucks because mental illness is hard to diagnose and even harder to treat. It sucks because it takes a lot of hard work and patience to treat an illness. It sucks because you know you’ll be treated differently because of a chemical imbalance in your body. I get it. It sucks. Let me be perfectly clear, however, it does not suck because we are crazy! It doesn’t. We aren’t crazy.

We may feel crazy at times because our brain is trying kill our body. We may feel crazy when the world around us functions with such ease and our world fails to function at all. We may feel crazy when people treat mental illness like a mythical creature. We may feel crazy, but we aren’t.

Do you know how hard it is to get through life knowing you have nothing to live for? No? Well I do. I have gotten through and created a life worth living. My brain constantly try’s to take that away from me and my fist full of pills remind me I am one slip away from losing all hope. However, these things don’t make me crazy. They make me a fighter. I realize that I will be fighting the rest of my life and that is exhausting. I will not, however, let the world tell me my fight isn’t legitimate. It’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I hope one day there will be a Doctor show where the doctors suggest a mental illness and the patient is able to say, “That really sucks, but I’m happy there is treatment. Walk with me while I fight it.”

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Climbing that Mountain

The strangest phenomenon is when I am doing great and all of a sudden my brain flips a switch. It’s strange being happy and knowing life is good but feeling this overwhelming sense of doom. It’s like being locked inside on a beautiful day. You know it’s a beautiful day but for whatever reason, you can’t go out and experience it.

I describe it as my brain wanting me dead. It sucks. I don’t want to die but my brain tricks me. It’s as if I’m looking through a dark lens. I can’t see life for what it is. Sometimes it comes gradually and sometimes it happens all at once.

I think throughout my healing journey I have found myself consumed by different things. More recently, I have been terrified by the past. Little things keep coming in and reminding me of awful things. Most people who know me have heard me talk about my rock bottom. If not, you are sure to read about it in a past blog post. My rock bottom was a state of mania. I did such awful disgusting things that I can’t even recognize myself. I keep being reminded and reminded again of all this things I did. I keep being reminded of all the pain and hurt I still carry from those days. It’s not just going to go away.

Therapy lately has been hard because life has been hard. This journey is truly and journey because I’m still climbing mountains. The most important thing is that I don’t lose site of myself and my goals. I have built a life worth living. Now, I must continue to live it.

Pointless curses.

Suck it Up, Buttercup.

It’s not there, if you can’t see it.

It’s not real, if not everyone can feel it.

You’re making excuses.

No one is going to believe it.

You really should grow up.

Why don’t you just give up.

Stop being so damn lazy.

We are going to have to write you up.

Maybe you should try praying more.

You shouldn’t take all those pills anymore.

You scared your peers with your outburst.

You should just try to be happy more.

You seem fine to me.

You look fine to me.

Suck it up, buttercup.

Your life doesn’t look hard to me.

You’re milking this for all it’s worth.

Maybe if you lose some weight it will help your self worth.

You’re just doing this for attention.

You’ll probably grow out of it, for what it’s worth.

It’s all in your head.

Yeah, you’ve got that right. It IS all in my head.

The Suicide Clause

Most life insurances nowadays have a Suicide clause in them. This means if you take your own life via suicide, the contract is void and they don’t have to pay out the claim. I understand why this exists as I can see how some may take advantage of the system. I also see how this might motivate some to take their own life if they are in a tough spot financially. On another hand, I see this clause as another way of ignoring the sickly existence of some very real, very hard, mental illnesses.

Sometimes, I feel like my life is just one big suicide clause. This meaning everything that happens to me is just another reason to ignore the grotesque illness my body is fighting every day. It means that if I die because of my illness someday, the “mentally ill contract” will be void and I will be to blame not the illness.

I shouldn’t feel guilty for being sick. I shouldn’t feel guilty for showing symptoms of my sickness. Hell, I shouldn’t feel guilty for occasionally contemplating suicide. However, because of this suicide clause that is society and their ignorance, I am left feeling devastated.

I am left feeling inadequate. It’s as if I am not really sick unless I am in the hospital. It’s the guilt of having to leave work after an anxiety attack and feeling like a failure because I have seen doing so good for so long. I am tired of having to defend myself when I show symptoms because the world doesn’t have the capability to understand the disability I am suffering.

Sometimes, I feel like a failure.. Sometimes…

But

This so called suicide clause can’t control me. Why? Because I am strong. I’m stronger than most people realize. I have learned to stand up for myself. I have learned what I need for self care and what is pushing me to my limits. I have will not let anyone bully me or tell me what I’m “supposed” to feel. I may be sick but I’m not dumb. I’m one of the smartest and hardest working women you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting and I will not let any illness or person stand in my way.

A Question of Faith

If I’m honest… and I mean extremely honest, I have so much internal conflict dealing with Faith in God. Part of me really wants to believe and hope in something. I want to be able to take my questions, my worries, my skepticism, and just throw it all away and just believe that the God of the Bible is real. It makes sense to believe at many times. Who wouldn’t want free eternal life? On the other hand, I really don’t want to believe.

Here comes that honesty. I have many reasons for not wanting to believe including questions of his goodness, actions from other Christians, and evidence that he even exists. The biggest part of my doubt comes from purely selfish reasons. I have lived life as a Christian and I have lived life as an agnostic and the truth is, I prefer life as an agnostic and here is why. As a Christian, I was always failing and falling short. No matter how free a gift of Salvation was supposed to be, it never felt free. It felt like guilt. It felt like trying to live a more perfect and holier life but failing and failing badly. It’s feeling shame and sadness. Why? Because that’s what God says about me. I hear conflicting things like it only takes the faith of a mustard seed and that once you are a Christian you should not want to sin because of your love for him. God killed people for far less than the sins I have committed. I don’t want to live my life striving to meet and unobtainable goal. It’s like when you get performance evaluations at work and you worked SO hard all year but you still get a “fair” score because “good” and “excellent” scores are never obtained. You work SO hard to keep the commandments yet you STILL break the commandments because your human and it’s impossible to keep the commandments. Then I’m told a perfect savior took everything from me so I don’t have to worry about breaking the commandments.. but wait, yes I do because if I don’t try to not break the commandments I don’t love him and I’m not a real Christian. It doesn’t make and sense and I don’t want any part of a religion that makes me feel so dirty.

Whew.. that was a lot more than what I was planning on saying but it’s just eating me alive. What do I want? What do I need? Can I be a Christian and not live in shame? Can I be an agnostic and not live in fear of hell? The answer unfortunately is no to both of those. I can’t, and I’m stuck in the religious limbo of not knowing what to do or what to believe. I already anticipate people reaching out in response to this saying “you don’t have to feel guilty because Jesus covers your sins”, and that poses so many other unanswered questions.

It’s too much. It’s more than I can bear. Shouldn’t this be easy?

Traveling to Bethlehem

Have you ever stopped to think about how awful Mary and Joseph’s travel to Bethlehem must have been. In the story of Christmas, the whole trip is summarized in just one verse. Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the town of David. One verse about one long journey. How long exactly? Well let’s take a look. Google tells me that traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem via the Yitzhak Rabin Highway would take around 2 hours and 11 minutes. To me, a two hour drive is long. Since there were no cars back then, we can easily assume they traveled on foot, maybe with an animal. Google tells us that the walk would take roughly 32 hours. Now assuming they would need to stop to sleep and eat, let’s say the trip took roughly two full days.

Imagine traveling, on foot, very pregnant, for two whole days. Two days of walking nonstop. Swollen feet, sore back, full bladder, and every other side effect of pregnancy would be in full effect. That journey certainly couldn’t of been easy. Yet, they did it. They did it because they had too.

How often does life throw us out on our own “journey”. It often feels like life gives us the worst circumstances and expects us to carry on and travel through. For me, my recent journey has been with losing so much and learning to graciously accept help when offered. It has been hard and I have been kicked when I’m down but I keep going because I have too. Like Mary and Joseph, not only did they have to go to Bethlehem because Caesar told them to, but they also had to go because the prophet from long ago said the Savior of the World would come from the town of Bethlehem. Can you imagine the ramifications of they would have just quit halfway?

I’m really great at giving up. I think about giving up a lot, in fact. I often wish I could quit my job, move away, hide my face, even end my life. Problem is, I can’t quit. I need to keep going. Not because there is a prophecy about me or because the president told me too. I need to keep going because my life and my journey is meaningful to those around me.

Everyone walks there own path and has there own journey. No matter how long and hard the road may seem don’t give up on the hope that every thing you do has the potential to be meaningful to someone else. Once your life holds purpose and meaning, you’ll find giving up becomes less of an option. This doesn’t mean the road will get any easier. In fact, it could always potentially be worse. What’s important to remember is that once you walk through a really, terribly hard spot, you’ll come out on the other side stronger. Your journey will also cross paths with a multitude of other people walking their own road. You hold the power to maybe help make their journey not so hard. Let them know that they aren’t walking alone.

Keep that in mind this holiday season and into the new year. Carry on and help others to carry on. Make life worth living.

Merry Christmas friends

.

Shalom

Am I a Christian?

I’m going to share something I often keep to myself. I don’t share this for many reasons, but I feel sharing it now may help me uncover some unanswered questions I have rattling around in my brain. I’m currently reading the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. I was hoping reading through some of the the book might encourage what little faith I do have buried inside me. Those who have known me for some time may think I have always been a fairly devout Christian. However there is a lot of “junk” I think about that often makes me squirm in my seat. It makes me question what I believe. I even often think I’m better off not knowing. I think that being a good person is all that matters. Yet, the religious upbringing I had sits in the back of my mind nagging me to figure it out.. or else.

So, here is my story. Like I said, maybe putting pen on paper so to speak is just what I need to help answer some questions.

I grew up in a Christian home and attended a Christian School through the eight grade. I was naive and innocent entering high school. I quickly learned innocence was not an option in the real world. I learned it was time for me to decide who I wanted to become. I decided I was not going to be a church girl. I did everything in my efforts to make myself cool, to make myself popular. I lied and cheated my way into what I thought was the “it crowed”. Though, I did realize even though they accepted me, something about me didn’t quit fit in. It was at this point I decided to abandon all my religious upbringing. I decided to take on a new role. I loved all things that I knew my parents would disapprove of. I smoked, I drank, I swore, and I hung around people who were like minded in those things. My senior year was in my mind my best year because I felt like I finally had it all. I lived for staying out late and getting high in my friends garage. I loved watching raunchy movies. I loved making out and doing more than just making out. I thrived on it. I couldn’t allow myself to be caught at home on a weekend. It was such a rush. Tons of bad things happened during this time but to me, belonging to this group of people meant far more to me than occasional getting hurt. It was the best.

Now enters my freshman year of college. I was so excited to be moving out of my parents house and to be independent of them. I had ideas in my head of party’s and drugs and how much fun I was going to have. As it turned out, my first couple weeks of college sucked. I felt so alone. The “cool kids” in my dorm didn’t like me. They never invited me to hang out or to go to the dinning hall. I didn’t fit in anymore. I was back to square one. In this new place I needed a place to fit in again. That’s when I found His House, a Christian fellowship group on campus. The people were kind and genuine. They accepted me when others didn’t. I had found my people. So much like I did in high school, I assimilated myself to these people and there beliefs. I took on a role of college girl that loves Jesus. It felt comfortable for me as I had grown up in a Christian home. Yet here I was able to make it my own. I spend the better of three years in this group with these people. I’d like to think a lot of my faith during this time was sincere. Perhaps it was. A lot of what I see looking back at it though is how I was different behind closed doors. How I lied to fit in. How almost every move I made was to help me become more popular in our own group. When the depression took me, it was so easy to let go of the faith I loosely held.

I held onto my faith the next couple of years because even though I was out of school, many of my friends were still those I had met at His House. It was also still a good way to get friends. Church is a great place to meet people. If I’m honest, I wouldn’t tell people I’m Christian in the hospital because I didn’t want that to be a part of my treatment. It was easier to just be without the burden of faith. I did struggle with ideas with my pastors regarding my depression, but answered were not comfortable in such a horrible crisis. I sought after even more fellowship as my yearning became stronger to be a part of something. I started attending Bridge Street Mission School.

If there is anything good I can say about this time in my life, it’s that it taught me so many valuable lessons. I had a family where I was loved. I learned humility and I learned to serve others. I learned discipline and the value of hard work and dedication. I learned how blessed we are to live in the United States. It gave me a heart for the nations. It also totally and completely ruined me. Let me back up first.

At the schools we lived together, ate together, and did everything together. It was the greatest. I never felt like I belonged so well in my entire life. It is during this time that I think I had a really genuine faith in God. With all the outside distractions stripped away, I felt like I was completely surrendered to God. I was alive… that is until I wanted to die.

You see, they didn’t understand depression. They didn’t get that it was a physical disease that I couldn’t control. They more or less thought it was a demon. They more or less thought God would heal me… but funny thing is… he didn’t. This one thing had always made me uncomfortable, despite all the good things the school brought me.

Before we went abroad, they basically gave me guideline as to what would constitute me coming home. I agreed to them. One was if I attempted suicide. I did. They sent me home, here is the thing about that… I attempted my very last week there. They sent me home the next day and charged me for the plane ticket. I attempted suicide because I was in a very dark spot after seeing some very traumatic things. I also felt alone there because no one understood my darkness. I understand why. But I don’t understand the aftermath. I was told I could no longer be a part of the school. My home, my friends, my family, and o could no longer be a part of it because I have an illness. They didn’t welcome me back with open arms. Instead they shunned me like I was a dirty person. I hated them. I hated the God they believed in of this is their version of compassion.

I took my rage and anger, and turned it into destruction. I cut myself, I Drank, I swore off God, and I desperately tried to fill the hole those people had left in my life. I started sleeping around to fill the void. It got so bad that I almost got myself killed in a shady motel room. I gave up. I gave up on God and everything else in my life. This is my rock bottom.

Three years later and I’m still recovering from the hurt that the leaders in the school caused me. Three years later and they are still my number one objection to Christians and Christ. Healing is a slow process but I’m finally getting to a point where I want to know truth. I want to know if this life is it or if there is a God. And if there is a God, I want to be a Christian that shows compassion. I want to be one that has doubted, and struggled, and hated, and fought.

So, no, I’m really not a good Christian. I’m just a person trying to find the truth. I’m just working to make sure others know they belong.