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.

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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.

The Side Effects of Depression

Among really good times, still lurks a heavy darkness. Depression continues to change me. It changes my mind, my relationships, my job, my home, and the way I view the world. It just finished changing my job and my home (for now) and now it’s changing my perspective. Regardless of how difficult changing jobs and housing has been, it has been a pretty positive change in the long run. I realize how incredibly draining and toxic my work environment was. I’m learning how much I was under appreciated. Finding the perfect job for me showed me how much potential I have and how much I can achieve. Moving into a new apartment that’s not falling apart and hosts a fair rent is a bonus, despite moving pains. Overall, I am incredibly happy with the way things are going,

What still lurks beneath the surface? It’s the constant fear of something about to go wrong. It’s the sinister knowledge that life can be really shitty despite everyone’s best efforts. It’s knowing that the only reason I’m alive is from just a couple handfuls of tiny pills that are worth more than my car. It’s knowing that missing taking even just one of those pills on one single day could send my life in a tailspin. It’s knowing that no matter how many pills I take, how many therapy sessions I have, no matter how many coping skills I know, how many hospital visits I log, or how many doctors I talk to, I could still decide to end it all someday. Lurking inside is the unforgiving truth that despite my best efforts, I may live in the darkness of depression for the rest of my life.

All of these things become almost a side effect of depression. Because when depression isn’t consuming my mind, the weight of living with depression does. So yeah, things seem to be looking up, but I tread on eggshells. I’m learning to realize that my optimism can sometimes be my downfall. It’s realizing that the lower my expectations, the less likely I will be let down. Depression sucks, but if you’re forced to live with it, you have to learn to adapt to make life as pleasant as possible.

Where is The Hope?

Why does it feel like there is nobody there when you need them the most. People always say they are there to listen, but bail out the second hard stuff is mentioned. Sometimes I just want someone that is unbiased to hear me out when I’m in pain, but therapy isn’t just one phone call away. Unfortunately, a reality of life if we are always alone. At the end of the day it just me. I will be the only one buried in my grave.

Prayers these days feel more like whispers of rage and hope seems like a fleeting wish. I wrestle too much with my mind that I can’t seem to grasp even an idea that maybe there is a better tomorrow or maybe that there is more to this horrible life. I’m like Daniel in the Lions den but I’m being devoured. Or the three courageous men in the furnace except I’m being consumed by the fire. Oxygen refuses to remain in my lungs as the throat that is life slowly shuts and I’m struggling to find my next breath.

I often feel like death is the better option as opposed to struggling to stay alive. My world is getting increasingly smaller with every faithful step forward. Like I am swimming against the current, I’m so close to being whisked off to sea.

Where is the hope?

Chapter 2: Big Brother

The sun was setting over the small lake side town in which the hospital resided. I wasn’t sure of how much time had passed as the only clocks were located in the commons. I could tell evening was approaching because it was getting darker and I was getting anxious. I found the lights and turned them on. Looking around the room, I noticed peculiarities about the place. The mirror in the bathroom wasn’t glass, the toilet paper was placed in a hole in the wall, and every hook in the room collapsed with just a slight amount of pressure. “These people really think of everything,” I thought to myself as I settled back on my bed. My stomach was telling me it’s time to eat something. The man that was packing the hall seemed to have stopped, so I figured now was my chance.

Slowly, I crept out of my room as if I was in a horror film. I walked on the far left side of the hallway looking in to every room as I passed. I got to the front desk expecting to be greeted with a million questions, however, no one said a word. Relieved, I went into what Nancy referred to as the “Day Room” and looked around. There was a large TV that was sealed behind a plastic wall. It hosted some sort of game show at the far end of the room. To the right of the tv sat a small book case. Couches and chairs surrounded this small area to give it a living room appearance. Behind the couch was the table. It was long and stretched the rest of the length of the room. A couple people sat at the table either coloring or reading. There were games and puzzles along the wall to the right of me.¬† Just above the games sat a large window that gave nurses and care providers a clear view of all of our movements. This made me feel like I was a child in a not so pleasant way. Behind me, stood a refrigerator. It stated that the contents were for patients only. I opened the fridge to ease my curiosity only to be disappointed by what I found. Cheese was my only food choice and it looks as if they had enough milk and juice boxes to start a school lunch program. I grabbed myself a chocolate milk and sat down at a secluded table that was separate from the main one. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone so I figured this solo table would be my best bet.

I continued to observe in silence all of those around me. The man previously seen pacing the halls now sat at the large table reading a newspaper. A smaller Latino woman sat kiddy corner to him. She was coloring some sort of adult coloring book page. At the opposite end of the large table sat a larger, unkempt, man that was mumbling something to himself. He frequently used hand gestures and threw his head on the table. At the time, I was more afraid of him than I was concerned for him as to what he might have been going through. The only other person left in the room was a man that was sitting in a chair near the television. Though he was near the tv, it was clear he wasn’t watching it. He was staring coldly at the floor. Sporting black hoodie with the hood up, he was puffing on his e-cigarette. Now, I don’t know if it was his sheer look of doom and dread or my growing curiosity, but suddenly I knew I was not the only one here that felt so alone.

Time seemed to stand still whenever I had a moment alone so I don’t know how long I was lost in my thoughts for, but eventually, the room started filling with more and more people. Barb and Nancy walked in, quickly spotting me. They sat at the only two seats left at my little table. I let them talk and ask questions. I had little interest in having a real conversation. I only paid attention when what they were talking was relevant to me, such as, what time meals come. I also quickly gained interest as they detailed out visiting hours and pointed out a wall phone I could utilize.

Our time talking was halted when a tall well dressed man with shaggy blond hair entered the room. I had remembered seeing him sitting behind the front desk earlier. He turned off all the lights and started talking about this thing called “mindfulness” and how we were about to practice it. I was skeptical of the whole ordeal. What made it even worse is he started the practice with a singing bowl. I was getting weird a voodoo vibe and I it made me super uncomfortable. The good thing was that during the practice, everything was quiet and still for once. The next good thing, was that after we were done, dinner was served.

Very slowly uncovered all my food. Bland chicken salad and wheat bread is what was on the menu for me tonight. I was definitely going to take Barb up on her offer of showing me the menu. I took a few bites but I just shoved the rest aside. I cleared my spot at the table and walked to my room.

I sat down on the bed, this time feeling a little lighter as I was growing more familiar with my surroundings. I looked out the window again to see the town alive. I watched out the window as if it was a blockbuster movie. I let my imagination drive the stories that popped into my head. From this high, I felt like this was the Sims in real life. The only thing is, out there– it was real life, but in this room, was some sort of nightmare.

The hours passed slowly and I was excited to see my parents during visiting hours that evening. We cried and laughed. I told them all the strange things I encountered. They told me they loved me and that this is the best way for me to get better. And after what felt like only a few minutes, the clock struck eight and visiting hours were over. I hugged them goodbye and they reassured me it was all going to be alright. I put my brave face on and watched them leave, the secured doors locking behind them.

My parents had pick up some cloths from my apartment so I went back to my room to make it feel just a slight bit homie. I wanted to shower and change out of my jeans. I felt gross on the outside which didn’t help my internal feelings any. I walked down towards the nurses station to ask about shower supplies. I was realizing that almost every patient was wearing the same blue colored scrub pants. As they walked past me in the hall, I wondered if I could have a pair. I asked the people at the desk and they handed me a small cup that I could dispense shampoo into, a small bar of soap, a pair of scrub pants, and another pair of sock. It was the little things that made me happy. A nurse walked me to the linen closet showing me where I can get towels or extra blankets at night. She pointed out the shower rooms were located across the hall from the patients rooms. She left me as I walked into one and shut the door. The door didn’t lock for my own safety they said, but I would have felt safer if no one could walk in on me naked. Regardless, I tossed the cloths aside and stepped under the warm stream of water. I was washing away everything that had happened today and I wanted to walk out of there with a new attitude.

After my shower I pulled on the scrubs and threw on a dirty t-shirt they must have grabbed off the floor. I walked into the calm day room and went straight for the bookshelf. I picked one out and brought it back to my room. If I had to be locked in here, I might as well make the best of it. I was on a mental vacation and this is exactly what I needed.

After a short time reading I drifted to sleep. I had shut the door when I came into my room and I remember waking up to find it halfway opened. Every 15 minutes or so shoes would squeak into my room and squeak right back out. They were like big brother, always watching.


Check out the first chapter HERE