Who do you think you are? (Part 2)

February 12, 2015 at 3:04 am

Last December, a friend of mine extended an invitation. She wanted to know if I would come speak at a church women’s dinner meeting in February. On February 3, I gave my speech. Here is part two…

You can read Part One HERE.

When Jehovah introduced Himself to Moses, of all the hundreds of names He could have chosen, the name He chose was: I AM. Peter taught, “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The name of Christ not only saves us from our sins but it can also save us from our sorrows and heartaches, if we do not use it in vain. How are you using the name of Christ? Would The Great I Am approve of the words you are using with His name?

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Who do you think you are? (Part 1)

February 10, 2015 at 11:11 pm

A week ago tonight I did something very brave. I got up in front of about 100 [felt like a billion] women and gave a speech.

For years I have had this belief about myself that I am “slow of speech.” I am the daughter of a master teacher. My father has taught and trained professionally for most of his adult life. But I thought my apple had fallen quite far from the tree. For years I have believed things like this: I am a writer, not a speaker. I can be eloquent in writing, but not in speech. I am horrible at [vocally] explaining things, but give me a computer keyboard and I’m golden.

Simultaneously, I have had multiple experiences throughout my life in which I have been told or prompted (by teachers, friends, God and others) that I should open my mouth more, that speaking would be a part of my future. Me? Really? Me?

So, last December, a friend of mine extended an invitation. She wanted to know if I would come speak at a church women’s dinner meeting in February. I told her, “I think I can do that. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

booklilenginesm1I thought it was going to just be a room of maybe twenty women. I would only be speaking for twenty minutes or so. No big deal. But the truth was… it felt like a really big deal. A really, really big deal. In fact, that’s exactly how I started my speech. After a few introductory words, I said something like this:

On Drinking Tiger Vomit

February 2, 2015 at 4:04 am

“It’s OK, Mommy.  You’ll grow another one.” -My second daughter (after I pushed out my fourth baby’s placenta)

A little over a week ago, I attended a three-day therapeutic guided imagery training workshop. It was one of those life-changing experiences… where you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be, learning exactly what you are supposed to be learning. Before I tell you about some of my imagery experiences, let me answer a question that may be on some of your minds: what is guided imagery?

In brief, as a therapeutic guided imagery facilitator, I can help another person come into a relaxed and altered state where we can use the mind/imagination to visualize or imagine a limitless variety of experiences and possibilities and find comfort and healing. Guided imagery isn’t just a sort of woo-woo feel-good hippy trip. It is shown through scientific research to be beneficial in a wide variety of circumstances for a wide variety of physical and emotional difficulties. The Journal of Instructional Psychology explains:

Guided imagery is a flexible intervention whose efficacy has been indicated through a large body of research over many decades in counseling and allied fields. It has earned the right to be considered a research-based approach to helping. (Guided Imagery as an Effective Therapeutic Technique: A Brief Review of Its History and Efficacy Research)

For instance, in a recent pilot study published in Holistic Nursing Practice looking at the effect of guided imagery on stress levels of hospitalized pregnant women, the results were promising:

Littering Love

December 19, 2014 at 8:24 pm

So I got this idea. It grew partly out of the widespread belief that more people commit suicide during the holidays. I did some digging, and it turns out that this is sort of a myth. In reality, suicide rates peak in the springtime, though there is a significant uptick after Christmas… “a 40 percent uptick, according to one large Danish study” (see here and here). But, whatever. It doesn’t really help to get lost in the details when it comes to suicide. Regardless of when suicides are highest, they’re always too high.

In the US, nearly 30,000 people die by suicide each year, and the rate of attempted suicide is much higher—so much so that there is an estimated one attempted suicide per minute. Worldwide, suicide claims more deaths than accidents, homicides, and war combined. And many cases of suicide, particularly in the elderly, go completely undetected and unaccounted (Neal Burton, MD, Source).

Suicide is also one of the leading causes of maternal death, as I’ve written about before.

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Book Review: Walking with the Women of the New Testament

December 14, 2014 at 11:53 pm

In October I received a free review copy (from Cedar Fort Publishing) of the book Walking with the Women of the New Testament, by Heather Farrell ( beautiful art by Mandy Jane Williams). I knew right off the bat that my review would be biased. Heather Farrell and I, along with Felice Austin, Robyn Allgood, and Sheridan Ripley, co-wrote The Gift of Giving Life from 2009 until it was published in 2012.

Meeting in-person for the first time in summer of 2010

Meeting in-person for the first time in summer of 2010

I found Heather’s blog Women in the Scriptures back in 2009 doing an internet search about Eve. After clicking around on her blog and devouring a bunch of her posts, I told Felice, “We need her!” Not long after that, we invited her to join with us in writing The Gift of Giving Life. Over the course of the project, we eventually all met in person. I adore Heather Farrell.

Just Keep Swimming

December 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

On October 29, I sent out the same text to a bunch of friends and family. It said:

Kind of suicidal please pray

I had spent a chunk of the morning on the phone with my neuropsychologist stepmom, who had called me after we exchanged a few crisis-riddled text messages, despite her being in the middle of a (no joke) suicide prevention tele-seminar.

I have great friends. They mobilized on many sides to keep me safe that day. For a good part of the late morning, I sat at the park with a circle of earthly angels (and probably spiritual too) around me. I couldn’t really participate in the conversation. Mostly I sat staring into a void of darkness, but I was so grateful that I wasn’t alone.

At lunchtime, one of my angel friends came home with me. While we sat at my table, we talked and cried. Our kids played upstairs. After a while, my daughter came downstairs saying something like, “Mom, we have this movie!” I glanced up to see what she was talking about and noticed that she was holding a plastic Dory bath toy. My friend smiled and said to my daughter [to me], “Yeah! What does Dory say? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!” What my friend didn’t know was just how loaded with meaning those words were for me.

Buried Treasure

October 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I wanted to be healed. I wanted to be calm and happy without medication. I wanted to meet the baby who had been visiting me in dreams and visions. I was on a trajectory of hope, aiming for a future I believed was right for me. When it all came crashing down, there was no sense in reaching for that hoped-for life any longer. All I could reach for was getting through another day, and another, and another.

Fortunately, I’m no longer in survival mode. I’m not fighting tooth and nail to get through the day. When I do still have anxiety, it is mild and manageable. I am finally beyond the insomnia that plagued me for months. I’m sleeping without sleep-aids! Most of the time I can genuinely smile. I can take care of my family. I’ve regained my appetite. All of these things are huge victories.

But now that I have the energy to do more than just survive, I also have the energy to look to the future. Assuming that my medication continues to work for me, I will continue to take it… probably forever. I come from a family riddled with mental illness. Most of the members of my immediate family are taking (and always will be taking) meds for those illnesses. I am certainly in good company. But I wish it weren’t so. I wanted a future without medication, and it’s been painful to accept the future I’m looking at instead.

Be What You Are

September 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm

I haven’t spent much time online in the past five months. Except for checking email, blogging, and getting on facebook to share my posts and occasionally beg for prayers, I have mostly avoided the Internet. Pretty much everything online exacerbated my anxiety, so it was a necessity to insulate myself.

Now that the benzos are out of my system, it’s amazing how much better I feel. Yay! Note to self: your body and benzos are a bad (bad, bad, bad, bad) mix. Shudder. Anyway… now that I’m feeling better, I’ve been spending (i.e. wasting) more time online. And I started noticing something: I have a bone to pick with the world.

Pinterest world, you’re one of the worst offenders. I kind of want to scream every time I see pins like this:

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Suicide Prevention Week

September 11, 2014 at 5:23 pm

This morning a friend posted this on my facebook profile: “This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Your life makes all the difference. Sending love and hugs.” I didn’t know that this week was National Suicide Prevention Week  until she told me.

Do you know the warning signs of Suicide? The American Association of Suicidology shares this mnemonic:

IS PATH WARM?

I Ideation
S Substance Abuse

P Purposelessness
A Anxiety
T Trapped
H Hopelessness

W Withdrawal
A Anger
R Recklessness
M Mood Changes

I Am a Desert Poppy

September 3, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Back at the end of May, as we were franticly packing up for our sudden early departure to my parents’ house, my mind was scattered with horrific thoughts and images. In those moments, nearly two days without sleep, my body pulsing with panic, I prepared myself to kiss my children good-bye, perhaps for good. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I was sure I was either going to spend the rest of my life in a psychiatric hospital or soon be dead by my own hands.

Then the doorbell rang. A little while later, my husband returned from answering the door, carrying a cheerful-looking basket full of yellow things. Last year, I had brought a friend a “basket of sunshine” when she was stressed-out and struggling, and she said now it was my turn. One of the gifts in her basket was a picture she had painted.

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Choosing Happiness

August 31, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Wednesday night I took a walk by myself. Surviving that day had taken everything I had. I hadn’t slept the night before. I was exhausted in every possible way. As I made my way back home, I started to cry. The words from a song were playing over and over in my head: “How many times can I break till I shatter?” It felt like I had reached my absolute limit. After walking in the door, my quiet tears turned into soul-wracking sobs that didn’t die down for at least an hour.

I don’t know how or why, but that night was a turning point. Whether something shifted inside of me or something shifted somewhere else I don’t know, but something shifted. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were mostly good. I’m having some mild benzo withdrawal symptoms this afternoon, but nothing I can’t handle. Who knows what the coming week+ will bring, but I’m grateful to be spending more time staring at my husband because I’m noticing how very handsome he is rather than staring at him because I’m pleading with my eyes for him to tell me I’m going to be OK.

People often say, “Happiness is a choice.” A part of me wants to instantly reject that notion. If it was really that simple, I wouldn’t be popping an anti-depressant pill every morning and the term “mental illness” wouldn’t exist. But at the same time, a part of me recognizes that it’s true.  Happiness is a result of choices we make.

Endurance

August 26, 2014 at 1:22 am

Tonight I will be cutting my dose again.

As much as I’m eager to leave benzodiazepines behind, it always feels a little bit like voluntarily submitting to torture when I reduce my dose. Generally the next two days are alright. The third… not so much. If the pattern continues, this Thursday should be interesting.

In other news, my sleep is definitely taking a hit. Sunday morning I woke up at 3:45 and couldn’t go back to sleep. This morning I woke up at 3:30, but I was fortunately able to fall back to sleep until 5:00-ish.  When I start catastrophizing, I imagine that I’m going to have some sleepless nights coming up. So far my worst fears haven’t materialized, so I’m hoping the trend continues.

I think it’s safe to say that the past four months have been the most difficult I’ve ever endured. I really hope September will bring mercy. I really hope I don’t have another month+ of withdrawals to look forward to. I really hope the next couple of weeks don’t kill me. <—Did you hear that? That’s called a will to live. It’s nice to have one again. I hope it sticks around. Never take yours for granted, friends.

A Photo Tour

August 20, 2014 at 3:08 am

So far tapering off my night-time dose has gone much smoother than I feared. I’m still getting sleep (thus far). Having my stepmom here over the weekend was a great support. Yesterday was really rough, lots of withdrawals, but today has been much better.

Here’s what my life looks like these days…

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I try to get outside for some sunshine with my feet in the grass at least once a day.

Now More Than Ever

August 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

I know. This is dragging on and on. You’re probably tired of hearing about it. I’m tired of enduring it. But tonight is a big night. Tonight I start tapering off my night-time dose of the benzodiazepine.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I want this drug out of my life and out of my body. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wish I had never allowed this drug into my body. The next few weeks could be really intense. Getting sleep could become a rarity. Things could also go much smoother than I fear. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have no control over what’s going to happen. But I’m terrified. I’ve already endured some pretty horrific withdrawals for the past couple of weeks, and I do not want to experience any more.

I know I’ve already asked for so many prayers, but I need your love and support now more than ever. Things you can do to help me get through this:

  • Send daily emails with encouraging words.
  • Make a meal for my family (if you’re local).
  • Call me (if you have my number).
  • Send me a card in the mail (if you have my address).
  • Post an encouraging comment on this post.
  • Pray for me.
  • Do whatever other nice thing you feel inspired to do.

My psychologist stepmom is flying in tonight to help give me extra support until Monday. Then my mom will be flying in Tuesday through Thursday. I have lots of local friends who are doing a remarkable job of supporting me as well. I feel like it’s taking a pretty big village to keep me going.

The other night my almost-11-year-old daughter told me she wants a tree necklace for her birthday (a little over a month away). I really hope I’m smiling and anxiety-free when I give it to her.

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Yes, You Can

August 12, 2014 at 12:23 am

I’m still here.

Still battling withdrawals. They’re still brutal. I never really know when a withdrawal episode will hit or how long it will last. Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes a few hours. The good news is that once the panic subsides, I usually go back to a baseline of relative calm.

I feel like the SSRI is helping a little more each day. Today my husband was working later, but I made dinner all by myself… something I haven’t been able to do for a long time. That feels like a small victory. I have been spending most mornings and some afternoons at various friends’ houses (it helps pass the time/I don’t like to be alone), and I’m able to smile and mostly enjoy being with them when I’m not having a “withdrawal episode.” That feels like progress. Last night I went to an important meeting I didn’t think I would be capable of attending and felt calm while I was there. That was a gift.

But I’m not done with this battle. I still have to wean off my night-time dose of the benzodiazepene. I have no idea how my body is going to respond to that. But the only way out is through. I wish I could skip the rest of August.

More than once during my withdrawal episodes, eyes full of panic and desperation, I have told my husband, “I can’t do this.” He always says the same thing, “Yes, you can.” And I try to believe him.

 

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