Where is God?

Most days I ask myself where is God in all of this?

Well I just haven’t been looking very hard for Him because He is everywhere. He is in every single detail. He works through my boyfriend. He works through my pastor. He calls to me on the days where I’m unable to crawl off the couch and He comforts me. He is always there. Always.

So where is God in all of this? Just look around.

Support System

I don’t know what I would do without my support system.

My very small close knit to me circle of people is astronomically important to me. They get it. They deal with their own mental chaos as well and they don’t drop me when I accidentally go four months living as a shut in because I can’t find the strength to leave the house let alone answer my phone.

But, while I’m drowning they’re praying. They’re making sure I’m alive. They’re waiting. And when I resurface from survival mode they’re there. No questions asked.

And I don’t know what I would do without them. I hope I am able to love them and support them as much as they do for me.

When you are going through the highs and lows of life and of mental illness there is nothing more important than your relationship with the Lord and your support system of people who love you and the Lord. That combination is my rock.

My support system reminds me to go to God, they challenge me to read my Bible and take a shower and get out of the house. They encourage me to call my doctor and actually be honest with him about how I’m doing.

Sticking to my treatment plan has been so incredibly difficult. But each time I fall off the horse they are there to help me get back up.

I can’t do this alone. Mental health is not something you go through alone. You go through it with your doctor, support system, and God.

I’m Fine

One moment I’m fine. I’m happy. I’m going through my day like a normal functioning adult. I’m taking my meds, and not the emergency ones, just the maintenance ones. I can go to social functions with little difficulty.

….and the next I feel like I’m drowning, suffocating, being attacked from all sides, yet so completely alone.

I feel defeated. Ready to give up. Sobbing in a crumpled mess, unable to get up off the couch because I’m devastated and exhausted.

I just don’t know why. I feel like a failure. A burden. A screw up. I can’t do anything right. I’m not supposed to be happy.

Everything inside of me dies.

I fall asleep from the exhaustion of the fight in my own head and the next question is will I wake up completely fine? Or will the feelings of mental devastation roll over to the next day?

This battle within me is a never ending tidal wave going back and forth. Back and forth.

People say I’m just not relying on God. My doctor says I need to up my medication. I tell myself to just give in to the hurt. Give in to the mental battle and give up.

I can’t give up though. Because right now I’m in the middle of a good moment. I want to keep fighting to live a life dedicated to serving the Lord and loving those around me.

So I refuse to let myself give up even when everything inside of me is sick of fighting.

I pray the turmoil inside of me subside even the tiniest bit so I can see the light. I pray I can see God’s hand when I’m on the floor and can’t breathe. I pray I continue to fight. Continue to encourage others to fight. And continue to seek the Lord. He isn’t done with me yet.

Reactive

My good mental health days usually start out beautifully. Imagine I’m knitting a gorgeous blanket, I’m getting so far and accomplishing so much and it’s just going so smoothly. And then a hiccup happens. A bump in the road. Something happens that severely upsets my good mental health day. I begin to unravel. That blanket I’ve been knitting all day quickly goes from a perfectly knitted project to a pile of destroyed yarn on the floor. With me collapsed on top of it in a heap of depressed sobbing. I can’t function.

I don’t know why I do this. My psych has explained it so many times to me, and we work on finding meds that help with my reactions and my ability to handle situations, handle messing up, handle being yelled at, but sometimes, almost all the time, my beautiful mental health day goes from a stunning blanket to a heap of yarn that can’t be salvaged.

I didn’t used to be this way. I used to be able to be a boss over every situation that came my way. I would see a potential problem and jump at the opportunity to fix it but now I crumple and it kills me. This isn’t who I am. I am not someone who breaks apart at the slightest inconvenience. I am not someone who can’t handle a plate overflowing with things that need to be done.

The girl I see in the mirror the past few years? I don’t recognize her at all. She isn’t me.

PTSD

When I was diagnosed with PTSD and a non hereditary exaggerated startle response I almost laughed, I had never even considered that other traumatic events in my life could lead to post traumatic stress disorder. My response was, “I was never in the military, so that can’t be right.” I was not educated enough to know that more people than just those who have served in the military can have PTSD.

My triggers may look different than yours because my traumatic experiences may be different. But loud sudden noises are a big trigger for me. A big sudden noise elicits an unpleasant response within me. I jump, my heart jumps, and need to take a minute to catch my breath. Dog barking is an immediate intense trigger when continuous elicits aggravation within me. I can’t explain it. I don’t know why. But continuous dog barking makes my skin burn and my insides are shrieking in panic.

Being touched is also a huge trigger for me. I don’t exactly know why but I get that feeling of panic and my skin burning. I feel fear and am instantly looking for an escape from the situation.

However, through dealing with this PTSD for the past 4 years I have been able to help others work through their PTSD triggers and talk with them about their mental health. So it’s been a good and bad thing. I enjoy the ability to help others with this and grow closer to the Lord together.

All we can do is find peace in our lives, find reasons to move past this, get help for our mental help, and rely on the Lord.

You Don’t Have To Live In The Pit

Oh the pit of mental disorders. Mental illnesses are nasty conniving liars. They tell you that everyone is out to get you, that the worst thing that could (or even couldn’t) possibly happen is bound to happen, they tell you that you are worthless, your life has no meaning, no worth, and no purpose, and no one likes you. They keep you up at night and they make you sleep too much. There is no in between. They give you unavoidable tendencies that make life a living nightmare. You establish unhealthy coping mechanisms just to get through the day because of them. They remind you of everything you’ve ever said or done that you aren’t too happy with yourself over. They tell you that you will never amount to anything. They tell you not to bother. Just sit this one out. Sit it all out. It isn’t even worth trying so why bother?

Mental disorders are best friends. When you have multiple diagnoses they are working together against you. Anxiety disorders are a constant hair raising whisper and a deafening scream all at once. Depression disorders keep you in the place that anxiety disorders tell you not to move from. Anxiety disorders tell you to not leave your bed because all of the worst case scenarios that play over and over in your head will happen if you step foot onto your bedroom floor and depression will keep you there. OCD and PTSD will refuse to give up the fight to let you live a normal life. One minor thing could happen to set off your PTSD and your entire day is ruined. You wanted a normal day? Well too bad. You aren’t going to get one.

There are so many of these binding and crippling mental illnesses that litter society and are never talked about. Suicide is mourned, yet depression is silenced. And when these life destroying disorders are left not talked about and untreated they can lead to a pit filled with darkness and despair with no hope of escaping. They can lead to self destruction and destruction of everything you love in your life. They can lead to lives taken too soon. Mental illnesses should not be silenced. They should not be kept in the dark. They should not be hidden. They should be treated. The thing with mental illness is you need to constantly work on it. It’s not one of those things you can ignore and hope it goes away. Ignorance leads to growth which leads to a less hopeful process of healing and treatment.

Do not be dismayed, do not rest in the feeling of defeat and loneliness because there is hope for us. There is bountiful overflowing amount of hope for everyone who suffers from a mental illness. Over the next four weeks I am going to focus on mental health and finding ways to stick to treatment instead of running and hiding from it. We are only as strong as we think we are. And with the right team and treatment plan we can all find a life filled with genuine happiness, fantastic mental health, and hope. Let’s get out of this pit.

Losing Hope

*deep sigh*

Sometimes healing doesn’t seem to be healing, it is backwards and messy and lonely. It feels like I’m not making any progress but instead I’m hurting more than I was before. Instead of progressing and working through the pain I shove it down and power through. Or shove it down and completely shut down.

Healing isn’t possible in the shut down phase. The shut down phase is scary and dark and I don’t like it. But it’s so hard to pull myself out of the shut down phase. It’s comfortable in the darkness. It’s comfortable not falling apart in front of someone. It’s comfortable to not ask for help.

I’ve shut out God during the past 5 months. I’ve gone in and out of shut down mode but I haven’t been truly real with Him. I’m not even trying. I’m just exhausted. The anxiety leads to depression which leads to overall exhaustion. I’m in the dark depths of that right now, cycling through excuses and anxiety and depression and shutting myself off from the world and God. I don’t manage my own emotions very well.

I find it significantly easier to help others navigate their pain and heartache and mental health rather than take even a second out of my day to take a look inside my own head. The moment I step out of the shut down phase and look in the mirror at the gravity of the situation is the moment I need to address my mental health and the heartbreak I’ve been avoiding working through. And I don’t want to. I don’t feel strong enough. And I can’t bring myself to wave that flag of surrender.

People Person

I have always considered myself an introvert. Social situations have always drained me, and being by myself or with my man recharges me. On a good day I would call myself an ambivert…like a very good day.

ambivert
[ˈambəˌvərt]

NOUN
psychology
a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features

But something’s changed…this quarantine has changed me. We are officially in the yellow phase (can I get a whoop whoop?) and that means the start of gathering once more. I met up with a friend yesterday at the lake, and this morning at another friend’s house, and then again this afternoon outside at a coffee shop. I’m energized and excited for life.

What happened to me? Have I just been so deprived of human interaction that I’m absorbing all social interaction I can get my hands on? Will this subside? Will I go back to being an introvert? Who knows. All I know is I’m happy and I love people. I don’t actually feel depressed right now. And I’m ready to see some more friends. Gasp…have I become a …. people person? As of right now I think that answer is a big fat YES.

This is exciting news. My prayer is that this continues.

Lord, Be My Strength

Anyone who has depression understands the disconnect from responsibility that happens far too often. During these lows you neglect tasks that need to be done because you can’t even begin to think about getting out of bed or doing anything that might require a thought process. There is a total shut down that happens. And I encourage that behavior. I despise it. But I allow it. I enable it for as long as I need to. But I am so done with that mindset. I’m furious with myself for becoming this person who gives in to their mental illness. I live my life in a constant state of anxiety, denial, and disconnect. And I’m done.

Important mail piles up, piles pile up, laundry doesn’t get done, my floor becomes a pathway of items instead of a floor. The house can be completely clean and dishes need to be done…but I can’t function enough to keep my own room organized. My room becomes a direct product of my depression.

I’m breaking up with my depression. I’m breaking up with avoiding my psychiatrist. I’m breaking up with the inability to keep my life together. This week is the beginning of the new me. I am NOT my depression. I am NOT my anxiety. Or my PTSD. I am Kait. I am a daughter of God. I am a fully capable woman who can handle life without giving in to my diagnosis. Not only handle life but dominate it. And not because I am strong. Not because I am able. I’m not. I am fully aware of my own shortcomings, trust me. But I can do all things through God who gives me strength.

I will start my day talking with the Lord, and continue my day talking with Him. I will get ahead of this illness. I will take my meds. I will meet with my psych on a regular basis. I will not give in to the behaviors of my illnesses. I refuse to be that person. It is not who I am.

The Joy of the Lord

I can only describe this time as bittersweet. Today marks 77 days since my last day at work and my heart aches for my little one I take care of. I miss everything about being a pediatric care tech and am counting the seconds until I can return to work.

I miss normalcy. I miss teaching preschoolers on Sunday mornings. I miss meeting with the students on Sunday nights. I miss going out for coffee with my friends. I miss going out with my man after a long work week and just staring into each other’s eyes over a candlelit dinner (yeah yeah…we can still do this, but our dog isn’t the best waiter). I miss the mundane and I miss the crazy. There are so many things I took for granted that I completely ache for now.

But I am so ridiculously blessed. I haven’t personally lost anyone in this pandemic, but I know so many who have. Financially, I am struggling in this time of being laid off, but God has abundantly provided every time I have needed. Mentally, I am hanging in there, I’m blessed with a “team” of support when it comes to my mental health so my heart goes out to those who are feeling the depths of depression during this time. I pray that they are being supported and loved during this trying time.

Joy has been found in the Lord across the world in this pandemic. My students are flourishing in their own personal walks with God. They are encouraging one another, they are taking to social media to hold virtual Bible studies, and they are sending cards and flowers to those who need it. They are thriving and they are creative in their own personal study of the Word. I am so proud of each and every one of them for how amazingly they are handling their senior year of high school. I have seen my preschool parents post the fun things their kiddos are doing, from climbing trees, to making posters to hang out of their cars for a drive-by birthday party, to making their parents breakfast in bed. My friends and I are doing check-ins with each other…just to let each other know we are here and we are praying for one another. So many virtual hugs and “coffee vibes” have been sent out. Relationships are being built stronger than ever before. I am seeing God in all of this. I am seeing Him work in ways I haven’t seen before and that is so encouraging.

The church is not a building. The church is people continuing the ministry of Christ. The church is people reaching out those who need a conversation. The church is meals being delivered. The church is drive-by conversations held 6 feet apart with masks on. The church is responding to this time in such a beautiful way that only God could orchestrate. And I’m blown away.

So continue to spread the joy of the Lord during this time, it is so very needed.