The Truth is…I Relapsed

Almost five years ago, I began the journey to recovery from bulimia.

The truth is…recovery is beautiful.

The truth is…recovery is possible.

The truth is…life is much more fulfilling without having an eating disorder disrupt your every thought.

The truth is…life throws curve balls at you at time.

The truth is…I relapsed.

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Do you struggle with feeling depressed and hopeless about life? The answer may be more simple than you think. To JUMPSTART your life, follow this link:
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Six Things I Wish I Knew About Grief

It’s no secret that the last year of my life has been the hardest year that I’ve had to walk through.  Navigating my way through grief was not an easy journey and I still find myself having to ask, “am I doing this right?”  Looking back, there are a few things that I wish I knew about grief before I was forced to walk through it.

  1. It Hurts like Hell.  Losing my niece was to date the most painful experience I have had to walk through.  I remember the days following her death where I would grab my chest because the pain felt so heavy upon me.  My entire body felt like I was hit by a truck and simple tasks felt like burdens. Grief is so heavy that your physical body begins to ache from the emotional toll and there are moments when you don’t know if you’ll be able to make it through the day, but you will. You always will.

  2. It Can’t Be Avoided. After my niece died, my introverted habits suddenly disappeared and I found myself wanting to constantly be around people.  At the time, my current roommate and I were having to share a bedroom until we were able to find a house, so even then I wasn’t alone.  I found that if I was around someone that I didn’t have to face the pain that was raging inside of me.  After a few weeks of suppressing my emotions, they would surface without warning.  In the middle of the mall, the checkout line in Target, or at the bank while I was making deposits for work where I felt I would have to apologize to whomever was helping me and explain that my niece just passed away.  About a month later my grandpa passed away and I was now not only grieving the loss of my niece, but also my grandpa whom was like a second father to me during my childhood. It was then that I decided to embrace the pain, no matter how hard it felt, I had to give myself permission to be a complete wreck if I needed to be. I didn’t care if my sadness made other people uncomfortable because letting it out meant that I was giving my heart and my pain a voice.

  3. Grief Makes People Uncomfortable. As a culture, we’ve learned to look at pain as a bad thing. Have a headache? Take a tylenol.  Having a bad day? Go to happy hour.  We want a quick fix.  Unfortunately when it comes to emotional pain such as grief, the only way out is through and sometimes that can be a very long and dark road.  I found in my own journey that many people wanted me to bounce right back to normal and declare that “God is good” despite my sadness.  They didn’t want to know that I was struggling with why God allowed her to die or how to manage my anger towards Him.  They were quick to throw “spiritual Tylenol” as I like to call it at me and quote scripture about the goodness of God.  The problem with that is I felt like my process and my emotions were not being validated. It’s like saying to someone who’s crying because they broke their arm “Stop crying! Your leg is completely fine!” People don’t always know how to respond to other people’s pain and they may say things that hurt you.  Just know that at the end of the day, their heart is only to love and help you.  Sometimes they just need a little direction in how to do so. 

  4. There is No Right Way to Grieve.  I have a high D personality meaning that I like to be productive and I like to do things the correct way the first time.  It’s hard for me to not have a set answer or solution for something, so when first going through the process of grieving, I found myself constantly stressed that I was “doing it wrong.”  I found myself thinking, “It’s been three weeks, should I still feel this sad? Should I be in the acceptance stage? Should I be putting all my emotional distress into something more productive like working out or volunteering at a charity?? Why is it still a struggle to get out of bed?” The truth is, there is no right or wrong way to grieve and the cliché is true that everybody grieves differently.  I finally had to get to the point where I stopped over analyzing where I was at and just allowed myself to be wherever I needed to be in the moment.  Some days I needed to veg out on the couch watching Scandal for hours on end while saving the world vicariously through Olivia Pope, and some days I needed to paint my nails and go to dinner with my girlfriends. Whatever my heart needed, I allowed myself to be okay with that.

  5. Anger is Part of the Journey. I’ll never forget the moment that my mom called me to tell me that Abby had died.  It was a Friday afternoon and I had about an hour left of my shift at work. I answered the phone and the words, “Rihanna, we lost Abby” came flying out of her mouth and I calmly said “Ok” and hung up. It was a strange reaction, but I have a tendency to resort to becoming very calm when something scares or shocks me.  I grabbed my purse and as I walked to my car I began to violently shake. Anger, shock, and disbelief all came over me as I began to yell at God, “Are you f—ing kidding me? Is this a joke to you?!”  I felt like the world was spinning and the rage and anger just continued to pour out of me.  Although the initial rage soon subsided, I found myself still battling feeling anger and resentment towards God. The weeks following, I found myself at a church conference where people were being healed left and right from various illnesses. Anger began to rise within me and I knew that in that moment, I had a choice.  I could choose to partner with resentment or I could surrender my desire to understand and celebrate the healings surrounding me.  At first, I felt unauthentic but over time God began to heal that part of my heart that only needed reassurance that God still saw me. 

  6. God is Faithful in the Process. It’s been a little over ten months since Abby left us and 8 months since my Poppa joined her.  There were times when I felt like I would never fully heal or ever feel close to God again.  However, having to walk this journey has showed me levels and parts of God that I never knew existed previously.  In the times when I felt overlooked or forgotten, His sweet presence wrapped itself around me and carried me through.  I wish that I never had to walk this journey, but at the same time I wouldn’t trade the moments I had with God through this for anything in the world.  

Grief is painful.  It cuts us to our core and forces us to look inwardly and face who we are and what we believe.  If I could go back and tell myself anything before having to walk this journey it would be this: you’re going to make it through.

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If you liked this post, you may also like When I Stopping Believing in God and I Stopped Believing in Prayer

Out of Hiding

 

One thing that I used to take pride in is my inclination towards independence.  My mother claims that I was her most difficult child to raise due to my desire to want to do everything myself.  Stop me from wearing my Dorothy inspired red-glittered shoes everywhere I went (including camping)? She dared not.

There’s a part of me that loves my independent spirit because it gave me the courage to do things and experience life differently than some of my peers.  It allowed me to try to go after my dreams at a young age and be unafraid to travel and wander alone.  However over time, it also became a form of self-defense.  A wall to keep people from getting too close.  Hurt me?  You can’t.  I’m independent and will move on just fine.  I remember when my boyfriend, who I was convinced was the love of my life, broke up with me.  Inside, I was devastated and felt like my world was being turned upside down, but I sat still and silent without showing any sort of emotion.  He seemed surprised by my lack of emotion and asked if I was even sad about this.  “I’ll be fine” I said.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is allow people to see our pain.  We live in a culture where everyone wants to be seen as “strong” and “self-sufficient” to the point where we neglect and avoid our feelings and emotional needs.

This last year has forced me to come to terms with just how my desire to be independent was actually destroying me.  When my niece, Abby, was born and the emotional rollercoaster of her life began, my first inclination was to pull away from my friends.  I felt afraid, confused, and overall just a mess.  I avoided my friend’s phone calls and attempts to hang out and used the excuse “I’m just going through a lot and I need to be alone.”

 Translation: I’m not as strong as I thought I was and I don’t want you to actually see me.

Being seen is scary.  Allowing another person to really see you – the good, the bad, the mess ups, the irrational fears, the mood swings, the failures and the brokenness can leave you feeling exposed.  It’s laying yourself out and saying, “This is me. This is what I have to offer. Take it or leave it.”  It’s allowing that other person to make a decision as to whether they are going to embrace it or walk away.  I finally had to come to a point where I realized that taking the risk to be seen would be less scary than living in hiding for the rest of my life.  A friend once said to me, “You can take a risk to be loved and I can’t guarantee that you will receive it.  But I can guarantee that you will never be loved if you don’t take the risk.”

I took the risk. Thankfully, I have a beautiful group of friends that have the ability to see every part of me and take me as is.  Being seen made me realize that my failures and shortcomings only made up a small part of me and that I was actually so much more than my mistakes.

Once I allowed myself to come out of hiding, that’s when I began to find myself.

Will I Ever Forgive God?

Yesterday started out like every other Sunday for me.  Sleep in, enjoy a lazy morning, and then begin getting ready for church.  As I was going about my morning, I checked Facebook and clicked on the “On This Day” notification where it showed me everything I posted on the same day in years past.  Most days, it will make me cringe, laugh, or feel some sort of nostalgia.  Yesterday, it made me angry.

A year ago yesterday, I posted this photo:

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This is a photo of my sister and brother-in-law getting to hold their daughter, Abby, for only the second time in her two months of life.  Given her fragility and the ventilator, they were unable to have contact with her other than touching her through her NICU bed.  I remember crying when I received the photos and the hope that filled my heart as I realized that she might actually get the miracle we had been praying for.

It’s been almost six months since Abby left us.  A day hasn’t passed when I haven’t wondered why she didn’t get her miracle.  What could we have done differently?

When I saw this photo yesterday, the same one that once gave me hope and renewed my faith, I quickly clicked off of Facebook and went about my morning.  Within minutes,  everything was frustrating me.  My hair. My clothes. My body. The fact that I was having to go to church.  My roommate, who can always sense when anything is even slightly off with me, was convinced she had done something to upset me. I assured her that it wasn’t her and that I truely had no idea why I was so upset.

Once we got to church, we stood in the back as the worship played and I kept thinking about the photo of my sister holding her baby who is now gone.  The eight months of Abby’s life kept playing over and over in my head. All the highs when we thought she was making progress, as well as the lows when we thought we would lose her.  I replayed the day I received the phone call from my mom letting me know that we lost her. The moments and days that followed her death as we all tried to navigate our way in a world that looked vastly different than it did just days before.  As I unsuccessfully tried to stop myself from crying, I looked at my roommate and said, “I am so angry Abby is gone.  I’m so angry that my sister had to lose her child.”

The rest of the day went on as I tried to almost will myself to not feel angry anymore. I felt so much shame and guilt over the fact that I still feel anger towards God for not healing her.  Isn’t this the part where I can hold my head high like a good Christian and say that my heart is healed and whole again? The part where the paralyzing fear of losing someone else I love finally ceases?

I took a long drive late last night and I finally cried for the first time in a few months.  I realized that it’s okay that I feel angry.  It’s okay that I feel confused. It’s okay to feel at peace with God one moment and upset in the next.  A piece of my heart was taken from me when Abby left and just like any other wound, it needs time to fully heal.

“I will trust
Here in the mystery
I will trust
In You completely

Awake my soul to sing
With Your breath in me
I will worship
You taught my feet
To dance upon disappointment
And I, I will worship” -Heroes by Amanda Cook

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I Stopped Believing in Prayer

It was late October and just a few weeks after my niece passed away.  After I returned back to Redding from the funeral, my roommate and I had just one month to find a new place to live.  Day after day we searched for apartments and houses and before we knew it, we had just over a week before we had to have our stuff out of our apartment.  It was stressful and frustrating as each place we felt had potential continued to fall through for various reasons.

We had just gotten news, once again, that the place we wanted was no longer available.  I called a close friend and began sharing with her how I felt overwhelmed at the thought of being homeless and I was considering paying a visit to findmeasugardaddy.com to see if some lonely millionaire needed company.

“Ok, I am going to get off the phone right now and pray and see what God says” she replied.

I left out a little laugh and thought “well what good is that?”

The thought came and went to quickly and naturally that I almost missed it.  I hung up the phone and I thought about what had just happened in my heart when she mentioned prayer.  As I sat in my car I said out loud, “God, I stopped believing you hear my prayers.”

My heart had been so broken and let down after we lost Abby.  It was 11 months of constant and continual prayer for her healing.  Most nights, I would wake up just to roll over and my first thought would be, “Lord, please heal Abby.”

For eleven months, there wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t praying. When we lost Abby, I lost belief in prayer.

I began to think back over the weeks that had passed since Abby had passed.  It’s not that I had stopped praying, but I stopped believing that my prayers would do anything. Prayer, in my heart, became almost like a wish. I would say the things I wanted to say and ask the things I wanted to ask and just hope that maybe, maybe God will get around to hearing them if I’m lucky.

As I sat in my car outside my apartment, I closed my eyes.  I knew that I had a choice to make.  I could continue on my life with the belief that my prayers don’t matter; viewing my chances of having my prayers answered in the same way I viewed winning the lottery. That would be the easy choice. Or, I could look at the defeat I was facing in the eyes and say, “You do not have a say anymore.”

Do I still have moments when I feel afraid that my prayers aren’t being heard? Absolutely. But I refuse to allow defeat come between me and my maker any longer.

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If you like this post, you might also like I Don’t Want to Worship God and Miracles Don’t Exist

The Year My World Fell Apart and Other 2015 Musings

Life is many things.  Talk to any number of people and each will give you a different as to what life means to them.

Exciting.

Disappointing.

Confusing.

An adventure.

Sad.

Life is many things. But one thing is for certain, it is never boring. I recently saw a meme floating around the internet that said, “Life is looking both ways before crossing the street only to be hit by an airplane.”

I think we can all attest to that.

The first word that comes to mind when I reflect on 2015 is heartbreaking.  2015 hurt a lot.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that since my niece passed in September, I have yet to have a day where I haven’t cried.  Some days I might cry all day, only moving from my bed to the couch. Other days, I’ll be going about my day just fine when it will just hit me and I’ll find myself hiding in the restroom at work trying to pull myself together.

2015 was hard.  But behind the tears, grief, and heartache, it was also beautiful. I’ve learned many things and this is where I share them with you.

  1. I learned to trust my instincts.  Have you ever met a new person and you get this sense that something isn’t quite right? For me, that happened a few times this year.  I didn’t listen to that check inside and found myself on the other side of the relationship hurt.  Instincts are there for a reason. Learn to listen.
  2. I learned after watching the What Do You Mean music video that it is possible to be physically attracted to Justin Bieber and that it feels as wrong as it sounds. I’ll understand if this confession leads to you unfollow me.
  3. I learned that grief makes you do strange things.  It made me walk from my sister’s house to the beach alone, crying and sweating.  It made me walk right into the ocean with all my clothes on, not caring how ridiculous I looked because I just wanted to feel something, anything other than what I was feeling. Grief made me stop at a green light without realizing what I was doing, only to just sit there in shock, unable to move even after I realized that I was sitting at a standstill at a green light.  Grief is hard, and it’s weird.
  4. I learned that even if you are the girl that has been doomed to eternal singledom that finding true love still is possible. This life lesson is brought to you by Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux. Thank you, you beautiful love birds you.
  5. I learned that sometimes, your prayers don’t get answered.
  6. I learned that even when your prayers don’t get answered, God is still close.  The days following my niece’s death, I felt as though everything I thought I knew about God was destroyed.  My world shattered God didn’t come through the way we wanted.  I wondered if He even existed. On my way to Miami for the funeral, I sat in the airport and in my heart asked God to prove to me that He exists and as a test of his existence, I wanted him to show me a red balloon that day.  When I got to my sister’s house, I walked into her bathroom and sitting on the counter was a red balloon.
  7. I learned that death brings healing.  Sitting bedside to my poppa, watching him take his last breaths was one of the most excruciating and painful experiences of my life.  Yet there was a presence and a peace that I had never felt before.  As painful as it was for me, I could feel his spirit finally being at peace.  In a strange way, his death brought healing to the pain I was feeling after losing my niece not even two months prior.  The presence of God was so strong in those moments of death; and even though I couldn’t explain in, it was as if I finally knew He was close again.
  8. I learned that 95% of what we stress and worry about has absolutely no meaning.  After losing people you love, you realize that everything else is not nearly as important as you once thought.
  9. I learned that Israeli massage therapists have no regard for personal modesty.  None.
  10. I learned that in the hard times, you’ll be hurt by the people you expected to stand by you and they didn’t.  You’ll also be amazed at the people who stepped up and stood by your side no matter how hard your process became. No matter how sad, depressed, or hopeless you felt, they were there.

As you can see, 2015 was a hard year.  I learned a lot of lessons that I would have preferred to have never had to learn, but I know that in the end, God is faithful to redeem. My process from 2015 will probably bleed into 2016 and that’s ok.  Unlike previous years, I’m not interested in running full speed into 2016 with goals and aspirations in mind.  I’m only interested in finding the girl that survived 2015 and allowing her to sift through the rubble and find the treasures that the journey left behind for her.

I’m only interested in moving forward.

Goodbye 2015.  You will forever hold the memories and the final breaths of two people I very dearly loved. You’ll forever be the year where I learned that anything outside of love is only a waste of time; and for that, I am forever grateful.

 If you liked this post, you might also like Miracles Don’t Exist and I Don’t Want to Worship God.

"Miracles Don't Exist"

Earlier this week I received a phone call from my mom who was upset because of news she had regarding Abby. Within two hours, I was standing at the airport with a ticket in hand bringing me to Miami. 

I’ve always had a tendency to allow fear to overtake my mind when faced in a crisis. I was given a brilliant imagination which at times can torment me if left unmanaged. The entire flight, I fought tears both successfully and unsuccessfully. After 17 hours of travel and only an hour and a half of sleep, I finally got to meet my beautiful niece, Abby. 

She was beautiful. From her light blonde hair to her tiny toes. She resembled so much of both her mother and her father. She was perfect. 

Except she wasn’t. 

Her tiny body attached to tubes, needles, and chords as a ventilator helped her breath in and out, all of which stands as a reminder that God hasn’t yet healed her.  

Anger, joy, resentment, fear and adoration all flowed through me as I looked into her incubator and openly began to cry. 

I reached my hand in and touched her frail, yet strong body. My heart ached as I wished I could take her place. 

It isn’t fair. A newborn having to fight so hard to stay alive. 

Throughout my visit that day and the next, I would touch her sweet face while I’d pray over her, talk to her, and sing to her. I’d tell her how strong she is and how I can’t wait until she can go home. I told her Bible stories of Jesus and how he healed every person he came into contact with. I sang worship songs that declared God’s goodness and faithfulness over her. 

I would pray. I’d stand firm and declare that all sickness must leave. I’d ask God to heal her. I’d beg for him. Then I’d just stand in silence and stare at her. Wondering if God was even listening. 

Then I heard it whispered ever so softly to me, “miracles don’t exist.”

I admit, I wanted to agree with it. My mind began to race as I thought about how I just spent four years in ministry school learning about the healing powers of God.  I’ve witnessed miracles myself and have even seen a crippled mans leg grow out right before my eyes. Where is that power now? What if miracles don’t exist anymore? What if it’s just the luck of the draw for us? Why after 4 years of ministry school can I not help save my niece?

I then remembered a quote that I’ve heard Bill Johnson say multiple times. “Believing a lie empowers the liar.”

 In that moment, I knew I had a choice. I had power to give away and it was up to me if I wanted to give that to the accuser or the Redeemer. 

Abby has already been a miracle. To deny miracles would be to deny the very reason she is with us. I looked over her body and watched her chest go up and down…up and down…up and down and I knew I was witnessing a miracle. I looked at Abby with tears streaming down my face and said “Let’s choose Jesus, sweet girl. You’re going to be healed.”

We don’t always get to choose what happens to us, but in those moments we still always have a choice. I can’t wait for the day when I can tell Abby about the time I flew hundreds of miles to see her and how she helped me choose Jesus. 

  

Life After an Eating Disorder

Two years.

730 days.

Countless Prayers.

More tears than I would like to admit.

More dreams awakened than I knew possible.

I’ve come a long way in two years.  If you had told me two years ago that I would be recovered from bulimia, I wouldn’t have believed you.  I would want to… oh how I would have wanted so badly to believe that I could be free from this monster that had stolen everything from me.  But I wouldn’t.

But isn’t that the beauty of who Jesus is…we don’t always have to believe.  God’s redemptive power isn’t dependent on our believing.  Thank goodness for that.

Someone recently asked me what it feels like to be two years into recovery.  The first year was this high of overcoming obstacles and I felt as though I was sprinting this ridiculously exciting and crazy whirlwind of a race.  Every day felt like a victory to be celebrated.  It was beautiful and thrilling.

Going into year two was a bit different. I had already known I was free from the bulimia, but now I had to learn how to live again.  I had to learn who I was apart from the eating disorder.  I would be lying if I said it was easy, because it was not.  I still had hard moments where I latched onto the belief that the way I look is directly related to who I am and who I am called to be.  I had to begin weeding through my life and removing the things and the people who depended on my insecurity to make them feel secure.

It sometimes felt like I was learning how to walk again.  The first year was about experiencing a new sense of freedom that I never knew existed and now I had to learn how to sustain it.

I am so thankful for the patience of God.

I often times will go back to this blog post I wrote a little over two years ago on a bulimia recovery website to remind myself go how far I have come.  It brings me to tears as I remember so clearly the moment in which I had written these words with tears streaming down my face.  I remember feeling I had lost all hope but thinking that maybe…maybe I could still have a chance at life.  Maybe this wasn’t the end.

 June 1, 2012

It’s been 10 years. 10 years ago I was an insecure 16 year old who was lost in this new world of bulimia.

I wish I could go back and tell that little, precious 16 year old girl that she was okay…that she didn’t need laxatives or to throw up to get rid of the food. That she didn’t need a diet, a gym buddy, or just motivation. I wish I could go back and tell her that there is no shame in enjoying food. I wish I could tell her where she would find herself in 10 years if she didn’t say no.

You see, I never thought I would end up here. I thought that once I lost weight then I would be able to not obsess over food. But no matter my weight, size, or appearance…it’s always there. It’s always lingering, taunting me like “You can look away but I’ll always be here.”

Sometimes I make it through the entire day eating healthy and I feel like I’ve conquered the world! Then I crave something sweet. Okay, just one cookie is ok. I deserve it. It won’t hurt. This is recovery. Then one cookie leads to two. Two leads to three. Three leads to all the cookies. Then ice cream. Then left over pasta. Then peanut butter and jelly. Then granola bars. Then panic. That’s when I walk in the bathroom, lock the door behind me, turn on the faucet, and then stare in the toilet. Sometimes I look at my reflection and pray that I’ll see Jesus’ face. Jesus, please…just show me your face and I’ll be free forever. I stare hard trying to make my eyes see something that doesn’t ever appear. Stalling. I don’t want to throw up. But I have to. So it starts. My eyes water, my stomach constricts and I begin my routine. I try to measure with my eyes how much I throw up and try to match the things coming up with what I ate. I throw up until it’s all gone or until I can’t throw up anymore. At this point, I cry out to God and repent. But most times, I repeat the process within a few minutes. I can’t control myself. Something else controls me. When I look in the mirror, I look tired. Even in pictures I feel like I don’t look like myself. When I smile in pictures, I look to see that it’s only a slight grin. I’m afraid that I have lost my looks.

I’m 26. I want to get married someday. I want to have children. I want to record my music and reach out to people. I want to go to lunch with my friends and meet for coffee without thinking of anything other than the people I am with. I want to be able to look my parents in the eyes and have a normal conversation with them. I want to be able to be around them without feeling ashamed and angry. I want freedom. I want to walk in the promises and the destiny that Jesus has laid out for me.

Satan laughs every time I fall into his destiny and his dreams for me. But I plan to turn the tables. I plan on being free.

I wish I could go back to the girl who wrote that and tell her of all the exciting and beautiful moments that she was about to encounter.  I would tell her that no one is out of the reach of God.  That not one of her tears has gone unnoticed or unseen.  I would tell her that life was just about to unfold.

I remember pleading with God to heal me and promising if He healed me, I would give my life to seeing other girls get set free.  I can’t help but speak about the reality of freedom because I once was among the ones who believed that it couldn’t possibly exist on this side of Heaven.

But freedom exists…It so beautifully exists and I am honored to be proof of that.

 Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”  Neil Gaiman

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Depression doesn't have to be fatal

It’s been a sad few days on the internet this week.

As you all know, tragedy has struck Hollywood once again and the world is left shocked as the news of Robin Williams’ suicide spread like wildfire.

Blogs, news articles, and various media streams have tried to process the unanswered mystery as to why someone who held the hearts of so many would take their own life.

Didn’t he know how loved he was?

What did he have to run from?

What was there to be so unhappy about?

Why didn’t he talk to someone?

It was a known fact that Mr. Williams struggled with depression and addiction.  A deadly combination that has claimed the lives of so many.  The problem with depression is that it never makes sense. Sure sometimes it can be situational but generally,  there is no rhyme or reason to it.

As someone who once was diagnosed with severe depression and addiction, I know that feeling all too well.

I was only 19 and I sat across from my therapist and doctor in a small, cold nursing office with my mind in a fog as they tried to convince me that I needed to go on anti-depressants.

I couldn’t go on anti-depressants.  I refused to be classified as “depressed.”  Only the sad, pitiful, and deadbeats of our society were on anti-depressants. Or so I thought because you see, no one really talked about it.

After a few days of their pleading, I finally relented and there began my process of trying every mix of whatever pill cocktail they thought would help me.

I lived in a deep state of shame because of it.  For years, only my close friends and family knew my secret. I was depressed. 

If someone caught me taking one of my pills, I would lie and claim that it was for some other ailment. Anxiety. Stress.  Antibiotic. I couldn’t care less what they thought it was as long as they didn’t know it was an anti-depressant.

There were many nights where I felt helpless and at a loss.  Although I cannot say that I was suicidal, there were times where I did feel like that would be my only way out.  I was afraid that if the darkness I felt within got any darker that I would someday be led to that point.

You see, what people who have never experienced depression don’t understand is that it makes you feel powerless.  It robs you of the ability to see the people and love around you.  It isolates you and makes you feel like sinking and disappearing within yourself. For some, it paralyzes you to the point of being afraid of your own self.

You become a stranger.

Depression isn’t always situational, as we can see from those who suffer from it in Hollywood.  Money, fame, recognition, and a world-wide outpouring of love can’t fix it because the root runs so much deeper.

It comes from not being connected to the one who created and gave you life in the first place.  We were designed to be in connection with God.  The human race first began it’s journey on earth by walking side by side with God.  When that connection gets polluted, we hide just as Adam and Eve did.

Depression makes you hide.  Depression makes you think you’re alone when in fact someone has been looking and in pursuit of you from the beginning. Depression makes you cover yourself with something that was never meant to be your covering.

Sadly, Robin Williams represents thousands upon thousands of others who have battled the same demons. The ones who had been lied to by the spirit of depression into thinking that death was their only way out.  What breaks my heart is that they will never know on this side of life that there is freedom.  There is hope.

If you battle with depression, please do not lose hope. Do not allow fear and shame to lie to you and trick you into staying silent.

Reach out.

There is hope.

There is a way out.

There is freedom.

My prayers are with Robin Williams’ family and friends during this time and also with the countless others who have been left behind by someone they loved.

 

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please contact The Suicide Prevention Hotline.

 

 

 

The Power of Peace

Peace is power.

Peace is sacred.

Far too often we give our peace away as we search for significance.

Approval.

Answers.

We give our peace to people.

Do they like me?

Will they approve?

Will they betray me?

We give it to numbers.

The number on the scale.

The number in our bank accounts.

The number of likes on a photo or status.

We give it away, yet it’s the most powerful source of Heaven we have.

It was Jesus’ peace that calmed the raging waters in the midst of the storm.

It was Mary Magdalene’s peace that surpassed her fear as she broke all cultural rules and stereotypes as she, a woman, bowed at Jesus’ feet and worshipped him in a room filled with men.

It was peace that protected Mary as she walked among her town, pregnant and unwed, as others looked upon her with judgement and surely accused her of being a liar.

Peace keeps us in the heart of the Father.

Peace reminds us of who we are.

Peace gives us the power to be surrounded by adversity and warfare and be able to say, “I will be okay.”

Peace is life.

Peace is sacred.

Peace is power.

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The Sea of Galilee

 

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