Sunday, July 17, 2016

Light Needs to Be Seen

"Code grey! Code grey!"

The teachers went into action as they told us to get to the back of the room. We all moved until we were told that the drill was over. We sat there for about 10-15 minutes, all huddled together.

The sad truth is that the drills are becoming reality. The attacks are real. Our world is hurting more than ever before. As a student going through the drills, I thought to myself, "Well there is no use for these drills. Nothing will ever happen."

And it has.

A shooting there. A bombing here. And every day, they are becoming more of our "new reality."

All we can do is lift our arms up to God, asking him to help our society, our nation and nations around the globe.

This should not be.

We feel helpless. We feel as though the attacks will never cease.

But when our world is at its darkest, God is there. We should never give up on world peace because with God, nothing is impossible.

World peace is possible if we work together to bring happiness, joy, contentedness, love, honesty to every crevice in this world. It takes each of us to change our reality once again.

No matter how dark and difficult our lives can feel, we have a God who can heal us and show us His light.

And that light...

That light needs to be seen.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Stubborn to Bright Side

Yesterday, I was told that I will not be able to run for awhile. To be frank, I was devastated. Not only does running help me deal with my mental illnesses but when I was a child I always dreamt that I could run in a Marathon.

Today, almost all day, people asked me if they could help me out with anything. Stubborn me, I declined most of the offers. I'm not used to asking for help, especially physically. In the last few weeks, I went from running 2-5 times a day with a day or two off to not being able to run at all.

But in all things, there is a "silver lining." Being off of my feet as much as I can will help me stay seated and work on my scarf project. Just plug some headphones into my ears and I'll crochet for hours.

So my takeaways are 1) don't be stubborn enough not to ask for help and 2) look on the bright side; no matter how difficult things are, you are not alone in this world and there are many people who care about you..

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Letter From and to Within

 Every so often, I challenge myself to write a compassionate letter for myself. Often, it is so easy to share love towards others and not so much myself. I hope that by sharing this, you will find some compassion towards yourself.

Dear me,

I know that you are going through so much right now and I hope that you are blessed to receive this note. Every life has its ups and downs, circles, squares and trapezoids, but that does not mean that you have to let the evil in your life to stop you from achieving your dreams. Do not let those obstacles and trials of life stop you from becoming stronger. You got this!
You are incredibly strong and I know that you will get through this because you have been through so much more. This life is not always full of simple solutions. The situation you find yourself in right now will pass and most likely get better. Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes it requires peer support. Sometimes it requires you to change your behaviors with those around you and within yourself.

I know that you try to do your best, but there are times when your best will not be good enough. Forgive yourself and do not hurt yourself by dwelling on your inadequacy. We will never be perfect and you obviously know that nobody will. Mistakes are inevitable. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to be patient and move forward from the negatives.

No matter what situations you find yourself in, know that you are loved. Deeply loved. Nothing can take that away from this fact. You may or may not always feel close to God, but you know through “coincidental” circumstances that God loves you. I love you. Those around you love you. Learn to love yourself and forgive yourself. Move forward.
Sometimes it feels as if the circumstances in your life are painful to go through, but try to remind yourself that there is always hope. Never give up. Stick to the hope, love, joy and contentedness that fill your life each day, no matter how difficult today was or is.

I love you….

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Miraculous Journey

About nine years ago, a woman was on a ledge. She closed her eyes and whispered to herself (and apparently God) "This is it." 

She found herself on the ground. In shock. She started yelling "I just want to die." She tried to get up but the paramedics told her not to move.

An official from the university that she was attending called her mother to tell them about the situation.

"Not my daughter. That just can't be." she said.

But her mother and brother made a trip to the university.

Everyone involved did not know if she would ever walk or run again.

She walked two days later with the help of a body brace of which she would wear for the next 3 months.

Years later, she had a concussion and went to the hospital. One of the medications that they gave her in the hospital caused her to become dystonic. She could barely walk. She stuttered, barely able to speak. Her eyes were uncontrollable. It became so severe that they were talking about her being in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Again, she was not sure if she would ever walk or run again.

A few years later, she was in an outpatient  mental health program. She was only in that program for a couple months, until she was hositalized again.

You may have figured that this person I speak of is me.

Today, I ran my first 5K in over 10 years. Today I ran by that outpatient program and reflected on how far I have come. It also reminded me that this life is a journey, not a destination.

I am beyond thankful to God that I can still run and walk.

Today was miraculous and monumental for me,

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I Am a Warrior

Imagine that you are stuck in a dark bedroom. Someone checks your room every 15 minutest to make sure you are alive. Outside, you hear people. You hear low-flying planes. You want to go check outside so you go and lift the window curtains but you are terrified. You are paralyzed. They must be after you.. You see a man in a uniform. Tall build. Slowly walking. with a flashlight.

Suddenly, you are back in your bedroom as a young teenager. Flashlights coming through the window. You hear the police arrest your mother and you start sobbing. A police man comes into your room and says everything is going to be ok. You call your pastor, the only person you can think of to talk to at 4 in the morning. She tells you, "You have a story to tell." That night you made a promise to yourself that you would make it through this life and help others.

Most likely, that man in the window is hospital security, not the FBI. No matter what people tell you, you believe they are the FBI coming for you President Obama is on one of those planes and he is here to take you away.

This was my first few nights in a hospital in 2013 I kept these nights pretty quiet for fear that they were actually real.

This was my reality.

I have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (schizophrenia and bipolar) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Simply put, my brain goes haywire and I have to work very hard to get out of these psychotic/paranoid moments that come and go.

But before you judge me by this situation, you should know about mental illness. Nobody asks to have mental illness. Nobody asks to have to deal with symptoms every day. Nobody asks to be humiliated or feel humiliated because of an episode. The episodes come. Like people with cancer, nobody asks to have a relapse.

I have friends and family and loved ones from cancer, but nobody I know is blamed for having it. So why should I be blamed for my mental illness? Why should I have to suffer with horrible finances because I cannot work and I have 10 years of medical bills? Why can I not raise money for my finances when there is no question for raising money for cancer treatments?

I suffer day in and day out with mental illnesses that could end my life. This is a battle I've been fighting since I was about 13. Now I am 26. Half of my life.

If I could wish anything, I wish that stigmas and discrimination would be replaced with love, respect and encouragement.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lefts and rights




How uncomfortable were you when you read that word?  Chances are that you are uncomfortable with that wor and its meaning. Changes are uncomfortable especially big ones that change your life.

Life's a journey of ups and downs, lefts and rights. But sometimes we need to change in order to become all we can be. Tomorrow is monumental for me because I am making a big change in my life. I am standing up for myself.

 It's terrifying me.

Change is uncomfortable and can be terrifying.  But sometimes you need to change to become who God wants us to be. Change is not easy. But it's worth it.

I'm scared of other people's reactions especially those who are involved in the change I am making.

But if things don't change then we remain as they always were and are. Stagnant.

Sometimes downright hurtful.

Things can change for the better though.

In order to change sometimes you have to face that which you are afraid of. It takes a lot of courage and strength but again it is worth it.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Evolution of Masks

Many of you know that I am currently in an outpatient mental health program. Yesterday, I asked for a prompt for art therapy that I could work on over the weekend. I love expressing myself with pastels, painting, and color pencils.

The prompt that I was given was this: Draw a mask.

I have done more than that and have enjoyed working on this project.

This is the first mask picture I drew:
In this drawing, it looks as if the eyes are tired, and yesterday afternoon, I was exhausted from going to program every day. I felt drained yesterday. The mouth of this mask is neither happy nor sad, exactly how I felt. However, the mouth was not my mouth, it was the mask's. Sometimes I feel as though I do not have a voice. I often feel that I do not fully let everyone see who is behind the mask. The mask is dark on one side and fairly light on the other side. This represents the dichotomous nature of my mental illnesses and life in general.

This is the first picture I painted this morning.

In this picture, there is a lot less darkness. That's because when I drew this I only had a few flashbacks and no nightmares. There is no mouth on this mask. I feel that the viewer can sense what is going on in this piece without anything explicit or elusive. In the middle of the mask, there are swirls of black and some light colors in the back. This is representative of how I feel myself becoming whole and more light. Overall, the swirls of darkness are not so overwhelming. The background resembles the fact that I am slowly coming back to the present without having paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations, etc. The eyes are very dark, which is supposed to reflect that at this stage, I am scared to let people see all of me.

This was my second art piece this morning.

This is a great departure from my first two paintings. The broad spectrum of colors represents the fact that I feel a mixture of feelings. The colors on the mask almost fit together with the external colors. I am feeling that my feelings inside are being validated by those around me. They tell me I am allowed to feel that range of emotions. I am starting to let people "in" so they can understand me further. It is important to note that there is no smile on this mask, because I believe that the viewer can understand where I am emotionally at this point without blatantly saying it on the painting.

This is the third painting I drew this morning:

This painting, again, is a departure from the last few. There is almost no darkness in this painting. It is important to note that this painting was drawn right after going for a 2-mile run. The external area depicts a peaceful scene of nature, with the sun, a clear blue sky, grassy field and three flowers.  My emotions are definitely matched with my internal emotions. I feel renewed, inspired, and awake, as seen in the mask. I am reminded that there is a light within me that can conquer any darkness. The flowers represent my growth and transformation. My mouth is open, meaning that I feel like I have an important voice. Running helps me to feel strong and empowered. I feel close to God.

Finally, this is my fourth painting this morning.

This painting most represents how I feel in general these days. The mask is breaking and I am finding my voice again. I have learned a lot about myself and how much light there is inside of me. I love the power in this painting, shown through the colors and the fact that the viewer can begin to see my face. The colors outside are supposed to represent the people who have helped me and encouraged me through all of the difficult times with my mental illnesses. I feel that it is okay and safe to get rid of any mask I may put on. There are people who care about and understand me. I am very strong now and I feel that I can conquer anything set before me.