Breathing

It was a low point. I was not proud of myself. My sister-in-law looked me in the eyes and very clear breathed deeply to elicit a deep breath from me as well. “Please don’t,” was my honest, though tactless response.

At that point, all my senses were on high alert. She was right. I needed to breathe, but it felt patronizing to be told so.

Jesus knows I needed to breathe. My inability to receive help, though understandable, has hurt a number of well intentioned people.

When I am in an irrational state of mind, appealing to the logical course of action doesn’t always work. So, to help lessen the pain I cause, I try to plan before the panic. I’ve given my friends a keyword to tell me when they see me start to spiral. And if I fight it, they can remind me that I gave them permission to tell me that.

Also, it’s helpful to practice breathing deeply when I am feeling just fine. This develops helps me 1) lessen the intensity and frequency of panic and 2) aid me in the middle of it.

Instead of practicing breathing for mental health, it’s been easier for me to do breathing exercising for other reasons – like singing or playing harmonica. It feels more productive, enjoyable, and even healing.

Right now, I am going through vocal lesson videos online through WorshipU, which has a mobile app as well. It’s been a long time since I have played the harmonica, but maybe I’ll get back into that sometime in the future. One thing at a time. 🙂

As much as I pursue prevention, when I am in the middle of it and not thinking clearly, I usually just need to leave. I need to exit the situation and pray. He never condemns me when I do. The Prince of Peace revives my lungs and floods my soul with secure hope and love. Jesus, help me remember to breathe deep.

My Journey Towards Healing

Random fact about me. I am a bit of a health nut. Not in the sense that I am any good at following healthy eating patterns, but dang it, I am decent about knowing the stuff I should do.

I watched an entire docu-series a few years ago on the connection between the food we eat and mental health (The Depression Sessions) with all sorts of experts (Dr. Isabella Wentz, Dr. Ben Lynch, Dr. Jill Carnahan, etc…). I even took notes! Haven’t really followed them, but…

But then I finally went to a doctor. She prescribed anti-depressants and a list of about seven other lifestyle changes. Diet and exercise being towards the top of the list. One of the main elements of the diet changes was eliminating refined sugar and refined flour. Here’s an article (with legitimate sources linked) to explain more.

The antidepressants weren’t working for me, so I stopped taking them. (I was on the lowest dosage already, so tapering off wasn’t an issue.) Between the time I stopped taking them and the holidays, I was feeling great! My mood was 200% better, and the withdrawal symptoms were not bad at all. And cutting out sugar was helping. I could tell people it was the doctor’s orders, and get by without explaining much more. I was doing well…

Until Thanksgiving. Goodness gracious, Thanksgiving was a nightmare. I nearly cried. All of the holiday meal was everything I was supposed to avoid. I tried telling my grandparents the whole “doctors orders” thing, but they pushed. “Why?” “What would happen if you ate some sugar?” And you need to understand – my grandparents are not sympathetic in the least towards mental health issues, so telling them was not an option.

Even then, I managed to get through Thanksgiving without giving in too much. But then my little brother’s wedding, and Christmas… My will-power broke. My grandparents didn’t stop pushing and “jokingly” insulting my eating habits. God knows I love them, and they are wonderful in their own way, but this broke me. That and wedding cake. Need I say more?

It was around this same time that I watch a docu-series on the microbiome, which also referred to the connection between mental and gut health. I had been having other gut issues as well, so I figured it was worth looking into. I ordered a test to measure the health of my microbiome.

(I also went through a charity that offers donation-based Biblical counseling. I found the same or better counseling through my own church leadership, so I discontinued using the charity’s services.)

Since I’ve been indulging in sugar again, the sluggishness, brain fog, and depression have been returning.

All this to say, for those interested, I will be posting updates on my journey. The results of my microbiome test (including more of what foods I need to avoid, etc.). Tracking my attempts to follow doctor’s orders. And, per usual, what helps and doesn’t help my mental health.

Comments and questions are welcome 🙂

Tumult & Ease

Tell me about the sunrise.
Heart pounding, not breathing.
Describe the colors of the skies.
Peach, pale green, indigo, steel blue.
Be amazed and let wonder soothe.
Tell me about that one time,
that story I never knew.
Where you lived,
How you loved,
and you ran.
How I’d love to see you run,
and when the day is done,
Tell me again about the colors by the sun.


A Misophonia Story continued

…continued

So, “Black” Friday night, like an involuntary twitch, holding myself together felt like an impossibility; if I didn’t “flight”, I was gonna fight. I was shaking inside. *slam* My hands hit the table, and I immediately wanted to take it back. Everyone looked at me in shock and maybe judgment – which I wouldn’t blame anyone for.  

I offered to leave in the calmest tone of voice I could muster.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault, really. I had just reached my limit with my sound sensitivity. My sisters and brother-in-law insisted that they would rather have me stay there and they would stop eating. Other sarcastic words were uttered by a loved one and bitterness exposed. I cried. I didn’t want to ruin their night. Shoot. Recalling this all really sucks. 

Anyway, I stayed, and they took snack breaks in the other room between game rounds. A compromise. Quieter foods were consumed at the table. And still I felt the weight of the fact they could have carried on normally if it wasn’t for me. If I wasn’t there, they might’ve had a better time. But they insisted that they wanted me there. Most of them insisted anyway. 

Phew. I need to recenter. I’m in tears as I am typing this. I don’t usually describe these scenarios here for that reason. I want to focus more on what helps. I am really fortunate to have people who willing to accommodate me in my weakness, but I really wish they didn’t have to. Okay, okay, okay. I need to stop. *nearly bawling* *trying to convince myself* Everyone needs some level of accommodation, and love means sacrifice no matter who you are and what you struggle with. 

Pursuing Peace Holistically

AGH! Okay. I don’t want that to happen again. So here’s the plan, ideally. 

Making consistent for prayer and meditation on the Word is necessary. I need to be okay with leaving people in order to do that. Regardless of what I think they might think.

Also, it is completely acceptable to utilize other healthy methods of managing stress. *I’ll share some things I am trying, but I have not been paid by any of these companies to do so.* During the holidays, I had forgotten to take my vitamins and supplements. I have been taking Ashwagandha (an herb), which has been helpful across the board in regards to stress. And, again, I forgot to take it over the holiday. So back on it. Gonna aim to continue faithfully.  

A couple other things I am trying:  Monq -a personal essential oil diffuser;  Wholetones .

On top of these, I’ve been more disciplined in diet and exercise – not quite to the point I’d like to be, but taking steps in that direction. I’ve got people holding me accountable. 

I know there is more therapy and healing that needs to happen. There may be a root issue that may be accessible and treatable with some help. In the meantime, I’ll do what I know works and gets me through to the next day. 

And, most importantly, I’ll keep praying to the One who can heal me. Jesus Christ. I’ll keep looking to Him. 

 

4 Holiday Self-Care/ Reality

“Dear Fours, during the past holidays, what are some things you’ve found yourself longing for? There are probably some things that aren’t meant to be, and that’s ok – can you hold them gently and loosely in one of your hands? Now, in your other hand, what are the things you’ve longed for that you might be able to create, initiate, participate in, or actively move toward this holiday season?” @xoenneagram

I don’t have Instagram anymore, but my sister screenshot this and sent it to me. So, you Insta-people should check out @xoenneagram. (Another Enneagram post in reference to Fours.)

Back to the questions…. 
…during the past holidays, what are some things you’ve found yourself longing for? …

Hmm… peace? Is that too cliche? Mostly, I just want peace, whether it’s a  holiday or not. Sometimes, peace and quiet – though I love all the little children and big people making noise. I need my quiet times. Peace. The serenity of the outdoors. But mostly peace within my own heart and head. My misophonia generally acts up a lot during the holidays. I can get away and do the dishes, but sometimes Grandpa insists that I sit and wait for everyone else to finish eating -_-.

Practically speaking… umm… for everyone to get along; not freak out over small things (myself included). So I guess that’s also peace. Haha. Now, if we’re gonna dream big, I may say deep pure connection over the beauty and glory of Jesus. 

Joy. Thankfully, I don’t have to look far for that. And when I struggle to see beyond my nose, quiet times with Jesus help me to find joy. So, peace, again 😀

Okay, I can’t control all of that. I can set aside time intentionally for quiet, but I can’t make people respect that. So I’ll ideally hold that loosely. I can start gushing about my Savior, and hope that it catches. —That’s the plan anyway—

How That Went – A Misophonia Story

…Okay, so I wrote most of this before Thanksgiving, and wanted to be frank with how it went. I had a low-grade panic attack for most of “Black” Friday. After spending the day using all my energy to keep from running to hide, my body couldn’t hold in the tension any longer. As is common in these circumstances, my misophonia was on high alert (sensitivity to sounds often is connected to stress levels). I try to distract myself as much as possible to ease the fight or flight response, but my resources had bled dry. 

I’m not proud of myself. I wanted to apply this “holiday self-care” advice more effectively. It’s not easily understood, Misophonia. I am thankful for everyone who loved me through it. Still, I acted out of fear. I didn’t take the time alone that I needed for fear that my loved ones would think I did not want to be around them. 

… I’ll tell you more tomorrow.

Four! pt3

Passion: Envy / Fixation: Melancholy

Part 3 of a series of posts I am doing on my Enneagram type. Read the intro here.

That really threw me off. When I started reading type descriptions, I resonated with so much of the Four, but… Envy? I don’t consider myself to bean envious person. So to understand this passion, I had to take a step back.

Before I continue, let’s define passion and fixation briefly. The “passion” is often described as the deadly sin of the type, and the fixation is the method by which one justifies or feeds the passion. Some will contest to that terminology, but that is the general understanding. Either way, it’s cyclical. For example, envy feeds melancholy which in turn produces more envy. 

I don’t envy what people have materially so much as their confidence and ease of social interaction. Their will-power and appearance of comfort within their own skin. But even more than all that, most of my experience of “envy” is intangible. It is better encapsulated by the word “longing.” And when I focus so much on what I don’t have, that’s where the tendency towards melancholy comes in (gloomy or depressive state of mind). 

What do you do with that? Generally, I try to remember that I am not alone in my feeling of lack. A good friend of mine once told me after witnessing my desperation, “You don’t need more of Jesus than anyone else.” And that was supremely comforting. Whether my need is more or less visible, it is in the same measure that all humanity needs Jesus. 

On that note, here is a song 🙂 – All We Need is Need – Jimmy Needham. 

So instead of fighting this need, I can see it as an invitation to go deeper.

To quote The Classic Crime, “My heart’s a hole that needs to constantly be filled with love.” And that can feel debilitating, because we know that people can’t provide that constant flow of love. We are limited, finite creatures who cannot fill an infinite need. 

We were made to be filled with infinite love from an infinite Savior. This overwhelming longing and need are not signs that there is something wrong. Rather, it is supposed to be this way. God has blessed me repeatedly with the weight of my need so I turn to Him to satisfy me continually.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

And when I see that my human companions don’t satisfy my longing for love, I can thank God. My friends are wonderful people, but they make very poor gods. And placing them on that pedestal, asking them to fill me, will only destroy us both. They would either become crushed by the demand, or their egos would become inflated with self-importance. And I would be as desperate as ever, prone to despair; still unsatisfied, scrambling for love and acceptance when it’s already mine if I would only look into the hands of my Savior. 

Let’s go back to the passion, which I will call longing rather than envy. I can keep it from flowing into melancholy if I find it’s fulfillment/purpose in Jesus. 

I can take the weight off my friends and family, and let the Only One who can carry it do that for me. I can free those relationships to be places of peace and mutual care. And I can take the weight off of me. I don’t have to feel ashamed because of my need. I have a Savior who took that shame for me, and He doesn’t hold back His love for me when I ask. 

What You Feel is Normal

man doing boxing
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What you feel is normal, friend
I can feel it too.
When the darkness closes in,
It covers multitudes.

As sad as that may be,
Here’s a happy truth:
It has attacked an army –
Worn, but full of youth.

In this fight, you should know,
You’re friends are by your side.
You will never be alone.
Your Savior lives, though He died,
And He will fight for you.

Beginning to Heal

As I was slipping, my internal dialogue consoled me, “You’re alright. It’s okay. It’s not that bad.” I got up, palm bruised and backside covered in mud. Standing in the chilly rain, I said, “Ouch,” to the zero people who were there. I continued around the house to locate the noise that was keeping me awake, but to no avail. It sounded like a drip drop in an empty pail. I thought I could muffle it, or move the gutter… something.

Oh well. I was already awake. Might as well at least change out of these muddy pajamas and clean myself up. Sleep would not come easily anyway, not without prescription help tonight.

Prescriptions. I needed to call the pharmacy to refill one of them. Regardless of my hesitation, I did promise the doctor to try it for six months. Five more months to go, and I couldn’t tell if it was helping at all yet. I never before had to refill a prescription in my life. I didn’t even know how.

I wish my internal dialogue was as automatically comforting when the slipping isn’t so tangible. When the fall isn’t rational. When feelings overwhelm logic, and I squirm to flee though no one attacks. “You’re alright. It’s okay. It’s not that bad. It’s chilly and raining and you’re muddy, but you’re just bruised and you have a warm shower and clean clothes inside.”

This pain is not forever, and whether I feel it or not, I have a change of clothes and a fresh perspective inside. This is the beginning of healing, even as slow as it comes.

Malachi 4:2

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.

A Cloudy Day

I had to leave. I felt so alone in that crowded home. No one knew the ache in my heart. No one even asked.

“I have to go,” I told them, not mentioning where. That wasn’t necessary information. If they knew I was going for a walk, someone might offer to come with, and I wanted to be alone to talk to Jesus.

It was a cloudy day. Raining just barely. A fresh mist falling from the sky. Everything looked so beautifully green. I walked, embracing the rain, giving no thought to my lack of umbrella and, therefore, damp appearance.

And I cried. How could there be so much beauty in the world, when there is so much pain? And my thoughts drew to the ground, beneath the dirt. The seeds had to die for life to give birth. It’s the way things work. People too. I know this is an old truth, but I have to re-learn it every season. These work together – beauty and pain. One does not diminish the other.

“It makes me sad that you are sad,” were the tender words of my emotionally intelligent 7 year old nephew. And in that hurting together, there is the strength of bittersweet beauty that sends our roots deeper.

I walked back to the house to use the bathroom, and say my final goodbyes. I was going to leave, anyway, but then my friend started to play his guitar, and I stayed. We sang our praises to Jesus our King, and my spirit soared above the trees I wished I could climb. ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. ❤

Silence, Gravity, and Serenity

Lately, I’ve not had much to say. On the phone with a friend last night, I mostly let him talk. There came that oft’ dreaded silence… “Well… I should let you go…”

I had thoughts, but none seemed important. Or they may have seemed valuable, but my voice did not have the strength to carry them. They resided in a place more honored by my silence.

Lately, I feel the same when talking to God. I don’t have much to say. He knows my troubles, and even the thought of mentioning them exhausts me. Not that they are much more than anyone else’s woes. The more I talk with people, the more I see that they are common. And maybe that’s what makes them feel heavier. A very deep and wide weight that affects us all, like gravity.

Waking up is hard. But this morning, I had somewhere to be, though I felt like I had nothing to bring. And that’s enough. It is enough to simply bring myself. As much as I want to be worthy of eternal love on my own, Christ gives this gift to me freely. He sees my weakness and loves me completely. It’s enough to be me. And this world I try to carry was carried for me.

It’s not about what I could bring,
But all about Jesus Christ my King.

And in that place, I felt the sweetness of His friendship. Not detached from sorrow, but more like my feet could be planted in it while my arms reached all the higher in love and hope. My Savior loves my friendship. And this is not some irreverent thing. It is entirely holy. Built on my weakness and His strength, and He carries me happily. He carries me – this happy, hurting, and growing tree. I drink freely of His love as He waters me.