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 🙂

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.

OneThing Recap: Wholeness and Healing

After years of feeling so broken, my Heavenly Father spoke wholeness and healing over me. Restoration. Through a stranger and through a new friend.

A stranger wrote to me: “He knows where all the broken pieces are! He wants His child whole – His mission – His heart’s desire is to gather those pieces – to mend, to make whole His child! … His great desire is to lovingly take each broken piece and restore it – under His grace – as we sit in His presence and allow Him to speak. As we allow ourselves to receive, He will heal. So simple. So hard. To rest and receive. Receive, sweet sister. The world doesn’t understand coming to a conference and crying… They don’t understand our God, our Beloved Savior weeps with us; that the tears are healing! It’s communication with Him. It’s connection with Him. It’s His great desire for tender hearts to come before Him.”

I receive that, sweet sister. Thank you stranger. For all the strangers and friends that have prayed for me this week, thank you! God hears you, and God is healing me.

To the gentleman I did not know who told me that there is purpose in pain, thank you. To the young man called me his sister and prayed for deeper healing than merely physical and shared practical wisdom with me, thank you.

To the woman in the restroom who stood and persisted in prayer over me with my friends until the warmth of healing spread from the top of my head to my toes and peaceful rest filled my soul in sweet communion with the Father, thank you. I think we stood there for 10 minutes.

To my new and old friends who persisted with me this week, giving me a place to stay, transportation, and even going with me to the hospital, thank you. I am so blessed by you all, and I pray God blesses you abundantly beyond your wildest dreams.

To the speakers and singers at the OneThing Conference, thank you. Especially Francis Chan, Matt Maher, and Audrey Assad… I was drawn into worship like I haven’t been in a long time. I am blessed by the love of Christ and His church exhibited. I understand 1 Peter 4 like never before, and I am equipped to go into this new year with the joy to embrace suffering as Christ did for me.

Even though the pain of whiplash did not entirely subside, it is dramatically better now. Even though I will have learn how to get to work without a car, I am encouraged knowing that in Christ I have everything, and I shall not want. If he did not provide one more physical comfort to me, He would still be enough. His sacrifice on the cross is still enough to prove His love.

Thank you for my little brother, who is not so little anymore, who prayed for my  health and drove me home this morning. I don’t know if you know how much that means to me.

“In my darkest hour, in humiliation, I will wait for You. I am not forsaken. Though I lose my life, though my breath be taken, I will wait for You. I am not forsaken. One thing I desire, to see You in Your beauty. You are my delight. You are my glory. You, my sacrifice, oh Your love is all consuming. You are my delight. You are my glory. You’re the lover of my soul. Even unto death, with my every breath, I will love You. Jesus, the very thought of You…”Audrey Assad

After all the good and the bad, after feeling so full and so broken, so needy… It is easy to over-emphasize what I lack. It is easy to focus on how I have disappointed myself and frustrated others… I want to focus instead on the beauty of God’s people, thankfulness, what I have in Christ, wholeness, love…

” Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James 1:2-4

I am whole. I am loved. There is nothing that I lack. I am laying to rest the past on the bosom of Christ.