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Monday, March 2, 2015

We're All in This Together

If you listen closely to how I talk about this ministry, you'll notice that much of the time I'll say "we" have this, or this happen to "us". And you might think that seems strange. After all, isn't this my ministry?

No.

No, it's not.

This mission is ours. This goal of being a beacon of hope to those suffering from a mental illness is too big for me to do on my own. I need help, and that's why (forgive me for being poetic) I encourage you to take this light I'm holding out for you and light your own fire so you can warm the hearts of those in torment.

This mission of ours is life and death. We can do so much. How many people will be affected by us?




Monday, February 23, 2015

Time is Tickin' Away

For a while now, my parents have been telling me something--"You need to manage your time better." And I've known it's true. However, I was recently shown exactly how much more I need to keep track of all the stuff that's going on in the form of not-so-great Spanish grades (try saying that 10 times really fast).

So with a resolute heart, I made this over the weekend:




Everyday, once I finish doing an hour of one of my daily tasks, I put an "X" next to what I just completed. That helps me to not ignore necessary responsibilities, and at the end of the day, I can see how much I accomplished!

I now have the same procedure for practicing piano (though with slightly different shorthand) and for my weekly goals. I tend to practice one song a whole lot more than others, so this system has helped me advance in my music, too.

I hope this brings more peace and order into my life. And who knows, it can probably work for you, too. Peace is a wonderful thing. 

So now that I've finished this post, I'm putting an "X" next to "ministry".


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Agape Love

Yes. This is one more mention of this lovely (pardon the pun) holiday known as Valentine's Day. Many people (especially teens) are worried right about now whether they'll get a box of candy, be invited to a dance, or if they're going to be alone today.

Guess what? Getting a box of candy, going to dance, or being with someone isn't proof of love. Sure, they're nice things to do for someone special, but that's not love itself.

And how do I know? Because I love you. 

And I love my parents, my friends, the rest of my family, and everyone else I meet. I know what love is because during my recovery, I slowly felt and saw what I thought I'd never feel or see. Love. I saw people sacrificing for me, going out of their way to help me get better, and that's when I realized what love actually is.

It's not taking. But giving.

We've all heard that a million times, but think about it for a second. Yes, giving candy, flowers, time, and energy, but also giving yourself. No matter how hard, how uncomfortable. Love never fails, it never gives up, and it will always remain.

I love every human being (on different levels, of course) because every one of you is fantastic, amazing, beautiful, and can't be erased.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Acceptance

When I was in the depths of my depression, before my suicide attempt, I fought hard against the symptoms I was experiencing (I didn't know I had depression). I wanted to feel joy, but I couldn't. I wanted to love my family and feel the love they gave me, but I couldn't. I wanted to have normal sleep patterns, but I couldn't. I wanted to like being around the friends who were good for me, but--that's right--I just couldn't. I wanted to believe in God, but it seemed impossible.

I was constantly in a battle with myself, which caused guilt and anxiety, and catapulted me to an even deeper darkness that ended with my suicide attempt. For any of you who have had a brain system challenge or disorder, you know that the pain is supreme and indescribable. I'd much rather have a physical sickness than deal with depression again (though the opposite may be said for people who do have physical illnesses).

I never accepted the fact that there was something seriously wrong with me. I blamed all my problems on everyone else, and I believed, with all my heart, that it was the absolute truth.

For those of you who are depressed right now (or those of you who love someone who is--please share this with them) accept the fact that you are dealing with a very real disease that has very real symptoms, like the ones I describe above and others. Accept that these are a part of you, a part you might improve through treatment and recovery. And, possibly, a part that may linger with you.

Also, accept that you can eventually learn how to identify that part of you, embrace it, and deal with it through behavioral or other techniques before it gets real bad and too difficult for you to handle again.

Accept yourself for who you are and love every part of yourself because that's what makes you unique.

Everyone on this earth has a cross to bear. Every. Single. Person. Rich or poor, young and old, girl or boy. Everyone has crosses that they have to carry. Every. Single. Day.

Our cross is depression or another mental illness. Some have more than one cross. Regardless, when I was depressed, I wanted more than anything to live the "happy" lives of those around me. You know which ones I'm talking about. The people who seem to not have a problem or care in the world. What my depressed brain was incapable of realizing was that no one like that exists.

Since my recovery, I no longer believe that anyone has a perfect life. So many people I've known--some for years--have confided their problems to me after they learned of mine. Or their parents confided in my mom or dad. We are sometimes overwhelmed with the challenges of those around us. Yes, the same people I thought had perfect lives were the ones who desperately needed help. Almost all were a result of a mental illness in the family. Don't get me wrong. It doesn't make me happy to know that others are suffering, but it gives me a perspective that I couldn't see or didn't know before.

We need to stick together to pull each other out of the abyss. We should accept that everyone needs help at some point in time. And that's ok because that's what life's about--helping each other. Knowing that we struggle doesn't mean we should give up , does it? It means we have to close our eyes, grit our teeth, live another day (or second), and rely on others to do what's best for us--because sometimes we're incapable of doing it for ourselves.

Then, when we're finally--FINALLY!--better, we can do the same for someone else.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

One in Infinity


My brother loves this joke: "If you're one in a million, there are 7,000 people just like you." And, of course, that gets a laugh, but just think about it. You're not one in a million, not even one in seven billion. You're so much more special than that.

This came to me during my Spanish class while we were introducing ourselves. It was then that I realized how unique these 20-some people were. What followed was the thought of those with depression; and if all the people in the world were gathered in a room and asked to say random facts about themselves, everyone would realize just how unique and special they are. 

A friend of mine (you know who you are) did something last Friday on Facebook called "Fun Fact Friday". And the more I thought about it, the more I realized this is exactly what I wanted to do. Share a random fact about myself and ask for some about you in return. And in the process, build a community of people who love, care, and know a random fact or two about each other.

It's important to be serious in our battle, but having some fun is just as vital.

So stay tuned for this Friday on your preferred form of social media for a chance to kick back and show just how unique you are (if you don't have social media, don't worry, I'm always available via email or that contact form to the right). Hopefully, you'll learn more about me, too.

Because you're not one in seven billion. Not even one in a google.

You're one in infinity.


Monday, January 26, 2015

My Old Friend, Anxiety

The other night I woke up feeling very strange. I first noticed my chest tightening, then my racing heart, quickening breathe, and frantic mind. I felt like I was under attack.

And I was.

What I realized later was that I was having a panic attack. Now, you're probably thinking this is the part where I wake up Mom and Dad and tell them there's something wrong. But I was only half awake and so groggy I had no idea what was going on. Eventually, I fell back to sleep (though to tell you the truth, I really don't remember much of that night).

The next morning I mentioned to my mom that I felt really weird the night before, and as I was relaying what I remembered, she told me that sounded exactly like a panic attack. And as we were trying to determine the cause of it, I conveniently remembered that I was having a dream/nightmare that my youngest sister was being kidnapped. Not fun.

So from then on, I began to realize how much anxiety I still have. You might recall that I had severe anxiety from riding in a car after the crash, which gradually reduced as the months passed, and I eventually forgot what it's like to feel that way.

Until now.

However, there's good news. Because I'm now aware of this fact about myself, I can start to work on it--one little way at a time. I mentioned a while ago that I'm taking parts of my life that need improving and spending forty days focused on one at at time. Right now, I'm still working on my habit of picking at myself, which is an unhealthy way I calm down when I'm anxious. I'm not always successful (you'd know if I were in a stressful situation if I went in with long nails and come out with none), but I'm working on it.
My traveling buddy

I also realized I still feel a leftover anxiety in the car, though it's not nearly as bad as it was. So what do I do? I bring nail clippers every where I go. So when I feel the urge to pick at my nails, I clip and file them instead of damaging my fingers. It's surprisingly calming.

And speaking of fingers. When I don't have some quiet alone time during the day, my anxiety goes through the roof. A great way I found to help me is to play my piano--definitely my favorite way of coping ;)--and I also use pure lavender oil, which is supposed to help me relax.

It's not all easy, though. My mom realized a few weeks ago I was having trouble falling asleep and having nightmares. And unfortunately, we're pretty sure that it's from my beloved sci-fi/fantasy books I spend quality time with at night. So no reading stressful books at bedtime for me. That's hard. And I mean difficult. But it's actually helping me get restful sleep.

The reason I'm sharing this with you is that no matter what challenges we face, there are ways to overcome them. Sometimes those ways are intensely difficult, or seem to take forever to be effective, but there's always a solution--even if it takes lots of tries to find the right one.

I'm on that journey right now. 

Let's support each other.