If Only

I’m currently doing the 12-step program Celebrate Recovery offers. It’s actually my third time. Every time I do there’s always something more that God can work on with me.

We’re dealing with the lesson on POWERLESS – an acrostic on how we really need to depend on God and for God’s help with the issue… it looks at the past…

If only…. Only If…

Only if
I had noticed _____ the _____ would/wouldn’t have happened
If only I had known _____ that day I wish I could take back my words
That time spent would have been successful only if _______
If only I had done this or only if I had seen this or only if I had been there or only if somebody had…
You get the idea…

With my mental health… If only I had talked to _____ or done ______ or not done _____ then maybe I wouldn’t have had my mental breakdown.
(see true life confession at the bottom)

Hindsight is 20/20… We all make decisions we regret… A child thinks if only I hadn’t climbed that tree my arm wouldn’t have broken…

So do I how to deal with the “if only’s”

It’s simple but incredibly hard…

  • I repent
  • I talk to God… prayer…
  • I listen to God through Bible studying
  • Learn from them my if only or only if”
  • Ask God to help me to avoid doing it again
  • I talk to my sponsor accountability partners
  • I make amends

There will be consequences… (not judgements – boy tree > broken arm)
But also peace with God from spending time with God… Be still, and know that I am God Psalm 46:10
Phil 4:4-8 …Peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart in Christ Jesus…

Back to POWERLESS (CR acrostic)

P is pride yah… I had lots of pride… which lead to many “if only”

O Only if… It’s really easy for me to play the self-bashing game… Instead,  I confess to God, He already knows what I did so what’s the benefit of hiding it, He can help me understand why and guides me to what I should do next time or to make amends with those who were affected by my actions…

Worry… Both backwards and forwards… Back… I can stay trapped in the past… Forward… Is God involved? So I just need to trust His plan (it’s called faith)

In going to end the acrostic here… Want to learn more? Find a Celebrate Recovery

Battling the if only or only if is better done with support…

Thinking about doing it does seem easy… It’s the application that is soooo hard…

*****************************************************************************

Okay that above is a battle plan… seems easy simple steps… I know the application is hard and I need the Holy Spirit to give me a nudge or a kick in the butt when I need to use it…

Honestly – it is what I want to do with my heart… that’s the God part of my life – but there is a carnal part of me that just SCREAMS to ignore it – excuse it away (excuse = the skin of truth stuffed with a lie), the self I have inside will distract me… I will think of ways to “justify” my reasoning to ______

The New Testament talks a lot about the sinful person I have inside… It can block the butt kicks… I might feel them or I have not listened long enough to the Spirit in me that I don’t feel them…

This was pretty much what happened in my life… I stopped listening to God… could I have avoided the mental health crisis? I don’t know that what I am dealing with is VERY physical – my brain is literally changed  – why or how or ??? I’m not 100% sure… it’s a disease… why does someone end up being a diabetic? Was it one too many cookies or cakes? Could they have prevented it? Regardless…
Regardless – I am where I am… it wasn’t sudden – there were clues it was happening… it started early on in my life… it’s where I am… This is where God and I try hard to keep moving forward…

Besides…. 

If there isn’t a battle going on – there should be and I need to seek God again… life happens – living it is the hard part….

(CR… I have no affiliation with them other than acknowledging how profound a has changed my life)

Mental Health and Faith

One of my all time favorite pastors is Chuck Swindoll

He preaches with humor and eloquence, love and truth while showing me who God really, that God He loves me and then Chuck guides me to know God better…

In a recent email Chuck talks about endearing faith… And it’s totally CR (to me at least)…

I know that some days or some weeks or such are going to “suck”… It’s going to “seem” as if God has forgotten me (at least in an area of my life)…

I’m very impatient especially with my Borderline Personality Disorder… I NEED to have the answer NOW please and thank you… BUT God doesn’t work that way…

Chuck writes “We’re very fickle in our faith, aren’t we? We are inconsistent, ambivalent.”

As a human, the longer it takes to get an answer the more I doubt myself… And the head games start playing… Remember I just wrote that I’m impatient?

Abraham… Promised a family that would become as numerous as the sand on the shore – took a long time to be fulfilled, Noah – 100 years until the flood…

Saul wrote about this in James 1:2-3

Here is what God wants me to learn today… I need my faith to grow… growth takes time… It builds through endurance… Sometimes very long endurance…

Then when “longer term” issues come I will have the faith I need because I have built up to a level where I can on faith…

Do I have faith endurance to last hours, weeks, months, years?

And with mental health it’s not a short time issue (there is no take one happy pill and wake up fine)… It’s life long battle so on the better days I should seek to strengthen my faith… And on hard times I can rely on the endurance I have built with God knowing I will get through it…

The CR part? On the days where I find my faith is waning, I have my sponsor and accountability partners to help… And the truth I have learned in the 12 steps AND 8 principles (8 based on the word of God)…

I blogged about how I was stressed and needing to rejoice instead yesterday… So I lay down last night and closed my eyes and rejoiced ever anything I could think of… God, family and memories, friends and memories, where I live, food, shelter, clothes, remembering times and trials God has brought me through already… Just anything I could recall… and I woke up this morning not nearly as stressed… It was as if I had been sheltered and cuddled under His wing all night…

It’s a nice feeling to wake up to…

For Such a Time as This, Ester & CR

The book of Ester reads more like a fairytale than any other books of the Bible… there is a beautiful Queen, King, hero and a villain… but twisted plot where God shows himself… It’s a good read…

Queen Ester 

But this story isn’t a fairytale… It’s real life… I’ll skip to a later part in the plot but you still have to read the Bible’s story on your own…

God uses people where they are in life – there is no waiting until I have graduated from where ever… or only if I have memorised 1,000 verses or say the names of the books of the Bible forwards and backwards and in pigs-latin…

Through no seeking or desire, Ester is among a group of women selected to become the next queen…

The key point in this blog post is that Ester does become a queen – but the position doesn’t have perks or authority… The king usually called for the queen to come – a queen to seek audience could mean death… The Israelites were captives in a foreign land – and politically about to be annihilated…

Ester 4:14  The wise uncle challenges Queen Ester –

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” 

For such a time a this – it is said that God never leaves to hurt go unused (Rom 8:28)… He doesn’t cause the hurt… sin does – maybe not ours – maybe it is ours… consequences of generational sin have caught up and we have to deal with them now…

Side notes: If you are struggling with something, no matter how small or trivial you may think it is, or if you think it is TOO big for God to handle or forgive… enough!! Stop giving in to that lie! God already knows about it! Too small to be effective? Think about a tiny mosquito flying around your bedroom at night! 

Too big for God?? Hello? This is God we are talking about right? The God who created the universe and beyond! His yoke is light – give things over to him… 

For such a time as this…  this is your past, present and future – take what you have in the past and use it for God’s work – look at where you are right now – and see where God is taking you – future – see where God is leading you…This is where I love Celebrate Recovery…

This is totally why I love Celebrate Recovery…

Routines, Jesus & Spirals

My Christian routine has been off lately… Hubby retired, living in a new place, family needs… new commitments, times of sharing with friends, other personal trials… oh – don’t forget that I still deal with Mental Health Issues – and the cherry on the top – a brain injury… (the coconut – ADHD)

I NEED routine – I need numbers – literally…. 6 – that’s my morning number… brushing my teeth, washing my face and so forth… hopefully there will not be any distraction or my number counting goes out the window… Pockets or 5 or 6 when leaving the house – 4 pockets (keys, phone, wallets, hair) + hubby knows where I will be, water, anything else (usually placed so I will stumble over it on my way out)…

“Pockets” or 5 or 6 when leaving the house – 4 pockets (keys, phone, wallets, hair) + 5 hubby knows where I will be,  6 water, anything else (jacket) (usually placed so I will stumble over it on my way out)…

I NEED connection –  I LOVE Celebrate Recovery – It has been life changing for me… I had a good routine going this past fall – Step Study Tuesday nights, CR meeting on Thursday’s, Church on Sunday’s…. but this year we had troubles with weather – WAY more snow and freezing weather and missed many nights of both Tuesday and Thursday – I missed so many Tuesday that I dropped out of the 12 step  – There is a special sister bond that happens during a Step Study and I didn’t want to break what was already going on between them… I really missed that… {BPD trigger #1)

Someone, who I find as a good mentor, had mentioned going for coffee with me – and to me the way it was said to lead me to believe in a couple of weeks…. As you can read between the lines – it hasn’t happened… {BPD trigger #2}

Queue the Mental Health…. My Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) kicks into gear…. which triggers the anxiety  – depression follows – then the BPD voices get stronger… repeat… {BPD is somewhat quickly described as – I hate you don’t leave me + much more}

I find I’m sliding down a non-ending spiral slide… spiral slide

One huge issue is to even realise I have started spiralling… God never leaves us going down in a spiral – He always has a way for us to step off… The farther we go though, the harder & longer we have to battle back up…

This isn’t a physical battle… There is nothing physical I can push or punch or lockout or throw away… It’s a Spiritual battle… full on… and God has given me what I need to fight…

But once I do realise it… I have tools…

God’s peace (Phil 4:4-8)

The Armour of God (Eph 6)

Thought control (2 Cor 10:3-5)

Deciding if the thoughts and voices in my head are true or not – are they from God or not? Thoughts are from 1 of 2 places – God or Satan – I validate them – is what I am thinking something God or Jesus would say to me? Is it something I would say about or to someone I love?  My way to figure out if I should be allowing this is – take all my thoughts to God…
2 Cor 10:3-5  verse 3 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

The good news is – we already know the finish to the war- read the end of the book – GOD WINS!

Jesus coming and dying on the cross in our place gave us BACK the authority that Adam had lost to Satan back at Eden –  MEANING that Satan has NO hold on me.

Satan is a SORE LOSER and will use anything and everything he can – including what is said and thought between our ears… a friend says – Satan needs to get out as he’s been living in my head rent free… He will still win some battles but NOT the war…

Is it easy? Not a chance… Sometimes after something is over I look back and realise I could have handled “this” way better with God in control. Sometimes I don’t trust God (I know this sounds stupid – and it is – but I can view God based on people I trust – mentors – and they aren’t perfect. Sometimes pride gets in the way – sometimes false humility, sometimes I feel the need to “brag” about where God and I are at and how I solved my problem basically myself and with just a little bit of God’s help… sometimes I simply don’t see what I should be seeing… accountability partners might come and try to gently suggest areas I need to work on in my walk with God… Sometimes I need my sponsor or friend or, of course, hubby to give me a swift kick in the keester.

Routine – that’s what I need to start figuring out… including a scheduled time with God… from where I am now… So – God – I have my agenda out…

 

 

A Tomato And Mental Health

 I was tending to my little garden, a hopeful success this summer (I usually kill anything).

As I was working my way down to my tomato plants – I saw it! My first tomato! (and yes I know there are more in the picture).

What makes this little tomato so special was a reflection on how 1, 2, or especially 3 years ago how far I have come. I could not have done gardening, some days getting out of bed was a monumental task…showers – self-care… I didn’t deserve any was my scrambled thinking…

So, this tomato is a big mile marker in my recovery…

Seeing new life instead of the massive urge to end my own.  I’m about 18 months on a med combo that’s working… It’s been a hard road with many dark days BUT also tonnes of prayers, not just mine – with my family and my network of support…

The BIGGEST reason though… God… That’s it. God… He never gave up on me… He brought people into my life at certain times… and I found my faith in Him again…

Restore us to Sanity

My recovery started one night at Celebrate Recovery with the words …
We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity (Step 2).
I need my sanity back… That’s all I basically remember from my first few meetings… However, it was enough to keep me coming back…

A few days before my first meeting – I had tried suicide…

My life has SOOOO changed since then…

It isn’t perfect – I don’t get out of bed each day like Pollyanna. There are still really hard days… days I’m confused and not sure where or what I am supposed to do… days I feel like I have been thrown under the bus… the difference is – I have my network I have been building there to support me – send off a quick text and I know the support is there…

You are NOT too far gone for God

I want you to know that if you are reading this… You are NOT too far gone for God… If you are breathing, your heart still beating – you are still loved by God…  The very fact that you are here now reading this is the proof God is waiting for you to turn to Him… He brought you here to read this short blog… Believe in this one simple thing – that you will have your TOMATO day soon… feel free to leave a comment…

Omission & Stigma

Omission… not saying something when you know you should have… It comes at the moment you realize you need to stand up and respond, even when if weren’t asked, and decide not to. Keeping silent is just as wrong as a person who committed or said or doing something wrong… 

This is called an omission of sin

I’ve seen an peer pressure exercise where one person is sent out of the room for some reason and while they are absent the leader tells the rest that they are going to play a gag and answer a few questions absolutely wrong and act normal… And see if the person will answer correctly​ or not…

We have an examples of omission sin do to a set classes in society in the New Testament… The high and mighty figure the Samaritan is beneath the and physicaly keep their distance…

Those people are guilty if omission… They knew what to do and chose not to….

In regards to Mental Health there are omissions… and this builds up the wall of stigma..

STIGMA BECAUSE:

  • The person who has the Mental Health is ignoring their condition
  • Hiding because of fear of rejection with family and peers.
  • Family/friends choosing to ignore or ostracize the person
  • Family/friends feel awkward so stay silent or just disappear

EDUCATE YOURSELF!!!!!

Family and friends have access to Google. Their is so much information, some bad so check your sources.

Sometime all the person needs is a text message of “I’m praying for you”. Maybe they just need to know they are not alone. 

Don’t take it personal if your offer to go visit was declined. There are days I don’t want anyone to see me – it can be I’m not ready as I can feel overwhelmed. It could be that I will feel embarrassed of the state I’m in…

But prayer and text messages are always welcome…

Not Always or Every & God Sees

I’m just like everyone – we all want to feel wanted, special. needed. loved. And for people with Borderline Personality Disorder this is very true but the self-hatred and the polar opposite is also true  – My 2 second teaching version of BPD is – I hate you – DON’T LEAVE ME!!

The “I hate you” is a coping method of pushing you away because we know that eventually you wiil so let’s just get it over this now, but we really are desperate for a friend.

BPD is a severe diagnosis – 1 of  everty 10 people diagnosed  will die from suidice

If someone you know or love has been diagnosed please take the time to read up on it. There are many really good YouTube video’s

There are  500 plus ways to be diagnosed so it’s not a one size fits all illness but there are 2 basic categories everyone ends up – rage or quiet. Some information online say 4 – either way it’s serious. My BPD is always there. Ready to jump out. Sometimes I catch it and sometimes I don’t until later.

I am blessed as I have a great resource network that I have built up over the last 3 years. The best one by far is Celebrate Recovery it is a Christian 12 step. I’ve posted the link here. I hadn’t heard of it until I really needed it and when I did I was emotionally, spiritually and literally physically dead.

I was emotionally, spiritually and literally almost physically dead.

But I took ownership of me. Was it easy? NO – absolutely – categorically  NO! 

I took mental health classes thorough my local mental health and I did the homework. I attended CR week after week.Sometimes I sat in my car for 1/2 hour to even open the door. I attended CR when I was allowed out on phys on passes. I did the 12 steps twice and I’m on my third. I attended church – I joined a small group from church. I built my network of support. New friends.

I changed my thinking behaviors – insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. If you want change you need to change the script.

I stopped using words like EVERY and ALWAYS – Every time I open a box of cereal it splits open and falls on the floor? EVERY TIME?? umm…well , you know like… twice
I ALWAYS get scratched by my friends cat? ALWAYS – well – only when I sit on her favorite chair…

I was challenged to think of 3 things to thankful for – right now…. you do it too…

  1. I have access to a computer
  2. I am in a place where I am sheltered so I can actually use a computer, so I’m not in the rain or snow or dessert
  3. I have clothes I am wearing right now

Get the idea? Small things count! Build your list – keep adding to it… maybe you can look out the window and see a bird or a tree or…

I have been dealing with this for just over 3 years now. It’s a SLOW process – It’s a hard and rocky pathway.

BPD people need other BPD people & we need other “normal” people (do they actually exist?)  okay how about other people who are dealing with other issues but no BPD so we can sort of aim for what we want to be….

A lot of people quote Jeremiah 29:11 I like 11 to 14

 Jer 29:11-11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity

Captivity that pretty much describes how I felt 3 years ago… a churning, boiling black pit – my own personal hell on earth trying to drag me down for good, It came close.

I started off this blog talking more about how everyone (in this case every fits) wants to be needed, and I have found that I am needed – but as God needs me – this isn’t a wishy-washy statement. God built me from the zygote on up. I have desires and passions inside of me just waiting to be used – I have talents. God isn’t going to push those aside and tell me to do something I have no desire to do (unless I need to learn more about humbling).

To not use my talent is a waste. I may fumble a bit while learning to utilize it – but at least I am using it.

As for being noticed – yes – I am being noticed. God is watching and I know that’s more than enough.

A Little of This, A Hard “That” & Stallions

God has been confirming where my ministry is… it is to women with mental health issues just like me. And that I will be in the trenches with them… for now at least, the physical healing has not been granted. I still deal with fatigue and down days. I have my network of accountability partners and my sponsor. I have Bible First Aid kit of verses that have given me comfort in the past. I can pray of course – and I have my sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

A couple of weeks ago I  got rattled to my soul. Satan will use anything and everything to fire darts or arrows at us – and he landed a good one. I have been stable with my meds now for just over a year. During that time I had no suicidal thoughts and I was pretty secure in thinking I had victory over them. Not so I found out…. It rattled me so hard that I felt it spiritually, emotionally and physically. I literally felt like a taser gun had hit me and it lasted for many hours. It was humbling and an awakening to not take things for granted. I had friends and family praying for me.

I’ve been working on being more meek and weak so that it will be evident that God deserves the glory and not me. God can work better if I just let Him be in charge. It is by His strength.

But meek is not a wall flower type of person… meek really means strength under control – I recall reading that the analogy of  taking a wild stallion under control – the stallion still has it ability and power but now can be used to it’s full potential.

The church we attend has been growing and is continuing to grow … and I like how the church is doing it… it’s not just bring somebody type of idea – it’s more that as we grow we have needs in our church – everyone is equipped with God given talents – passions – desires – and as a church we are going to figure out what they are for everyone – and then look at how best each person can use their gifts.

I can foresee many stallions in our church…

My eager desire and hope being that I may never feel ashamed, but that now as ever I may do honour to Christ in my own person by fearless courage. Phil. 1:20*

*Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

 

Year 3

Three years ago today, January 3, 2014, was the first day I realized I was in serious trouble. January 3 – I recall answering a simple question out loud and then saying internally

“they have no idea I want to kill myself”

This wasn’t just dealing with the blues where I took medication for 6 or so months and did some online course and all would be well.

My world was about to change drastically.

Here I am 3 years later – and yes – there have been drastic changes – some I never would have imagined. It took over 2 years to find the right combination of medications – drug changes are NEVER fun. It’s not like  Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s not barbaric… It is humbling though.

To realize that in many ways you are not in control:

  • a happy pill doesn’t exist
  • there is no magic day where the sunshine is just right to make it all go way
    • especially if you just take a nice walk and get some fresh air
  • your thoughts are going 1 million miles a minute
    • many of those thoughts can be of self- harm
    • many others are of suicide
  • many of your friends don’t know how to deal with it, so they move on
  • your family life changes
    • you HONESTLY believe your family would be SO MUCH BETTER OFF WITHOUT YOU
    • People who you had leaned on you – you now lean on them
  • at times you just want to curl up and die
    • you write suicide notes
    • you plan your funeral
  • your self-respect is gone
  • you are not who you were before all this
    • you will never be that person again
    • at 9 am you realize you are thirsty as you lie in bed
    • at 1 pm you are just more thirsty as you still lie in bed
    • having a shower is monumental
      • no joke
  • you can’t work – seriously you can’t
  • your brain is actually changed – there is a physical change
  • you are dealing with stigma
    • you realize you had been one of these people
      • people need education
  • you NEED medications
    • sometimes several
    • some have nasty side effects

Clinical Mental Health is a LIFELONG BATTLE


So – three years later – where am I at?

I’m stable – for 2 years I ran the gauntlet of admissions and med changes. I’ve been stable for just over a year.

I have 3 mental health diagnosis

  • Clinical depression
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Borderline Personality disorder (Quite type)

I’ve learned that mental health is a complex illness
some is genetics
some is environment

I’ve learned coping skills – about bad days and good days.

I’ve learned warning signs

My family has learned warning signs


The silver lining in all of this has been developing a good network of family and friends. I’ve learned about dealing with hurts and habits and hangups. I’ve learned about having a good network of family and friends.

About 5 months after my diagnosis I was in the hospital going through another medication changed. I had actually attempted suicide. My note was right on my phone – all they needed to do was swipe the screen. Obviously it didn’t work but my point is – I really couldn’t get much lower.

A friend of mine was celebrating his 60th birthday – his last thing on his bucket list and was on a different ward who I went to see – and I saw an old friend. She saw the hospital bracelet and talked to me – she invited me to CR at the church. I was released on Tuesday and on Thursday I went. There were a few people I knew from years ago – and I felt nothing other than acceptance. CR stands for Celebrate Recovery – a Christian version of the AA 12 steps but with 8 principals based on the Beatitudes of Christ. The 2nd step is what I remember from that first night

2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)*

Sanity – that’s what I was needing. I don’t remember anything else from those first days other than love and acceptance and support. I left with a few phone numbers to be able to text people. My support network was starting to build.

I’m a very blessed person. I have a loving family. I have a great network of friends who accept me just as I am – no mask needed to pretend I’m okay.

I know without a doubt if I didn’t have my support in place I would very likely be dead or a statistics homeless person.

Am I preaching about CR? I guess I am – if you had figured out a way to win the lottery – wouldn’t you share it? Check it out – it something that has been going for 25+ years.

Celebrate Recovery

*Baker, John; Baker, John. Stepping Out of Denial into God’s Grace Participant’s Guide 1 (Celebrate Recovery) (Kindle Locations 116-118). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

 

Jan 1st, Hummer & Civic 

January 1st. The day we all make promises and goals and by February 1st…  yah…

The holidays of saying happy thoughts are over… people are not in touch… the promise of getting together drifts off…

And while fading away is socially acceptable… for people struggling with mental health it can be devastating… their “happy” chemicals which came from an expanded family/friends being together is gone and now they feel sadder…more alone… maybe it’s back to the “sadder” lever it was before the holidays… let me give you an idea…think about it… it’s like you now driving that beat up old clunker to work after borrowing a much better vehicle … maybe not an Hummer, but certainly an upgrade to a nice SUV … and now it’s disappointing… you wish you had it back…

That’s what I’m talking about… yes there are happy memories…but memories don’t physically hug you… they aren’t there in person..

I guess what I’m saying is… keep that vow to see them more often… sometimes a hug can do wonders for people like myself to get a hug or a phone call… because it means we get to drive a Honda Civic for a few days