Burn a Shirt

Last weekend, I burnt a shirt. Metaphorically and literally.21751400_1692200457477199_8144551945740969824_n

Back in March, I was in the ER due to some of my mental health issues. It was evident that I would be admitted to the psychiatric unit. This wasn’t a huge deal since I had been there a time or two. The ER registration nurse came into my room, a woman I would never forget.

She had a unique name but I cant remember it. It might have been Blessing but I would have to ask the other people who were there with me. She came into my room, gave me a big hug and told me, among other encouraging words, to burn a shirt. I asked her what she meant but she just kept saying it, “burn a shirt.”

I decided that maybe this was like the phrase burn bridges – let it go, don’t look back, leave and know that it will be your last time, etc. I’ve kept this memory and I often think about the ER nurse.21740674_1692200587477186_1008601292296569814_n

As you probably know, I was back in the hospital again. I spent a few days there and the memory of the ER nurse came back to me. I knew what I had to do.

I left the unit on Monday, sneaking out the scrub shirt that was mandatory to wear. They wouldn’t miss one or even see that one was gone. My plan: take it home and burn it.

That is what I did. Last weekend, I had a celebration of life and a dedication to a new start. This ceremony didn’t take long and it only consisted of me and my parents, but I think this was very beneficial. I am starting again on a clean slate. I am forgiving myself of the past and looking forward to the future. I am going to stay out of the hospital. I am going to recover.

 

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I’m ready to live again…

I am at the point where I want to change, I want to get better. I’m going to work very hard on this, especially these next few weeks.

Here is the game plan:

  • Exercise. I am going to start by walking my dog every day. I want to start running again too. Maybe I’ll sign up for a 5k?
  • Biblical counseling. My church does Biblical Counseling and so I am going to get that started. I believe if I am following God, my life will look better. I will also learn how to cope in better ways.
  • Food. I’m not going to say I’m going to eat healthier because I know that is an unrealistic goal at this point. But I am going to say that I want to ask my doctors and therapist about being a vegetarian and if that has anything to do with my mental illness. I want to also MAYBE start eating meat again. I think this would help me physically too.
  • Work. I’m about to quit my job. Next semester I plan to get a work study job. (I cant this year because of FASFA.)
  • Routine. I’m going to make a study schedule. I need to focus on my classes and my health.
  • Therapy. There is a lot I could say here but I guess my main goal is to become more recovery focused in therapy. I want to start making goals so that we can get things done. I also want to work on getting out of therapy or being less dependent on her.
  • Campus Bible study. Tomorrow I am planning on going to a Bible study. I want to be more active and involved in my faith.
  • Family therapy. Ugh. The two most dreaded words. But if this is a key step in recovery then I guess we better do it.

I am so determined to get better. I don’t want to keep living like this. But it is also very scary. I’ve been ‘sick’ for so long I’m scared of the change. I’m scared of what it will be like.

I know that there are far better things ahead. I am excited to see my life get better but scared of the unknown. These goals are just the beginning as I really need to follow through with them. I am ready to live again.

Friday, September 15th

I have a lot I could write about, but I cant seem to organize the words.

Last week I had another setback in my recovery. I spent six days in the hospital. It was very different in many ways. First of all, since I am over 18 years old and out of high school, I was moved to the adult unit. It was very scary at first. There are lots of changes from the adolescent unit to the adult unit – different nurses, different rules, different schedule, etc. There was also strict visiting hours. This meant my parents/family could only come visit me at certain times for only so long. I actually kind of liked this part. I love my parents and family but it’s tough when you’re in this situation.

Another major difference was that I didn’t have anyone else visit me in the hospital. This hurts on many different levels but primarily, it shows how different mental illness is from physical illness. I figured a pastor from my church would at least stop by to say something. To make one thing very clear, I am not looking for attention. I just see other people visit people in the hospital when they are physically ill, so why is mental illness so different? I understand how visiting a psych unit could be scary but we’re still human…

I’ve been hospitalized maybe five times but I have never felt God so present in the hospital before than this last time. Maybe it was because of the extent of what got me there (a serious overdose). Maybe it was that I was praying more. I don’t know. To be quite honest, God and I aren’t doing so well. The few days leading up to this incident I had been bargaining with Him, pleading that He might just take me home now. I am not bitter towards Him anymore, and it’s not apathy or resentment… maybe just honesty? Raw, vulnerable, intimate, anger or hurt? Yet I am not afraid to tell Him and that is what is so beautiful about this.
During my time, I also read the majority of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book. I am not an alcoholic, but I believe that if I had more opportunity to drink, I would abuse it. I knew an alcoholic who told me she knew she was going to become an alcoholic from her first drink. In some ways, I can relate to that. This book is so much more than a self-help book. I saw God through it. I saw change in myself. I don’t know how to explain this supernatural feeling, but I know it was Him.

I am looking and searching for Jesus. Our relationship is messy and beautiful. He is good to me and gave me life. I don’t know what He is thinking, but I know He is good.

 

the next chapter

The summer is coming to a close as I start my first year of college tomorrow. The summer was a hard one… It was filled with some bad times. My meds went out of whack and I almost ended up at the hospital again. I’m actually kind of surprised that I didn’t go. I had a relapse in self harm and my depression was at its worst.

I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life. A new school with new teachers and classes, a new group of people, a new atmosphere, etc. I am feeling more confident about going to this school. The other day my mom and I walked around campus and found all of my classes. I am the most nervous about meeting my professors. I believe everything will turn out alright. As for my major, I am keeping an opened mind that it might change. My plan is to spend two years at this community college then transfer to the University of Northern Iowa to major in Leisure, Youth, and Human Services to become a recreational therapist. I might change it to social work though. I’m still trying to figure things out and it will be a process.

The summer was one that I will remember. I will remember it as the summer I’ve overcome. The crippling depression and anxiety did not win. I have fought hard to overcome this. On the tough days, I showed myself love and compassion. I used self-care. I will overcome. I will not let this define me.


Highlights from this summer:

  • My brother and SIL’s wedding reception
  • Graduating high school
  • Helping out with VBS
  • Seeing my family from Peru
  • Farmers market
  • Small day trips
  • Starting emdr
  • My family camping trip
  • Started a new job
  • Excessive cleaning

 

Welcome to Iowa!

This past weekend was filled with so much joy, celebration, and laugher. Thursday night my family from Peru came to stay with us. My mom’s brother was a missionary in Peru and eventually met, fell in love, and married a Peruvian woman. They have four children: Marcos (18), Lucas (16), Sara (14), and Jennifer (11). Jennifer was not able to come to the States as she is still in the long process of being adopted. They have been in the US for three weeks and came to Iowa to celebrate John and Maddy’s wedding reception.

My brother John and sister in law Maddy got married two years ago. They had a very small wedding with only immediate family invited. John was in the Marines and they waited to have a reception once he got out of the military. The wedding party was so fun! I loved every minute of it and it seemed to go by too fast.

My family from Peru are staying here in the US for four months. Marcos is going to a Bible college in Wyoming. I will see them again in November for our family reunion. Their time here in CR went by very fast too. I loved hanging out with them. I have learned so much from their short stay. I learned about Peruvian culture, music, food, games, customs, the language, and every day life. My aunt Techy even made us some Peruvian green rice! It was very good.

I am looking forward to seeing them in November again. It is hard to say goodbye when you don’t know when you will see them again…

 

 

Vacation Bible School!

It is already Wednesday and it has been another successful year of VBS. This was my first time helping with VBS. A few months ago a woman asked me if I would be able to help with it and I thought, ‘well why not?!’ When the time came I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to as I didn’t take any days off of work. By God’s grace, I wasn’t scheduled to work those three days. I really believe that God put me there on purpose.

I was hesitant to be a volunteer at VBS because 1) it wasn’t even my church, 2) I’m very introverted, and 3) I wouldn’t consider myself great with little kids. I love kids, don’t get me wrong but they definitely test my patience. God really took me out of my comfort zone and surprisingly, it was awesome.

I had a total of 10 kids. Originally 11 but the eleventh child didn’t show up. These kids ranged from kindergarten to sixth grade. I was very overwhelmed at first by having to be responsible for 10 kids AND know their names. Eventually I figured it out and had a great time getting to know them.

Our theme was over Romans. We talked about how God’s gift of eternal life is free to us through Jesus. The next day we went over Romans 3:23, we all have sinned but nothing can separate us from His love for us. Today we talked about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, Romans 5:8.

I had doubts at first that the younger ones wouldn’t fully grasp it, that they would just goof of and probably wouldn’t even care. To my surprise the kindergartener, the youngest one there, was probably one of the most focused kids we had. He knew his Bible. He loved Jesus.

All over scripture Jesus talks about children. Have faith like a child. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Let the little ones come to Me. Children inheriting the Kingdom of God. I could go on. This was the biggest thing that VBS taught me. Kids are very smart. They are vulnerable. They have so much faith and belief. They aren’t afraid to ask questions.  I was blown away by these ten children.

My prayer is that the kids I worked with will remember these three short days. That they will be filled with the joy of God and remember His truth.

Thank you Lord for these kids.

 

Hello again!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted so I thought I’d do a little update today.

School starts in less than two weeks and I am beyond excited. But I am also a little conflicted about it. For most of my life I have dreamed of doing missions work in Asia,  specifically Korea. During the summer while I have disappeared from God these ideas briefly left. I had changed my plans and thought about going into human services, which is something else I am deeply passionate about. Now as I am growing closer with God again, I can feel this pull to do more… to help immigrants, go to Korea, move out of Cedar Rapids to somewhere more diverse, etc. I am going into my freshman year of college, I have a ton of time to decide. Part of me really wishes that I was going to a Bible college instead of a community college. God will lead me. He knows what he’s doing.

Right now I am helping out with Vacation Bible School (VBS). It started yesterday and it will end on Wednesday. I have been so blessed. I am in a group with eleven wonderful kids ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. I love these children and I am learning so much from them. It has been great.

This weekend my family from Peru is coming to visit for my brother John’s wedding reception. I am excited to see them as it has been years since we last saw each other. I am also very excited for John and Maddy’s wedding reception.

Mentally and emotionally, it has been very up and down. The past two weeks I have done really well but before that it was all a struggle. June was by far the worst month I’ve had in a long time. Three weeks ago I started EMDR. It has been helpful but also very hard. EMDR is very interesting and I wish I knew how to explain it better. I have therapy twice a week and I am emotionally exhausted. It is good for me though and I do believe it is helping.

Well that is all I can think of right now!

 

I wish I had more inspiration to write, but the depression is relentless. I’ve been stuck for over a month and the depression is at its worst. This week my goal is to do the opposite of what the depression is telling me to do. i.e. if the depression is saying “stay home and isolate” I will get out of bed and find somewhere to go to be around people.

I am determined to overcome this.

This week I am also starting the new process of EMDR. Tuesday (tomorrow) I am meeting with a woman who specializes in EMDR and she will be added into my support team. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I am hopeful that this will help me.

This isn’t much but I am thankful for those who have stuck with me during this process. I am truly determined to overcome and heal. Thank you again!

healing

When I was in St. Louis for my senior trip, we visited a church Sunday morning. The church was beautiful and big. It had stain glass windows and a big cross in the sanctuary. The sermon was about healing and how God is faithful to heal us. The pastor talked about mental illness and physical illness, but mostly about how God has the power to heal us.

It was encouraging and when my van of kids got back together we had a great discussion about God’s healing.

“I liked the sermon but you know, sometimes God doesn’t heal us.”

“I don’t think that our illness necessarily needs to be healed. I don’t think we should look at our pain or suffering as something that needs to be healed or fixed.”

I agree with these comments. Sometimes God doesn’t heal. Sometimes people deal with an illness for the rest of their life. Some people die because of their illness. I know that in my life God has not yet healed me and I don’t know if he ever will. It’s not that I don’t trust God, it’s that I believe my mental illness is my ‘thorn in the flesh’ as Apostle Paul put it. This mental illness keeps abiding in him and focused on God.

Secondly, why look at it as it needs to be healed? Why does my depression and anxiety need to be healed? Because it will make me happier? Because it will make my life more comfortable? No. Apostle Paul writes in Corinthians that ‘when I am weak, then I am strong.’ He is able to show himself when I am weak.

Dear Abba,

Abba, I need you. My heart is tired from wandering on its own and my soul thirsts for your life. Even though I don’t feel you, I know that the presence of God is not a feeling, you are here. I cannot do this on my own anymore. Abba, I run to you like a child runs to their father after not seeing him in awhile.

Change my heart, Lord. I know that you are good and you have good things waiting for me. How great you are Lord, that I can run to you and call you my papa. You do not get tired of me, you do not get angry with me and leave me. Father you love me and pick me back up after I fall.

Abba, I want to fall in love with you again. I want to know who you are, not the facts, I want to love you. Because loving you means that I can trust you. Show me who you are. Open my eyes and heart to you and your work. I want to love you.

Into your hands I commit my life. Your provision has never failed me and I doubt it ever will. So I give you my life, life or death, do with it as you please. I want to follow you and your perfect plan. I will die for you because you are good and your glory will shine through my life. Lord I give you my all.

As I go out today, let your light shine through me. Let others see you in me. Guide my actions and motives. Father I need you. I cannot do this alone. Abba, Father. I love you.