Day 33

Day 33 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

This is my life. When I finally received a diagnosis it was so relieving because somebody could finally describe to me what the heck was going on with my brain and emotions. I am high functioning in my illness and have been really fortunate to have lived a really amazing life so far, with lots left to life.  I have also had great resources and support systems. God has been so good to me and I can see His hand on my life and my days. But, this is still my life. 

  • Complex PTSD is a very isolating, exhausting and devastating severe illness. It has been referred to as the psychiatric equivalent of cancer.
  • It affects every part of your life, magnifying every problem intensely and affecting daily function.
  • PTSD is a very severe, but normal reaction to severe abnormal trauma. But, there are days, weeks, when I feel so far from normal.
  • Complex PTSD affects every relationship/friendship I have, with my husband, my children, my friends. People, have no idea the impact they cause when they hurt someone with Complex PTSD.
  • Complex PTSD makes you never want to trust anyone, because every time you do, you get hurt and the cost is too high.
  • Complex PTSD is a devastating, life threatening, exhausting, disabling, isolating, extremely painful severe psychiatric illness.
  • Complex PTSD does not “get healed” or “go away”. However, with help a victim can learn to avoid triggers and learn to manage the symptoms.
  • It does require specialized, professional therapy.

Day 26

Day 26 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

My birthday is in two days.  For the entirety of my adult life while I enjoy my birthday and actively promote it, I also dread it. I don’t dread getting older. I actually like myself at my age. I’m still active, I’m young enough to enjoy my kids’ company and their jokes, and I look young enough to get carded.  It is just one of those crazy calendar related brain triggers that happen.  I don’t have horrible memories of birthdays or holidays. It’s just that birthday +/- three months is a season of depression for me.  I struggle with motivation, getting out of bed, interaction, parties etc.

This was especially hard as a pastor.  I have a love hate relationship with the holidays but especially Christmas. Advent is such a precious season. However I always feel like the storekeeper, not a participant. I feel as if I have put together a wonderful window display for everyone to enjoy and I stand watching them enjoy, celebrate, live and love it . . .  from the inside of the window, as if I’m trapped there. Its elusive. I just can’t quite get to the point where my senses embrace it.

In two days it will arrive. The season. Maybe this year will be different.

Day 10

Day 10 of 100, intentional, reflective steps.

Often when we pass the homeless our internal radar says “addict” or “mentally ill.” We shake our head, mentally make the sign of the cross and fling a “bless them” prayer out the car window. There is a sneaky, haughty, subconscious voice in me that has made a “them” category in my brain.

I comfort myself with the idea that I have always been accepting ofthe mentally ill.  I have advocated for “their” meds and therapy. I have tried  to be non-judgemental.  Until I was the one who was facing a diagnosis. The mirror of self realization is like a 360 dressing room mirrors in the fluorescent light of judgment. Horrifying. The instant it dawned on me that I was struggling with mental illness, self imposed judgment began swirling around me like Hitchock’s birds.

Where once learning disorders, depression/anxiety and addictions were completely unacceptable to talk about, it has now become open forum. However, when you tag  anybody with “mental illness”  fear, judgment and feelings of superiority/insuperiority enter the picture.  The truth is depression and anxiety are mental illnesses. Some can be treated with exercise, food choices, less caffeine, etc. However, some is chemical and needs medication, just like all other medical illnesses.

My challenge has been this. Shame. I feel shameful admitting that I need a team of professionals to keep me on the level. Even though I know accepting the help of others does not diminish me as a person at all I feel shame. In fact admitting the complexities of my illness does not diminish me either. I am like so many others that I love and deeply respect, on a journey of health and wholeness. My goal? To walk this journey on a road paved with gratitude for all those who walk with me and those who help me stay on the path. Less judgment. More gratitude.

Side lesson: I am attempting to acknowledge myself and others by their personhood before their ailment. “A baby with Down’s Syndrome” rather than “that downs syndrome baby.” “Jill has mental illness/depression” rather than “Jill is mentally ill.”  Words matter.

Day 9

Day 9 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

I woke up early today. I was really disappointed about that, not because I needed extra sleep  but because I hadn’t yet formed my brain into something to look forward to today.  See, I used to wake up with a laundry list of tasks and if there was no list, there was always, well . .. laundry.  The point is, even if I felt purposeless, the tasks at hand, my drive to succeed and/or my sense of over responsibility would drag me through the day until I found something that felt like a lot like meaning to hang on to.

Now my day, almost every day, has no schedule or calendar to march me through the day.  Instead I have a smorgasbord, a veritable feast of time laid out in front of me with all sorts of delicious possibilities. Only I’m not hungry.  Why force myself to participate or choose off that buffet when there is no internal motivation?

I have close friends and family I don’t call or visit; mostly because I can’t imagine that they would really want to take time out of their meaning-filled lives of changing the world to deal with me. There are so many relationships that hang in the air like dangling sentences just begging for a punctuation to complete them. This one should be a period because the relationship ended or should. Another is a questions mark leaving possibilities and still others are a comma, just waiting for my permission to write the next sentence.

There are personal “projects” to attend to. Exercise, walking, planning and cooking healthy meals and journal writing. There are also household projects to tackle, wedding decorations to think about, and tons of crafts that could be made for the holidays.  Well, hang me on a tree and call me bored. All that seems like a big pile of meh to me. The question of how to take care of oneself against crohn’s diease is important.

It is a weird black hole to fall into where nobody has any expectations on your daily life.  It is there you begin to realize how much our lives revolve around the expectation of others. At one time I had no time to catch my breath. Now I have the advantage of all the time in the world. Sadly, it all seems like play money, useless to spend and meaningless to even try.

However, everyday I put something on my calendar and try to have an idea of something I would like to do. Because I can. Because I’m alive and I have my health and my breath.  Because I have beautiful children and a lovely home to be grateful for.  And ultimately because as long as I’m alive I will choose to really live  with all that is in me.

Day 3

“What one does is what counts. Not what one 
had the intention  of doing.” Pablo Picasso 

Day 3 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

I love intentionality. I consult business about it, I write and preach about it. But the fact is, this blog is a result of my need for intentionality in my day to day life.

All day, everyday, depression lays like a heavy, inviting, itchy, smelly blanket. You may want to leave that smelly cocoon but it is too damn heavy to move by yourself. At the same time, you want to stay in your blanket cave . You are fully aware that its a cold world out there and so shedding the blanket sounds stupid. Plus what if someone stole your familiar away? What if you were never able to find it again?! This is depression.

Everyday, all day, I think about what I need to do. Controlling my food, exercising, praying, reading to keep up with business, education, marketing and spiritual trends, calling friends, visiting family, cleaning my house, cooking meals, loving neighbors etc. All those obligations and things that keep us interacting with the world. Isn’t that the expectation? Show up? Shed the blanket? “Do I,t” they say. “It’ll be fun,” they say. “Do it today.”

Today? Really? See, that “starting today” thing is always the rake I step on. Every project, thought and decision of my life seems stuck in the starting blocks. I guess if I want things to stay as they are, that will work. But I don’t. So today it is.

My first decision was to blog every day. It represents my decision to go from hobbyist to writer.  Serious pen to paper, or in this case, broken nail bed to portable cheap keyboard. I have finally decided that this is one of the gifts God has given me and it’s time to polish it and see if it shines.So far, three days.