“Kindred Spirits, Always” (In Which I Discover How Much I Need Friends)

Well I had promised you a post today, and I even had one in mind that I wanted to write about. (Maybe I still will, and you can see it next week or maybe even get two posts in one week.) But it didn’t get written because I fell asleep and took a long nap. So originally I decided I would write it tomorrow, but since I’m lying in bed and can’t sleep yet, I decided I might write a different post from my phone (thanks WordPress app).

Tonight I am especially thankful for my friends. I’ve kind of gone through a rough depressive episode over the last few months, and I dealt with it by withdrawing from almost everyone but my immediate family. Maybe I needed that time completely to myself, but now I regret dropping out of the lives of so many that I cared about. Perhaps it could have made things easier if I was connecting with people the way I should have. We weren’t meant to do life alone, but in my dark days, I was trying to.

Slowly over the last month I have begun to reconnect with people and friends, whether that’s online on Facebook, by finally shooting them a text again, or starting to hang out once more. Friends are important, and they are a gift. I want to learn to be more real with them, to allow them to support me in my struggles and that they can let me support them as well.

It is worth learning to let people in. It’s worth learning to trust them, to trust they won’t run away when things get hard. Some of them really do want to be there for you no matter what…let’s learn to let them. And to be thankful for them.

I finally texted one of my dearest friends tonight after being silent for a few months, feeling so guilty for neglecting such a special friendship. I asked her to forgive me. She responded right away, starting with “Precious Katy…” and sweet forgiving words of love. She ended “Let’s catch up more soon ok? I love you… We are kindred spirits always.”

Her sweet response drew me to tears. That’s what I’m so thankful for: the blessing and gift of unconditional friendships and love. May we seek to be that, to cultivate it, and to hold onto it as we treasure it always.

Thank you to the friends who have always been there for me. You know who you are. I love you and am thankful for you.

Being real

I’ve been considering blogging again/more. (I once read that the cardinal rule of blogging is to never talk about lack of blogging or about renewed efforts/decision to blog more, but there you go.) I knew that if I were to really, honestly blog, it might involve a large amount of honesty and “being real.” I wondered if I was ready for that. In the past it was so much easier to be real about my struggles, and I’m not sure if age and wisdom or fear has tempered that. But here I am, and I thought I’d give it a shot.

I’ve had another recent run-in with my old friends, depression and anxiety. The collision was to the point that I had to withdraw from another semester of school and temporarily pull out of my job on unpaid sick leave. I have now spent two weeks at a Christian counseling center in CA, getting more intensive and concentrated help to overcome the depression and anxiety. It’s been hard; it’s been grueling. Most days I’m exhausted from the work and the therapy. But there you go, and here I am.

I used to talk a lot more online about my depression punctuated by bouts of anxiety. Again, I’m not sure what has tempered that more as the years have gone by. But one thing I still believe is that open and honest conversation about these kinds of things can help erase some of the stigma associated with it. It can help others open up about their own struggles; it can help us feel less alone. So I’m writing and letting you know what I’m going through. I hope that if you’re struggling, it will help you know you’re not alone. I hope if you know someone who’s struggling, you might be encouraged to reach out and offer to be a listening ear. And wherever you are, I hope that it helps us all realize that we don’t have to let fears or stigma define us. Real is real. Let’s be real, and maybe we’ll all end up a little better for it.

And most of all, I need to say that God is faithful. No matter what, God is faithful in ALL things. Always.

Ready for it to be done

I’m not gonna lie: it’s hard. And a lot of times I wish I was someone other than “me.”
I get really tired of depression. I get really tired of fighting it, and fighting anxiety. I’m tired of the pain in my chest when I sit panicked by the world.
Please just leave me alone.
I want to get better. I really do. And I try, and I fail, and I take more medicines, and I pray that they work.
My chest hurts so bad right now. It kills me to sit here every minute. I just want it over with. I’m ready for it to be gone.
It hurts, and it makes me want to cry. I’m ready for it to be done.
I just want to be normal, but I know that everyone hurts. Everyone hurts. But they’re not the ones sitting here in a battle that’s gone on for weeks. They don’t have to count the number of days since they broke their own skin for blood. Or maybe some of them do. But if they do, they’re like me — they know the pain, they’re tired of the war. We’re ready for it to be done.
One day it will end — hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Praise Him for the day that will come where sorrow will be no more. Every tear wiped dry, every eye clear, every heart glad. I can praise Him for that.
But for now, I sit here…and the pain in my chest just aches.
I’m ready for it to be done.

My Birthday

26. I am now 26. Crazy. Kinda feels like 25. Except I know it’s moving me into the latter half of my twenties. And that brings me back to “crazy.”

Today’s been an amazing day! I’m so thankful. I’ve had such happiness, gratitude, and joy. My parents texted bright and early to wish me a happy birthday. My friends/co-workers at DBU have made my day truly amazing. From gifts to hugs, to Chik-Fil-A lunches and cake, it’s been amazing. I really wish I could tell you how wonderful each one of them is, and how special they have made my day.

My sister has exclaimed all day about my birthday and how, for this one day, I get to be four years older than she is this year. We’re going to see a movie tonight after work also. She is amazing. She loves me more than most ever could, and she’s the reason I’ve made it this far. I adore her. It will be my joy to celebrate her birthday tomorrow, too.

After several weeks of deeper depression, I have been blessed to feel happy on my birthday. Thank you, Lord. It’s a beautiful gift.

In response to my last birthday wish post, I know of at least four women who have donated to Mercy Ministries in honor of my birthday. I’m SO thankful for that. The young women at Mercy deserve hope and healing; thank you to the women who helped contribute to that, including Catlin and Rachel.

In response to a my selfish birthday wish Tweet, I got a direct message from Jamie Tworkowski, founder of TWLOHA and a true hero of mine, that wished me a happy birthday. It’s one of the coolest things to happen to me today. AND shortly after that, Renee Yohe just followed me on Twitter. If you don’t know, she’s the story and inspiration behind To Write Love On Her Arms, or the “HER” in that title. I’m still floored. She’s been such a huge inspiration in my life.

So, I’m 26. My friends and family are amazing. I bought a birthday dress to wear today, and I felt pretty. My God gave me the blessed gift of life and happiness today.  So all in all…it’s a “crazy” day, in the very best way.

If you can take me as I am

I’m gonna write this a little bit more like I used to write some of my posts. I used to be really open about the things I struggled with; I wrote and dealt with them more in my posts. But I learned that sometimes there was a time and place for that kind of disclosure, so I pulled back some. Also, some of it became less intense, less all-encompassing, less severe, so I had less to write about.

In case you haven’t read most (or any) of past blog posts (on here or MySpace) about my journey (and/or if you don’t know me), I had my first deep depressive episode at 14. At age 17, I spiraled down and was diagnosed with “major depressive disorder.” Since then, I have continually been on medicine, in and out of counseling/treatment as needed, and dealing with the low(er)(est) times of depression as they came.

This week, I felt the depression kicking in. Hardcore. Had several very low days in a row, and then yesterday my mood was determined to kick my butt. I had to go home from work, having worked myself up with anxiety to the point of getting physically sick. I went home and tried to numb myself out with a TV show…but of course it was sad, and then suddenly I was crying…and then I was sobbing. Like, the gut-wrenching sobs that you think are going to tear your heart out. I’m familiar with it,  the pain that takes over my mind and spreads into my chest, the despairing anguish. I double over just to contain the agony, to keep it from tearing me apart. And the world is bleak, and I’m more than alone, and I’m hopeless. I sleep just so I can shut my mind off, and shut the world out.

In case that’s not enough info for you, at this point I’ll take it a step further: all I wanted to do was die. I long for death. I constantly fight to not go back to the self-injurious habits I’ve had in the past. When I think off the years and years of this cycle, of feeling and falling into and living in these dark, dark places…where my mind betrays me and won’t think in Truth or accept any Goodness or Hope…where I lose motivation or joy in anything…when I think of all these things, first I fight not to hurt myself, and then I beg God to take me home. I beg Him for relief, I beg for death, the one thing that will take me to the place I long for, the place without pain. And I hurt, and I’m angry, that this is a battle I have to face day after day for far too long.

25-year-olds aren’t supposed to pray to die.

And yet, here I am. In that place. Again.

I asked people to pray for me. I prayed for today, that I could make it and endure after the terrible, hellish bleakness of the day before. And it was ok. I still had some of the lowness, the anxiety. But I started to smile some. I started to make people laugh, which made me happy. I had people show they care, and that made me feel loved. And then I met with a group of people, and for part of our meeting, we dove into Scripture and talked about an amazing passage and what it meant.

And I came home tonight and felt…peace. I sat here with a smile on my face where last night I sat in tears.

To me? That is a picture of God’s grace. He doesn’t have to be the lifter of my head, but He is. He doesn’t have to give joy that sustains me, but He does. And He doesn’t have to be the Love that still saves me every day from myself…but He is. He is beautiful, and the most precious thing in my life. Nothing compares with Him; I have no reason to keep living and fighting without Him. But He is mine, and I am His. And that is good news, my friends. It is beautiful, life-changing news.

If you need to know how He can change your life or save you, get in touch with me. And if you’re needing some encouragement, I’d be happy to pray with and for you.

Also, a special, precious tool in my life has been To Write Love on Her Arms. If you’re struggling with some of these issues, this group has encouraged me along my journey for the last 4 years. They would be a great place to turn.

Thank you for letting me be real. I hope I have not shared more than I should have, but I hope that if I can let you see me at my rawest, you will see even more how good God is to replace the dead ashes of my life with Beauty…and I believe that Beauty is knowing Him.

Mental Health Care = Priceless?

So I have a friend who is looking into seeing a counselor. Nothing is “majorly” wrong, he just (like most of us) has some things to work through. As someone who has seen many counselors, I know how much it has benefited my life and helped me become a healthier, stronger person. So my friend was given a recommendation of a great Christian counselor to see. As he looked into it, each session would cost $110. Insurance wouldn’t help pay for any of that until he had spent over $800. His options? To look elsewhere and see what he can afford.

I went to buy one of four prescription medicines I take. My employer had just changed my insurance, so before I handed them my new card, I saw that one of month’s worth of the generic prescription medicine I was about to buy was over $125. I am incredibly blessed that insurance helps cover it, because otherwise I’m not sure I could afford to be on one, much less the four medicines I take.

As I sat in the drive-through waiting to get my medicine, I was struck by the sadness of what mental health care costs. I know of people who deal with incredibly difficult issues, who really need physical and mental care…except they can’t afford it. So what’s worse than being depressed, bi-polar, or just working through hard times? The added stress and frustration of not being able to get the help you need to make it through.

In my counseling class last Monday, my professor talked about the privilege we have of walking with people in their pain. That’s what counselors get to do. That’s what I want to do. It makes me sad that we have to put a price tag on that process.

I don’t know what I’ll be like as a counselor, or even how/where I’ll be using those counseling skills. But I do know, if possible, I want to make it affordable. Yes, I know that medicines and professional care can/has to/should cost a little. But I hope that even if we aren’t professionals, we are willing to reach out to people who are going through hard times. Because no one should have to pay for someone to walk with them through their pain.

3 steps to save a life

Today is a temporary break from M&M Mondays and instead is:

Make-a-Difference Monday

I am basically copying and pasting this from PostSecret’s blog, but I pass it on because it’s something I deeply believe in.

===From the PostSecret blog===

Chase Bank will donate $1,000,000 toward the first online suicide-prevention volunteer network. But we need your help.

We need your online votes to win the prize and start the IMAlive Network. Here’s what you can do now.

1. Vote for TWLOHA (it only takes a minute).

2. Ask your friends to help (especially on Facebook & twitter).

3. Volunteer to man (or woman) the Help Center.

Thanks for taking 3 steps today, to help save lives tomorrow.

===end of post===

Please sign up to vote and help save lives. Also, if you’ve already voted for a cause, Chase Bank gives you 5 votes, so please use one of yours to help TWLOHA and the IMAlive network as well. Voting ends January 22.

Thanks for taking a moment to make a difference.