Summer, blogging, etc.

Here it comes: SUMMER!

Yes, the semester is ending, (my) finals are done, and the summer stretches before us. And my thoughts turn to the novel idea: “Hey, what if I start blogging more again now that I have time on my hands?”

And so here I am.

Granted, I don’t have anything specific in mind to write, so prepare for rambling. Granted, I have a summer class that starts May 31, so I really don’t have long to enjoy this “summer off” concept. But perhaps I can try to write a bit more. (I know, I tend to blog like a sputtering car: start, accelerate, sputter, die, repeat.)

It IS a good feeling to have those finals off my chest. I turned in my last one (essentially a six page essay/paper) tonight, after taking one online last night. I love the relief, the release I feel when those things are over. It’s as though suddenly I feel the lightness of something that has gone missing from my life: i.e., the stress of homework. It’s delightful. (As I’ve said, let’s all pretend May 31 and my summer class doesn’t exist.)

Today was also the last day of work for two student workers who have been in our office ever since I arrived at my job. They have become good, dear friends to me, and I’m sad to see them go.

Finally, I am learning to keep my eyes fixed on Christ. I had a rough weekend, but I am learning to focus on the greatness and might of the Lord over the size of my circumstances or struggles. He is my Ebenezer, my stone of help, and through His help I have made it this far. He is good, and I praise Him for His faithfulness in my life.

May you find Him faithful in your life this week in a special 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.

The things that get you through the day

The last couple of nights I’ve been having a hard time getting decent sleep. So the sleep-deprivation was building, which of course affects my mood, energy, etc. In sum, it sets the stage for some rougher days.

But today, even though it wasn’t the easiest day and there were some rough (even some dark) patches, these are what got me through the day:

  • Coffee, coffee, coffee! And I mean each of those words literally, because I had three cups of coffee. Those gave me the energy to make it through the morning.
  • Sonic run at lunch. I was starting to feel kind of down, and decided I needed some time to myself. So I took a drive to Sonic, listened to some music, got a LARGE Diet Dr. Pepper and a small fries to munch on. I returned to campus and sat in my car for a bit, and even leaning my chair back to close my eyes and rest before work.
  • A better, calmer mindset after lunch and the ability to get some more projects done. And of course the girls in my office who make me smile.
  • 30 Day Shred, Level 2!!! That’s right, I hit up a kick-butt routine. I came home and was struggling more with just feeling “blah” and tense inside. But tell you what, that workout knocked it right out of me. It was such a relief to physically tell I was feeling better.
  • Getting to watch So You Think You Can Dance while eating yummy fiber cereal. It was awesome

Well my sleep medicine is kicking in, so now I’m excited to head to bed. But just wanted to share these things in my day. Every good and perfect gift is from God, and I worship him for blessing us with the little things to make it through these days.

PS – Oh, I forgot to mention the awesome new To Write Love On Her Arms shirt that I ordered…and arrived today! Check out a full pic of the shirt and others like it HERE.

What Christmas means to me

Free Friday

Guess what, guess what? It’s CHRISTMAS DAY!

I love Christmas. I love the season, I love the lights, I love putting up the tree, I love the Christmas music, I love the gift-getting and giving, and I love being with family. All in all, it’s a season I love.

It’s also a season about love. Well, really, it’s about the Greatest Love the world has ever known. I’m pretty sure most of you know Christmas is somehow, more or less, about the birth of Jesus. (Or is it Santa? Are the two related?) And most of you know various degrees of the story about Jesus. If you’ll indulge me, I wanna tell my side of that story. This is how I understand it:

A really long time ago, God made the world. He made mankind. And early in creation, we chose our own selfish way over God’s. He was perfect and holy, we chose not to be, and we were separated from him. Guess what? That broke God’s heart. He made us to live in close relationship with him, so he made a plan to bring us back to himself. The plan came as a baby, Jesus Christ, born on Christmas. Jesus was God living as a man. He lived the sinless life we could never live and died the death our sins deserve (and that death was for all of us, because all of us have sinned). And when we trust in Jesus, he makes us right with God again. Which means when we die, it’s not really death–we go on to be with God forever.

I can’t explain that whole story above, because it involves a God I can’t explain. I can’t explain how Jesus was both God and both human, but I believe it. I can’t explain why a perfect and holy God would think we are worth saving, but I believe it. So when I think of Christmas, it’s not just about all those great things I listed above. It’s about a mending of humanity. It’s about God taking a fallen world and offering it hope in this life and, even more importantly, for the life to come. It’s about the greatest gift the world has ever known. It’s about the chance to accept the gift that will change your life.

So when I talk about what Christmas means to me, I’m not just talking about lights and presents. I’m talking about a real baby that showed up one night in the arms of a young mother. I’m talking about the man he became, the death he died, the life he gives now. I’m talking about Jesus, the gift from God that has saved my life and my soul.

If you want to know more about how Jesus has changed my life or how he can change yours, please leave me a comment or write to me at katy@sr21.com.

Regrets

Disclaimer: If you’re looking for a light, happy, superficial post or are not ready for some raw honesty, please do not read.

regret-main_Full

Lately, it seems as though the struggles and demons from my past have a way of catching up with me.

I dealt with severe depression full-time since I was about 17. Only in the last year has it begun to be less constant, less every-day. It has affected me in more ways that I can say. I have learned a lot and changed a lot since then. I’m not who I was.

But who I was still catches up with me. Sometimes it’s in a relapse, such as a few days of a depressive episode of even in the form of self-injury. It’s been two years since I have cut myself seriously, but I have had my moments where it’s happened again on smaller-scales.

Sometimes it catches up in the form of consequences. I made many bad decisions while depressed and allowed things to happen that I should not have. I didn’t care or couldn’t care. I was desperate for some sort of escape. After a while it didn’t matter what happened to me anymore. On some level I suppose I thought I didn’t deserve any better.

I have learned now, though, that while I didn’t care what happened to me, I had now idea how it would affect me later. And it hurts most when I see it hurting the people I care about. And I have been reminded vividly of that in the last few days. I have seen both relapses and consequences hurt the people who love me. It breaks my heart. I want to run away and hide and take all my bad decisions with me. I want to hide in a cave where it’s just me and my regrets, where they are hidden and silent and cannot affect another person.

The only problem is that it’s not possible. And when you try, it just traps you in darkness with your regrets.

God has forgiven me. He has saved me from myself. I am being made new every day. But the past still lurks. I still have regrets. I still cry over what happened. And more than anything, I still have to figure out how to forgive myself…and hope that others do, too.

He gave me rain

So today was kind of a hard day. Ok, I take it back. It was a very hard day.

I took my sister to meet up with my parents; we had lunch and then I traded her off to them. She went home, and I headed back for work. Then the hardest part of my day came.

Sometimes you have to do things in life that really hurt. Things you don’t want to do. But you know you need to. Still hurts. Then sometimes other things happen to make it even more hurtful.

But two things happened later this evening:

The storm came in. The sky darkened, the lightning signaled, the thunder spoke. And the rain came.

There’s a certain kind of ice cream I love. I can almost never find it at Wal-Mart. I found it today at 7-11 which almost never has anything. I was going to go to McDonalds for an M&M McFlurry. That sounded better. But something told me to go to 7-11. There it was. My ice cream.

I came home. I went outside. It was raining. A real rain, not the pathetic sprinkle that we most often get in Texas. And it got heavier. And harder. And I knelt on the ground and cried. And prayed. And cried some more. I let the rain wash away my tears. I let it cleanse me, in the ways I really needed.

Most of all, I let rain tell me something. The ice cream said it first, but then the rain confirmed it.

God sees me. He loves me. And tonight, he wanted to make sure I knew those were gifts from Him.

*Explanation: I have a history with rain. I grew up in a country where it rained all the time. Rain is my special gift from God. It ministers to me; to me, it is holy. To read a short post about an experience I had with rain once, click on the following link to go to the original Met in the Rain post.

Soaring

I remember when we used to drive as a family west from Dallas/Ft. Worth on I-20. My daddy always talked about how he loved the wideness of Texas blue skies, I love I adopted. I would often watch the sky as my dad drove our family along that interstate. I would see birds fly over head. I watched them soar along, wings outstretched, winds carrying them effortlessly over us. I used to want to be like them.

When I was 14, I had my first bout of clinical depression. When I was 17, I began dealing with it off-and-on on a regular basis. Major depression, they told me. It was hard. Some days took so much effort to get through that giving up seemed easier. I used to feel like some of the birds I saw flying over TX I-20: flapping wings, struggling to rise above the wind that never stopped buffeting them. That’s how I felt. And I used to want to be like the birds I saw who could simply hold out their wings and soar, carried by the wind.

I am almost 24. I drove today to see my psychiatrist. For the first time in a long time, perhaps a couple of years, I am on 2 medicines instead of 5. I drove back home and saw a bird soaring over me. For the first time in a long time, perhaps ten years, I felt a little bit more like the bird that was soaring instead of the one that fought the winds.

Nice things that happened today:

  • I had a lovely drive to and from Ft. Worth for my appointment. I sang along loudly to the radio, grinning especially when my favorite songs came on.
  • I had a brief nap  in between getting home and work. I had a dream that would have made an awesome novel. When the kids from rec came to wake me up, I stumbled to work groggily. Watching Enchanted with them made me laugh and put me in a surprisingly happy mood for someone so tired.
  • I got to eat a Subway tuna sandwich, Cheetos, and Cherry Coke while watching three back to back Law and Order shows (CI, SVU, and original). A small moment that made my heart very content.