Tag Archives: feelings

Mental Health month

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It has been almost a year, and I feel like I am in a place that I can write about it. I mostly want to write about it for me, I strangely feel that if I put it on paper maybe I can prevent it from happening again. I also hope it might help someone traveling a similar road.

When I think back on memories of the past, I see colors as well as the memory. August is usually golden, May – green, November – shades of brown, January is usually sky blue. I don’t know why, I don’t really know how to adequately explain it, but it is, and it has been for as long as I can remember.

When I think back on last July, it is black. Pitch black, no flicker of light. I had never been in this place before, I was unsure how to navigate through. I couldn’t find a map, who am I kidding, I could not even look for a map.

Since Jason passed, July and August are typically tough months for me. In the beginning I thought that was it, just another little bit of a sad time. Before I really knew what was happening my mind had spiraled out of control. Scarier than the sadness was the anxiety, I did not know where it came from, or recognize it until it was big and scary. I could not grocery shop without my heart racing, several times I couldn’t finish. I raced to the check out, I raced home and shut the door like I was being chased. I did not want to go anywhere; I didn’t want to do anything. I struggled to articulate it to my husband. He struggled to know how to help.

I cried often, I was angry, I was scared, I was all the dark emotions. The only thing that got me to work most days was the fact that Tim and I work in the same place. I spent most of the month with my office door closed because I could not do people. I wanted my home, my room, my bed, my quilt, my pillow, my sleep, my silence. It was a black month, I couldn’t even pray.

I saw my oncologist late in the month, toward the end of the appointment I casually mentioned I was feeling anxious. She spun her chair towards me, pulled up close and asked me to tell her about it. I did, I told her all of it. I told her about the black hole I was in and that I did not know how to get out. I told her how tired I was of feeling sad, and how I hated feeling anxious. I told her I was scared. I told her the depth of it that I had been afraid to utter, as if speaking it might make it more true or more real. She listened. Then she talked about some options, about how trauma can build up. She told me how common PTSD is in cancer patients. She did not tell me to snap out of it or get over it. She told me to give myself a break, not to be hard on myself, she told me I was going to be okay.

So, something happened, instead of making it more real, it was already as real as it was going to get, speaking it lifted a dark veil. Speaking it made it less scary, speaking it began the healing.

I am almost a year away from the blackest of it. I take medicine and supplements to support my health, all of my health. I talk as openly about my anxiety as I do my cancer. I want to help move mental health out of the shadows until we just say health, and don’t feel like we must qualify it as mental or physical.

Do I still have moments? Yep. Are they black? Nope. I have tools now to recognize it before it overtakes me. I am not foolish enough to think that it can’t happen again, but I am on my guard. I’m not ashamed to ask for help, I have a support group who now knows this struggle is part of me.

If any part of this is you, talk to someone, please.  It get’s less scary every time you say it out loud. For me every time I say it out loud I feel like I am feeding the “light” and starving the “dark”. What I feed grows.

May is mental health month, let’s take this stuff out of the shadows and the dark. Let’s make a mental check up as common as a physical or a teeth cleaning. Let’s take the stigma out of asking for help. Let’s give the gift of this freedom to the next generation. What if we could say, “I’m feeling anxious, I need to stop and take a few deep breaths” as easily as we say “I’m getting a headache, I need to rest my eyes for a few minutes”? What if . . .

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My year of cancer . . . uncommon peace

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One year ago on Friday, Jan 13th, I heard the words, “I am 99.9% sure the lump is breast cancer” I sat stone faced, I nodded and after what seemed hours I uttered, “okay, now what?”. I had just had a mammogram and then an ultrasound of a mass in my right breast. Minutes later, I was having a biopsy. They do not mess around in this small-town teaching hospital. Side note, who goes in for a mammogram on Friday 13th?

I drove home unblinking, walked in the door stunned and in shock. I looked at Tim and told him that I had cancer. He never blinked, he never wavered, “we will do this together”.

I remember we were supposed to head into work, we found ourselves at the ocean. It is the place I can make sense of the senseless, it is the place that soothes my soul, it is a place of healing for me.

Tim was true to his word, all the chemo, the week in the hospital, all the surgeries, all seven and a half weeks of radiation, all of it. He sat with me, sitting in the hard chair of the watcher. I have never loved him more. You know who else was there through all of it? My heavenly father, holding me tight, always.

This last year has been a blur of doctors, operating rooms, needles, chemo and radiation. I feel like I have aged 5 years since last January. It has also been a blur of helping hands, urgent prayers, physical and virtual hugs, and the abundant peace that Jesus provided.

I was exhausted, so exhausted. I was, at times, void of emotion and in an instant full of emotion. I was never afraid, I always felt peace covering me.

There are snapshots that flash though my mind:
Shaving my head
Laughing with the nurse before my port placement
Laughing with the same nurse months later before my emergency port removal
Loving arms of my husband
Faithful friend’s offers of help
Caring nurses
Caring doctors
Days that I felt well enough to be in the sun
Farm-fresh eggs from my boss
Family gatherings
Friends visiting
Months of not having to shave my legs
Sweet times with my heavenly father
I chose to shuffle through only the funny or encouraging snapshots. The others are there, but I choose to dwell in the grace and faithfulness I experienced through this year.

I still have a journey ahead, but the tough stuff is over. I have my one year mammogram this coming Friday, I am expecting an “all clear”. I continue to feel the peace that has covered me this last year.

As I look back over this year it is with a grateful heart.

My heart hurts.

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I have gone back and forth about this post for days, maybe longer. I am still not sure if I should post it. But my heart is hurting, and this will help me sort out my feelings . . . maybe.

There is a phenomenon sweeping our nation right now of women finding the nerve to speak out about actions that happened to them in their past. I feel like one of the reasons there is a flood of women coming forward is because a few came forward and they were listened to, it gave others the courage to come forward. One of the biggest lies victims buy into is that “no one will believe you, it is my word against yours” and seeing other women tell their story and be believed gives them courage to speak up.

Are there attention seekers that lie? Most probably, yes, however, this should not stop us from believing that this is and has been a problem even among believers. This is the thing that hurts my heart the most, the way I am seeing how some believers view sexual assault. How some believers are deal with sexual assault in the church.

I read an article about pastor of a super church, who 10 years ago, while a youth pastor, gave a 14-year-old girl a ride home. On the way he took a detour and sexually abused her, afterwards he took her home with the instruction to be silent. Recently this now 24-year-old woman wrote about her experience. This man stood in front of his church and told them that he had a sexual indiscretion 10 years ago. He said he thought it had been dealt with “back then”. Then looking into the TV camera, he invited this victim to contact him, so he could help her with forgiveness and healing. He had the nerve to put this on her. Let me, your attacker, help you to healing, really? How arrogant. What troubles me most is that he was given a standing ovation by the congregation. This was not an indiscretion, this was a crime.  Child molestation. A crime. My heart hurts.

This story brought back a memory long forgotten. I remember my parents sitting me down and telling me to never be alone with one of the men in the church we attended. I remember hearing whispers about a sexual assault he perpetrated or tried to, on a young girl close to my age. I was not supposed to ever know about this. This young lady was also told not to be alone with him ever again. I think back on the horror this girl must have felt to have to see this man seemingly never miss a step with his place in this church. The memory is foggy and vague, there may have been some sort of church discipline, I don’t remember any. I do remember thinking that, because of the way this was “handled”, this girl must have done something wrong and it was her partly her fault.  It was not in any way her fault, she was a victim many times over. Every time she had to face this man. Over and over, every church function, every Sunday. My heart hurts.

How many times did/does this happen in our churches? I am embarrassed by this. I am embarrassed that any victim is made to feel at fault, or not believed, or thrown to the side to save a reputation that should not have been saved. My heart hurts.

There is a troubling sentiment I have seen on social media from some Christian women. They are usually referring to unchurched, women who live a life style they do not approve of, women they think are below them. I have seen this phrase, or one very close to it, over and over “if they are going to dress like a whore they deserve what they what they get”. Nope, nope, nope. How can any Christian think this, let alone put it in writing? Us, who have been forgiven of so much, thinking because of anything, anything, that any person deserves to be assaulted. My heart hurts.

I don’t get it. I don’t. I don’t want to get it. I don’t want to understand it. I want this to continue to break my heart. I want to continue to hurt for the victims. I don’t want to get it. My heart hurts.

It’s a little foggy here –

Friday I read an amazing post Resting through the Fog. Hop over there and read it when you have a chance. Bonnie Gray wrote about the fog that comes in some seasons of our lives. It was just what I needed. I have been trying to put my finger on the “thing” that has been weighing me down lately.

Fog. Interesting stuff fog. It comes and goes. It is thick and thin. It can be incredibly beautiful, it can be grey, and lonely. It has been all those things to me lately. The fog that lifts suddenly and leaves me feeling euphoric. The fog that causes me to stop and think, and leaves me quiet and contemplative.

When I read Bonnie’s blog, I was reminded that God is in control of this. That sometimes he uses the fog to remind me to be still. Trust him, the sun will shine again. The fog will lift.

Her blog reminded me to not be so tough on myself when the fog settles in. Give myself permission to feel what I am feeling at the time.

She reminded me that itt is okay to only complete one task on the long list. This is a tough one for me. I want to be the perfect wife, dinner every night, spotless house, and full of energy. I can’t be this right now, and I need to rest in His love and my husbands love and know that for this season, this is okay.

Today the fog is lifted, my head is clear, I have a task or two to complete. I will enjoy this today. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I do know, God is in control. He sees me, knows me, loves me. He will lead me in or out of the fog. I will try to learn to rest in him, because I know God is good, all the time.