Life · Mental Illness

Just Be

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I’ve been thinking about something the last week or so.  My mind wandered over the last 7 years since I was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and it made me sad.  Mostly sad because I’ve never known motherhood without my thyroid disease, and it’s side effects.  This morning my feelings about this came to a head as I broke down mourning the loss of all the moments that I wish I had given or could give my children.  In particular about Christmas, but all the moments came rushing to mind like a roaring river from over the years about all the ways I had “failed” my kids.

Comparison can be a raging wildfire.  When we stare at others, and what they have, or at their talents, and feel subpar because we aren’t doing or accomplishing the same, or in this instance, I was becoming a victim of not meeting my own expectations about what I should or should not be doing during the Christmas season with my children.  There have been times when comparison snuck in because I was watching what others did with their children, and felt like a failure for not having done the same.

In the past few years, I have simplified Christmas.  We pick a few favorite activities to do outside of the home, but mostly I try to do a few simple things at home to keep us focused on Jesus this season so we don’t get too focused on toys, Santa, and all the delicious treats that typically accompany the holiday. But even with how much I have simplified things, sometimes it’s still too much, and that’s where I found myself this morning.  The expectations of my “normal” December list of To-Dos, and how fatigued and irritable I have felt with my thyroid levels being off became too much, even if in previous years the list was fine…this year it’s still just too much, and I sat in that for awhile, and I battled those thoughts…

“Come on Bridget!  You seriously hardly do anything compared to other families, get your crap together!”

“You already missed the first Advent reading, looks like you are off to a great start!”(obviously in a sarcastic tone- then I proceeded to gather my children around the table last night at bedtime in order to redeem myself which only ended in disobedient, distracted children that left me really frustrated and even more like a failure than before I started!)

As I sat down, and thought about all of these things this morning, and had a little time with Jesus, I remembered what I know from previous experience….that sometimes when I feel this way….when I’m too tired but to just exist, or my hormones are all out of whack, and my anxiety is like a ticking time bomb….sometimes the only strength I can muster up is to literally just be.  Not even to make the craft with my kids, or engage in the fun Christmas activity, it’s just to show up, and be.  And that breaks my heart, because I see so many amazingly, wonderful things that I could be doing to engage with my kids especially at Christmas time, and in my lack, all I have the strength to do somedays is just be.

As I cried out to God this morning, frustrated at my lack….me…the Type A, always able to get it done reliable girl who probably in a different life would have helped create Pinterest, can hardly even muster up the strength to do any of it without breaking…I  was reminded of what His word says in Psalm 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God!”

I opened my bible to read the rest of that chapter, and just felt relief wash over me as I read the words….

VS 1-5 “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  So we will not fear when earthquakes come, and the mountains crumble into the sea.  Let the oceans roar and foam.  Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!  A river brings joy to the city of our God the sacred home of the Most High.  God dwells in that city.  It cannot be destroyed.  From the very break of day GOD WILL PROTECT IT.

He is ALWAYS ready to HELP IN TIMES OF TROUBLE!

DON’T FEAR–  let the earthquakes come!  Let the mountains crumble!  Let the oceans roar and waters surge because WE CANNOT BE DESTROYED!  HE WILL PROTECT US!

And just like that…peace.  Peace to know that it’s ok to “Just Be” sometimes.  To just lean in, and rest in Him.  To allow Him to be my source, and strength instead of me trying to muster up the strength on my own to do things that I just can’t do right now.

So I wanted to share this with you today too friends.  Permission to just be…..in whatever way that looks for you and your family in this season and always.  Go be that! Not be who others are…be you!  Who God created you to be!  Now I don’t say this as an excuse to be lazy.  We can get stuck there too, but permission to not put stress on yourself to do things that don’t matter.  Press into Him, and see what He really wants for you and your family.  Maybe this Christmas that is to dominate at all the Pinterest crafts you can get your hands on, or visit every Christmas festival within driving distance, or maybe like me, it’s a season of feeling overwhelmed, and stressed, and that you too need to know it’s ok to Just Be.

Sending love to you friends!  May Jesus alone fill your cup this holiday season!

Blessings,

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Health · Life · Mental Illness

My Struggle with Mental Illness

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I hardly feel worthy to even label myself as one who struggles with a mental illness, not when I know there are so many others who struggle much deeper than I.  Whose pain is much more debilitating than mine.

One of the things I find so frustrating about struggling with mental illness symptoms is the lack of control that comes with it.  You never know when it’s going to hit you.  It comes at you like a crashing wave that you have absolutely no control over.  You can’t predict it.  You can’t foresee it.  You can’t wrangle it.  Most often the wave comes crashing down, all-consuming, and you are left to figure out how to swim and thrash about in it, and somehow still come out with your head above water.

It hurts my heart so much to realize the people that get hurt the most by my struggle with mental illness symptoms are those closest to me.  They get the best of me, and unfortunately the worst of me.  This is typically the case whether we struggle with a mental illness or not.

I feel fortunate in that my anxiety and depression symptoms are actually a compass for me.  When I start feeling anxious, and depressed it’s typically because something is going on with my thyroid again, and that sends me to my doctor to check my bloodwork, and most times it means I need an adjustment in my medication, or sometimes it means we need to add another medication.  For many this isn’t the case, and though the up and down rollercoaster that I experience on a regular basis is not fun, I am thankful that at least there is some hope in knowing the cause.  For many, this just isn’t so.

Mine manifests itself most often in feelings of inability to handle life, panic attacks, secluding myself, hopelessness, verbal attacks towards those I love, and each one of them is a desperate plea when I feel out of control to regain some sense of control.

What I find most ironic about what happens in these moments is that I so desperately want to be loved, and know that I am not alone…that someone will stand by me, and yet I push people away…I make it incredibly hard for people to want to love me, and yet I am fortunate enough that those closest to me still do…they choose me as wife, as mom, as friend.  Maybe not in that moment, but I have grown a lot when I experience this that I fumble my way through it and verbalize what is actually happening to me for them.  It’s hard to get the words out though.

My husband told me just the other day how incredibly hard it is to love through it, and honestly I am so glad he did.  By forcing myself to get words out to describe what is happening even with tears streaming down my cheeks, and between hiccupy sobs…the more we communicate to one another the better we love each other through the hard.  He deserves to know so he can at least try to understand even if he never understands what exactly it feels like, and him telling me how hard it is to come to me when I am pushing him away helps me to at least comprehend what he is feeling, and why he isn’t being supportive in the way I wish he would, because he honestly doesn’t know how.

I’ve told him before “sometimes, I feel like it would be easier if I had a broken arm or something….when someone’s arm is broken, everyone can see that his or her arm is broken, and so they know he/she will be unable to use their arm in the right way, but no one can see a mental illness.  It would be easier for people to be supportive, and understand if they could just see it.”

But you can’t….mental illnesses are uunpredictable, and they aren’t black and white.  You can’t control it, and you definetly can’t logic your way through it.

There have been so many moments when I feel the wave coming, and anxiety consumes me, that I look into the mirror, and what I see is not even me.  I am completely unrecognizable.  It’s an out of body experience, that is so hard to even describe if you’ve never experienced it.

You try and pray your way out of it, but I gotta be honest….sometimes if there really is something biochemically off in your body, you really need help and intervention.  Praying helps, but I am living proof that sometimes medication or supplements are needed to help with the problem.

So friends if you are reading this, and you too struggle with symptoms of a mental illness, please know this…you are not defined by your disease.   Even though it often times feels like it, don’t believe that lie.  You have value.  You are enough.  Your story is worth being told, and if you are in a state where no one seems to believe you, and no one seems to understand please know that I do, and I see you.  YOU MATTER!

And for those of you who are concerned about me now after reading this, know that I am ok…I’ve talked to my doctor, and recently got labwork done revealing that I do indeed have a hormonal imbalance that I need to get corrected…again.  I’m just writing this after being on an emotional roller coaster, and wondering why my body is broken, but I also know that I need more Jesus, and perhaps a little bit more of my medication 😉

Blessings,

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