Absorb The Good

This week I was unable to write a blog post due to a health concern that has come up. I appreciate prayers. Until next week I’ll leave you with a quote a good friend wrote.

” Everything that happens to you happens for a reason. You need to see the good in the bad, then absorb the good from it. Never repeat the bad act, accept it and move on. Then at the end of the day sit down and focus on the good things and be thankful for them. The good things can be  small as going for a walk and making it home safely or waking up the next day ect. Don’t forget to thank the Lord for showing you life experiences.”

By Karen Robbs

 

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CELEBRATION OF LIFE

Birthdays can be hard for anyone. When you’re young, turning older is exciting, but as you become an adult, getting older seems scary. With another year comes another year to dread. The body begins to age, aches begin to surface, health problems rise, energy levels decrease, and bumps, bulges and sags develop. Many dread their birthdays. It’s easy to get depressed about becoming another year older. For people with mental illness, it’s another day to remind them of their life of darkness; another year they’re living at the bottom of the whole; another year they’re reminded of what a mistake their life is.

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I grew up in a big family. My grandma had eight children and twenty-seven grand kids. My grandparents made a big deal out of every holiday and especially birthdays. To them there was no such thing as being too old to celebrate your special day. The family, who lived close by, all gathered together to celebrate. It was like one person’s birthday was a holiday. As a child I couldn’t count on friends showing up to my party, but I always knew my family would be there.

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In college when I became depressed, I wanted to cancel my special day. To me it was another reminder that God made a mistake putting me on earth. I couldn’t find joy in moving forward into another year of mental anguish, deep sadness, and endless hopelessness. Why was I even born, anyway? Did God put me on earth to suffer? Why celebrate another year at the bottom of my hole?

My parents refused to let me stop celebrating. We no longer celebrated with my aunts and uncles, but my grandparents still came. My older sister, who was married, came and there were my parents and younger siblings. It was still a big thing to my family. I put on a fake smile while they sang to me, I blew out my candles and made a silent wish and I opened my gift pretending to be excited. Nothing made me feel good inside. Not even the laughter of my family or the love that went into their gifts.

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It wasn’t until I reached recovery that I realized why my family made birthdays so special. Birthdays to them were more than just becoming another year older. It was and is a celebration of life, the life God gave us and the blessing of each year we are still on this earth reaching out and touching others’ lives and creating memories. It’s also a way your family can show you how you filled their lives with happiness and how much they love you. It’s celebrating with the friends whose lives you have impacted.

Now that I am in recovery, my birthday is even more special. Why? When I was depressed, I made several attempts on my life. I could have died, yet I never succeeded. I may have never made it another year, but God kept me alive. He wouldn’t give up on me. Now each year is a celebration of being alive and making it another year while still in recovery. It’s a celebration of overcoming the hardest battle of my life and for the chance to live in the light.

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Celebrating with family and friends means the world to me. I’m celebrating the life God gave me with the people who mean the most to me. Knowing that people love me and support me despite my flaws is special to me. I’m alive because I fought hard, I’m alive because of my friends and families support and I am alive because I have a purpose to fulfill. God didn’t allow me to die for a reason.

Don’t look at your birthday as another year you’re getting older. Look at it as a celebration of life given to you by God, the life you keep living, and the road to recovery or life within recovery. Even if your soul is dark and the world seems hopeless, think of your birthday as a chance to keep fighting for the light, for a new beginning, and for recovery. Celebrate your birthday with the people you love the most. It doesn’t have to be a big celebration, but celebrate and know there is a reason you’re alive for another year.

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Thursday I celebrated my birthday with friends and family. Seventeen people showed up. It was more than a birthday. It was a celebration of my life, a celebration of my recovery, a celebration of all God allowed me to accomplish, and a celebration of the love of friends and family. I may have turned another year older, but I also lived another year in happiness. I thank God for giving me life and keeping me alive even when I didn’t want to live. This year I celebrated not another year older, but another year that I am standing strong and tall within the light.

LIVE FOR TOMORROW AND BEYOND

When you’re suffering with mental illness, it’s hard to see a future; it’s just nearly impossible to see beyond the darkness within. Will the sadness ever end? Is life worth living if all that lies ahead is anguish? Can mentally ill people have a successful future? To the sick person, these questions seem to have one answer, a distorted answer, and that is, “There is no tomorrow or beyond.”

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I once believed this. When I was deep in my hole of depression, I could only see the dark side to life, and to my future. In college I felt like I had no reason to live. My future seemed like an endless road into hopelessness, inner anguish, deep sadness, and self-injury. There was no life for me to live. Could a person with so much torment within ever find joy or peace? Could I ever be more than an emotional wreck? To me my answer was, “No.” I was blinded by my own suffering.

I didn’t think I could make it through college. Graduating seemed impossible, let alone having a future beyond college. I had to force myself to get out of bed each morning and to go to class. I got sick every morning and in between classes. At night I lay in bed fighting my racing thoughts. Sleep was impossible. I felt so alone and hopeless. I tried to concentrate during classes while struggling to keep awake.

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If I couldn’t concentrate in class or keep awake, how could I ever pass? It was so hard to keep going. I moved back home, an hour from school, when my Mom found out how ill I was. I drove to school each day with my windows open and the radio blasting to stay awake. I thought I could keep forcing myself to go to college despite how depressed I was. I thought if I didn’t, I’d be a failure, yet I felt like I was failing. I kept my grades up, yet I still felt like a failure. Even if I were to graduate, I didn’t have the strength to further my future. Who would want an emotional wreck?

One day I drove to college in a snow storm. Once I arrived, I found out classes were canceled. The storm got so bad, I couldn’t make it home or to my grandparents. The school took me to a shelter. The people were nice, but I started crying and couldn’t stop. I looked at all the people around me who were there because they had no place to go. Would I become one of them? The people tried to console me, but there was nothing they could do. My parents had to come and get me.

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That’s when I realized I couldn’t make myself continue any more. Once the semester ended, I decided to take a year off. I told my old high school teacher I took a year off to work and she made it sound like I had given up. That made my future seem even more bleak. Something in me wouldn’t let me give up, though. I went to work at a grocery store. I made many friends and started therapy. The person who only talked when talked to started talking to everyone. The sad negative person started seeing a positive side.

My therapist helped me see my life and future in a good light. She told me to fight those negative thoughts and to change them into positive ones. I started to see a future for myself. I started living for tomorrow and beyond. With therapy and medication I found the light, and in a year I returned to college part time and continued to work on the weekends. In three years I graduated from college with high grades.

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Years later I fell back into depression and I ended up in the hospital. After the hospital I struggled to live for tomorrow and beyond. I became determined to fight for recovery. I continued to work at the grocery store. My future wasn’t exactly the way I planned it, but it no longer seemed hopeless.

Look beyond the dark hole. Fight for tomorrow. Climb up the hole. Live for what’s beyond tomorrow. Find the light and strive to live in it. Believe it or not, there is a happy, healthy future out there for you. If you give up, you’ll lose the chance to see what God has in store for you and to find out what recovery feels like.

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Because I fought for recovery and lived for tomorrow and beyond, I have an associates degree, I’ve worked the same job for twenty-three years, I’ve been married for eleven years, I’ve written the first draft of my memoir, I write this blog, and I write a blog and quotes for National Internet Safety and Cyber Bullying Task Force. I am also their social media director. I fought for tomorrow and beyond and now I’m looking into the bright light of my future.

 

MENTAL ILLNESS KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES

Mental illness knows no boundaries. It strikes without remorse and drags its victims down into its evil hole of darkness. It does not discriminate. Mental illness doesn’t care what race you are; it doesn’t care about your social standing; it doesn’t care about your background; and it doesn’t care what age you are. Children to seniors can struggle with mental illness. It’s impossible to tell when it will unleash its furry.

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It’s hard to tell exactly at what age mental illness took control of my life. I know I was young. My mom told me I was a happy child until I started going to school. School changed me. I was different. I struggled with a learning disability and teachers and classmates thought it meant I was stupid. I think I slowly slid into depression year after year as I faced bullying. Mental illness ran in my family. I think I inherited my illness and the bullying forced it to show its ugliness within me.

The bullying began in first grade. That’s when my self-esteem started declining. I began to question my intelligence. Everyone said I was stupid, but my mom said I was smart. I wanted to believe my mom, but each day my classmates and teachers put me down. Sadness slowly began to seep into my soul.

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The sadness grew from year to year, and from year to year I began to believe I was useless and stupid. I began struggling to sleep at night and became scared to face school. I tried to push the feelings behind me. By the time I was a teenager, I couldn’t ignore the feelings within me. I fell deep into a dark hole. Feelings of hopelessness engulfed me. Everything that once made me happy no longer brought me joy. Life was an endless hole I fell down and I couldn’t see any way out of. I cried easily and even the simple things my family said upset me. My brothers’ brotherly teasing angered me and set me off into a fit.

By eighth grade, I fell deeper into my sadness. I wanted so much to call out for help, but I was afraid. I feared no one would understand. I thought my parents wouldn’t care or love me anymore if they knew how badly I hurt. I kept my feelings buried within me. They ate at me and drew me down deeper. I screamed out in anguish, but the screams never parted my lips. It took all my strength to face another day. I often felt like I couldn’t go on and I often imagined what it would be like if I were dead. I imagined scenarios where I was hurt or dead. This became my coping technique.

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Mental illness dragged me down into its hole and tortured me. It didn’t care how young I was or that I had loving parents. It knew no boundaries to its torment. The mistake I made is I told no one how I felt, and because I kept my feelings to myself, I hit rock bottom by the time I graduated from school. It wasn’t until I was in college and I started injuring regularly, planning my death, and attempting suicide that I confided in my mom.

Mental illness doesn’t care who it strikes, but if you confide in someone you trust, you can stop it before it leads you down the wrong road. This illness may not have any boundaries, but the sooner you seek help, the sooner you can gain control of it and reach recovery. Whatever age you are, turn to someone one you trust and ask for help. The road to recovery won’t be easy, but the sooner you catch it, the less control it will have on you and recovery will be closer to your reach. The quicker you ask for help, the less time it will take to undo the damage mental illness has done.

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It took me into my adult years to ask for help, but once I did, I was able to get the help I needed. I regret not asking for help sooner, but I am glad I did before I succeeded at taking my life. Recovery took years, but I now stand in the light.

WHO’S DANGEROUS?

Every time there is a mass shooting or a horrific criminal act, the news brings up the mental health history of the person who committed these crime. Television crime dramas also indicate the reason for the killer’s actions is mental illness. In fact, both dramas and news shows hardly ever portray those with mental illness as not dangerous. They never state the facts. Instead they go over and over the fact that a person’s mental illness drove him or her to do such awful things. This places a stigma on all those who have mental illness. People become afraid of those suffering with such an illness when they have no need to.

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Carrie Barron M.D in her article, “Mental Illness Does Not Equal Dangerous, Mostly,” at Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-creativity-cure/201509/mental-illness-does-not-equal-dangerous-mostly) states, “Most mentally ill people are not dangerous. In fact, only 3-5% of firearm assaults are linked to people with serious mental illness and those with mental illness are more likely than others to be the victim of a crime.”

In an article called “Gun Violence and Mental Illness: Myths and Evidence-Based Facts” by Joel Miller posted 10-03-2017 13:26, on American Mental Health Counselors Association website (http://www.amhca.org/blogs/joel-miller/2017/10/03/gun-violence-and-mental-illnessmyths-and-evidence-based-facts), Miller states, “People with serious mental illness are rarely violent. Only 3 to 5 percent of all violence, including but not limited to firearm violence, is attributable to serious mental illness. The large majority of gun violence toward others is not caused by mental illness.”

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If most people who are suffering from mental illness are only dangerous to themselves, then why is it when a crime is committed, they point out a person’s mental illness? Yes, there are circumstances where a person’s illness is severe, untreated and psychotic enough that they carry out awful crimes, but these are only a small percentage. The majority of those who suffer with such an illness have hurt no one, but themselves. No one seems to mention that on television.

I, a person with mental illness, find it insulting that we are all represented by the few who are dangerous to others. Many people fear treatment because they are afraid society will label them as a danger to all. I’ve faced this stigma myself. I lost friends because they feared I might hurt them. I had a manager where I worked tell me because I have a mental illness I was a danger to customers and employees, yet the only person I ever hurt was myself. Those who know me well know I could never hurt another person, yet I got labeled dangerous because I suffer with a mental illness.

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My plea to show producers and news reporters is, “Don’t blame all crimes on those with mental illness, and if it is their illness that drove them to do it, tell the facts. Tell America and the whole world that most people with mental illness are not violent. Encourage those who are not getting help to seek help and they will not be judged.”

It’s up to us who struggle with mental illness to let our voices be heard. Write letters to your news stations, write articles, post blogs, and write to whoever you can think of. Don’t let yourself be labeled as dangerous. Show the world you are not harmful.

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I do my part in speaking for those who have mental illness with my blog and other writings. I plan on finding other ways to educate society about those with mental illness. Who is with me? Who is willing to stand up for yourself and all others struggling with mental illness? Who else is sick of being stuck behind the stigma that all with mental illness are dangerous? If you are with me pull out, your pens and computers and start writing. Tell the world and show the world we are good, harmless people. Together we can make a difference.

I proudly teach, encourage and dispel stigma about mental illness with my writing. I plan to let my voice be heard through my blog and much more. Because I’m willing to fight stigma, I stand proudly in a new light, a light of acceptance, of understanding, and of encouragement.

SYMPTOMS OF BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER

I’m on vacation. so please enjoy a older but very important blog post.

I was told when I was hospitalized years ago that I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I had no idea what BPD was, so I did some research. I found that many who suffer with this illness were abused. I was never abused by my parents, but I was abused emotionally by teachers and classmates at school. I also learned that people with BPD have a hard time with self-image, relationships and behaviors..

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I found these symptoms on the National Education Alliance website (The website can be found under resources on my blog menu.):

  • Fear Of abandonment (I blogged about my struggles with this in the past.)
  • Unstable or changing relationships (I had many unstable relationships with friends and boyfriends.)
  • Unstable self-image; struggles with identity or sense of self (I had problems with my self-image.)
  • Impulsive or self-damaging behavior (e.g. excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
  • Suicidal Behavior or self-injuring (At one time I was suicidal and I have now gone thirteen years without injuring)
  • Varied or random mood swings (I would be in a good mood one minute and in an angry fit the next.)
  • Constant feelings of worthlessness or sadness (Throughout a big part of my life I felt worthlessness and I struggled with sadness)
  • Problems with anger, including frequent loss of temper or physical fights (I often lost my temper at home and got into physical fights with my brother. I got angry and would throw and break things.)
  • Stress-related paranoia or loss of contact with reality

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To be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, you must have five or more of these symptoms. If you have several of these symptoms, find a therapist who deals with BPD. In time you can take control of your illness and find a happier life. Your symptoms can be reduced and you can bathe in the light as I am. I still have some of the symptoms of Borderline, but they no longer rule my life. I live my life in the light.

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ONE SOUL’S FIGHT

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Life goes on and on

The world spins around and around

Yet one soul stands still

Stuck in a hole of darkness

Haunted by sadness

Blanketed by hopelessness

Suffocated by anguish

People rush by, but no one notices

One soul caught in an illness

Is there hope?

One soul fights an unseen war

A fight of courage and determination

A fight for a new beginning

A fight for strength

A fight to live in the light

A fight to be seen and to go on living

The one soul digs down and fights

Fights with all the soul has

Fights despite ups and downs

One soul reaches the light

One soul stands tall shining like the sun

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THE ULTIMATE FORGIVENESS

Some of us celebrate Easter and some don’t. A customer told me she celebrates the Last Supper because it’s more important than the Resurrection. I celebrate both when I celebrate Easter. I believe it’s a celebration of the sacrifice Jesus made so our sins will be forgiven and His Resurrection. However you celebrate is not important. What is important is that we are given the ultimate forgiveness. Whatever we do, if we ask God and Jesus for forgiveness, we are forgiven. This is hard to wrap your mind around. We ask, “How can there not be any exceptions?” Some sins are worse than others and yet we get the same forgiveness. Does everyone deserve forgiveness? How can we all receive the same forgiveness?

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When I was ill, I did some awful things to my family. I called my parents bad names, I fought with my siblings, and I swore a lot. I threw fits, I broke things, and I punched my siblings. I was an angry person when I had my Borderline Personality Disorder. When I had my episodes, I was out of control. I often wondered how God could forgive me for my actions. I couldn’t even forgive myself. I punished myself over and over, yet God forgave me over and over again. Why? I didn’t deserve it.

My little sister and I shared a room when we were kids. Many nights I struggled to sleep. A noise my sister made while sleeping angered  me. I’d throw things at her; I’d yell at her and stick things in her mouth. I was upset she could sleep and I couldn’t. I made her life miserable. She didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t her fault I couldn’t sleep, but I took my frustration out on her. How could I be forgiven for this? Years later after she learned of my illness my sister forgave me, but for years I drowned in my own guilt.

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My brother was a typical brother. He had a nick-name for me and liked to tease me like brothers do. I saw his teasing as another form of bullying. I thought my brother was treating me just like the kids in school. I hated him for it. He’d say something and I’d go off into a fit. I’d start punching him and he’d punch back. I’d scream at him and call him names. One time we wrestled until we ended up putting a hole in the wall. I called him awful things. How could God forgive me for that? I acted like a jerk, I said things I didn’t mean, and did some awful stuff to my brother, and yet I am forgiven.

All I had to do to be forgiven for my sins was pray to God and ask for forgiveness, but did I deserve it? I was awful when I was sick. I even got mad at my parents and argued with them and called them names. How can the Heavenly Father just let all I did go? Even into my adult years I had a hard time letting myself off the hook for what I did.

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Mom sat me down. “God, understands you were sick and all you need to do is ask him to forgive you. That’s why Jesus died on the cross so you don’t have to live and die with your sins. Forgive yourself; let it go because God has already forgiven you.”

If you did stuff you’re not proud of and you can’t forgive yourself, remember why Jesus died. Turn to God and Jesus and ask for forgiveness. Don’t live in anguish punishing yourself for your wrong doings. Let it go. If God forgives you, then you, too, can forgive yourself. Get on your knees and turn to Him. Speak to Him and let your sins go.

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Jesus’ gift to us was his death on a cross so we can give our sins to God and be forgiven so we one day can go to heaven. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by dying and God made the ultimate sacrifice by allowing His son to die for people born into sin. In the end we are given the ultimate forgiveness. All you have to do is ask for it and it shall be granted. However you celebrate Easter, be grateful for the sacrifices made for you so your sins can be wiped free. If God can forgive you, then you can forgive yourself.

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I have placed my sins in God’s hands and I have also learned to forgive myself. I no longer feel bad for the things I did while I was ill. I know I will always be a sinner, and I also know God will forgive me if I ask for it. This Easter I celebrate Jesus’s and God’s sacrifices and the ultimate forgiveness given to us. I celebrate Jesus rising from the dead and ascending into heaven. I stand in the light of the Father, the Holy Ghost, and Jesus. Happy Easter!

 

 

A PRAYER FOR STRENGTH

When times get hard and I don’t think I can face another day, I say a silent prayer. Even in recovery I need some extra help from above. Sometimes my illness threatens to throw me down the hole, and when that happens, I close my eyes or go somewhere quiet and say a silent prayer. Support systems and coping techniques help, but prayer is the best therapy of all.

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Lately things in my life have been hard, so along with my coping techniques and supporters, I have turned to prayer. Prayer to give me strength to deal with my grandma’s dementia getting worse, strength to deal with a tooth problem, strength to keep my illness under control and stay in recovery. Below is my prayer for strength.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

Life is hard and my illness threatens to throw me back into my inner hell. I have fought with all my might to climb out of my hole of depression, anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder and I did it, but sometimes my illness threatens to take over. Life is difficult. It’s got many bumps, twists, and dips. Some days life’s bumps knock me down. I find it hard to fight to stay within the light. I feel like giving up the battle. When I think I have everything under control, life suddenly twists in another direction and I slip into sadness. When I think things can’t get any worse, life takes a dip into darkness and I wobble. Oh Lord, when these days come, give me the strength to continue on.

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Lord, when I was at my worst, I turned my back on you, yet you stood at my side. I claimed you did not exist, but you never left me. I stopped going to church and blamed you for my illness, but you continued to give me strength to go on. Lord, sometimes I still ask, “Why me?” Why did you give me such an illness?” Oh, heavenly Father when I question you, give me strength to hold on tight, to be patient, and to allow you to show me the way.

Recovery is hard. I know I will not ever be cured of my illness, but I fight each day to stay in the light. Many things threaten to throw me backwards. Sometimes I get sad and I’m not sure why. My worries and thoughts run wild. I get anxious and I get sick. I try to calm myself, but some days I can’t. At times I over-react to things, I get emotional, and I get negative. When my illness threatens to send me backwards, give me strength to stay in recovery.

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Stigma about mental illness is all around me. I lost friends because they feared my mental illness and didn’t understand. I listen to others make jokes about people with mental illness, I watch television shows paint the wrong images of mental illness, and I hear the news blaming horrific crimes on mental illness without stating the facts. I become angry at the prejudice, the stigma, and misinformed people. The only way I know how to reach out to others to teach, to inform and help is through my writing. Heavenly Father, give me the strength to keep using my writing to fight stigma.

Lord, there are many people in the world: some who are positive and some who are negative. Relationships are hard. Knowing whom to build a healthy friendship with and whom I should keep my distance from is difficult. I try hard to be kind to all, but I must protect my well being. Having healthy relationships is important to staying in recovery. People come into my life who are negative, untrustworthy, and who are unstable, wanting to be my friend. It’s hard to turn away from these people. I am willing to help those who help themselves, but must stay away from people who refuse help. Give me the strength to hold on to healthy relationships and turn away from bad ones.

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Heavenly Father, I would not be where I am without your help. I now know I have struggled with my mental illnesses to help others with my writing. I know you have a purpose for me and I work hard to fulfill it. I know you never let us go through anything without a reason. My reason is to write about my illnesses to help others, to teach others, and to give others hope. Thank you, Lord, for everything. Thank you for this strength and determination you gave me to push through no matter what stood in my way. I am in the light because of you. Thank you for the strength to climb into the light. Please, continue to give me the strength to keep dancing in not only the light of recovery, but also within your light.

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Try writing your own prayer or just taking a moment to say a prayer. If anyone can get you through, God can. Turn to him and be patient because God works in his own time and in his own way. If you look around, you may already see doors and paths he has provided for you. Lean on him for the strength, guidance, and determination you need to reach recovery.

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I use prayer often to get me through rough times. Prayer is what keeps me in God’s light and helps me stand bravely in the light.

 

 

DEALING WITH CHANGE

The world is constantly moving, people are going through different stages, stores remodel, buildings go up, life takes a new direction, and around we go on the Ferris wheel of change. The world is forever on a cycle of change. People change, technology changes, our lives change, and the places we live in change. We all grumble about it. Many people don’t like change. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes it makes no sense, and sometimes it’s for the worse. For people with mental illness, change can be extremely difficult. It can send a person down the hole of darkness and some feel safer when life and their daily routine stay the same. When the routine is broken, the person can become very upset.

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How many of you complain when you go in a grocery store and find they are remodeling and moving everything around? We blame the employees and the company and claim we will shop somewhere else, but the next day or week we go back. For people who have mental illness, this change can trigger an anxiety attack or panic attack. They keep coming back because they have been going to that store for years and they refuse to go to somewhere new. Yet their regular store is totally different. It’s stressful and to some devastating.

I hate change. When my older sister grew up and moved out of the house, I had a choice. I could leave the bedroom I’d spent most of my childhood in and move to my older sister’s room or allow my younger sister to take my older sister’s room. The room I was used to had no door, it was cramped, it had sesame street wallpaper, and two small closets. My older sister’s room had one big closet, a door, and the room was spacious and had paneling on the bottom half of the wall and white paint on the top half. It was a wonderful opportunity to take, but I turned it down.

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I was used to my bedroom. I felt safe in it. It was my room and changing to something new scared me. I know it was just a room, but it was my fortress of safety. The idea of moving out of it made me feel anxious and sad. I felt like I needed things to stay the same. If I changed I’d be further away from the nightlight, further away from the stairs, further away from my daily routine, and a part of me couldn’t handle the idea of all that being different. So my little sister got the bigger room and my mom helped me put up new wallpaper.

Now as an adult I am struggling with a new change. When she was younger, my oldest niece came to me about everything. She confided in me about her life as a teen. Each summer she spent a week with me and we’d go school shopping and to the movies. I watched her grow and change from a baby to a teen and now to an adult. When she graduated from high school and moved out on her own, I seemed less important to her. As she continued to grow into an adult, she stopped confiding in me. Recently she became a mom. I am happy to have a new great niece, but deeply saddened by the change in my relationship with her mom, my niece.

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I now learn about what’s going on in my niece’s life by Facebook. I feel like I’m no longer important. This change in our relationship has threatened to throw me down the hole of depression. I feel lost and sad. I’m struggling with my feelings about this change. I feel like my niece no longer loves me.

My therapist taught me coping techniques to deal with change. I try to point out the positive side to change, like I have a new great niece to build that special relationship with. I journal out my feelings, turn to my support system for encouragement, logic, and comfort, and use self-reassurance to take that leap into something new. I reassure myself things will be different at first, but I will adapt and find the change is a good thing. I practice my breathing to avoid anxiety attacks. I’ve learned to look at change as a new adventure and not the end of my world.

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Change doesn’t have to send you into depression, an anxiety attack, or a panic attack. Look at your daily routine; you might find by not allowing yourself to experience something new, you have put yourself into a rut or closed yourself off to better things. Don’t see change as a bad thing, but as a new journey. Don’t let your fear of change stop you from living. Take that leap. We are adaptable, so allow yourself to adapt.

I’ve taken many leaps into something else. Since I have taken steps into change, my life has gotten better, I have become stronger, and I am happier. Sometimes I struggle with change, but I turn to my coping techniques and I make it through. I’m dealing with the change in my relationship with my niece and learning even though we no longer talk as much, she still loves me and I’m still important to her. Dealing with change has helped me dance within the light.