The Story that is My Life

My life as it has been and as it continues to unfold is a story. One story made up of many stories. One complex, yet simple story. One sometimes messy, but so beautiful story. One story that I wonder if it might be interesting to be told.

This blog is my attempt to put part, or parts, of that story into words, pictures, or whatever form my mind can wrap itself around or create from within myself to express what it is like to be the one inside Cindy's Story. This is an exploration on my part and on yours in reading, and seeing, and maybe even hearing. It is not necessarily chronological. It might not always make sense, but it is my expression. It is me.

You are invited to see how my story unfolds.....

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Day I Met the Band Third Day...and Cried

A letter to my favorite band.


Dear Mac Powell, Mark Lee, and David Carr of Third Day,

On October 24th, 2015 in Portland, Oregon (actually Tualatin) I got to meet you in person.  You probably don't remember me.  I know you meet hundreds of people at each concert you give, but just in case...

My name is Cindy Wolf.  You probably thought that I was a bit over emotional as I came toward you, as I could not contain the tears welling up within me.  I am the one who, as your road pastor, Nigel James, explained to you, had gone through many years of depression and suicide attempts, and that the music of Third Day had been one of the things that helped get me through.  I want to tell you more of the reason behind my tears and my overwhelming emotions.  

It began back when I was in high school.  I found that I was sad much of the time even though my life was going so well.  I had friends, played sports, was a leader within my youth group at church, and even became Valedictorian of my class.  But inside I felt like a fraud.  So when I first started listening to the music of Third Day, some of the songs struck a cord with me.

In Thief, the lines, "It's been so long.  Oh, such a long time, since I've lived with peace and rest," struck me because I was not living with peace and rest.  

When you sang, "I deserve what I receive."  I knew that that was true of me, though no one could see it.  Though I studied my Bible, I did it because that is what a strong Christian is supposed to do.  I knew the inside of me was darker than what I projected on the outside.  I wanted Jesus to love me anyway, even though I was not perfect.

I felt like the thief on the cross beside Jesus.  Just like you sang.
I deserve what I receive.  Jesus when You are in Your kingdom, could You please remember me.  And He looks at me still holding on, the tears fall from His eyes.  He says I tell the truth.  Today, you will live with Me in paradise.
The thought of tears falling from Jesus' eyes because of his love for me, even when I felt like a fraud, was so encouraging.  I didn't want to be depressed, and the thought of Jesus wanting me with Him gave me hope.  I listened to this song over and over again.  The same encouragement came from Love Song.  My heart was starting to be convicted that I wanted to do anything Jesus wanted me to do, even go to the ends of the earth so that others may be saved.  Jesus sang to me,
Just to be with you, I'd do anything.  There's no price I would not pay.  Just to be with you, I'd give anything.  I would give My life away.
If Jesus would do anything for me, I wanted to do anything for Him.  I was reminded,
I know that you don't understand the fullness of My love.  How I died upon the cross for your sins, and I know that you don't realize how much that I gave you.  But I promise, I would do it all again.  Just to be with you, I gave everything.  Yes, I gave my life away.
That is when I decided that I would study at Bible college to be ready for God's calling of me to be a missionary.  During my studies, I spent one year in Northern Ireland as an exchange student.  The different culture and way of studying caused me to doubt my faith.  My faith was not strong enough to keep me believing, but Jesus showed me that He would give me the faith and grace that I needed.  The song I've Always Loved You reminded me that my standing with God was not based on myself.
Don't you know I've always loved you even before there was time.  Though you turn away I'll tell you still.  Don't you know I've always loved you, and I always will. 
I continued preparing to go as a missionary.  My excitement in God's truth and my trust and hope in Him grew.  I wanted to share the Good News around the world.  My Hope is In You spoke to me and was my heart cry in the words,
To you, Oh Lord, I lift my soul.  
In you, Oh God, I place my trust... My hope is you.  Show me Your ways.  Guide me in Truth.  In all my days, My hope is You... My broken spirit shouts.  My mended heart cries out. 
I finished Bible college with an International Ministries degree.  After college, I spent a year as a missionary in Africa.  This was something that my heart had been drawn to.  It was an amazing time, but also very difficult, with continued feelings of inadequacy on my part.  After returning home to the US, I was very discouraged because I didn't feel like I could live as a missionary in a village for the rest of my life like I had planned.  I thought that I had failed God.

I found myself in a dark pit, in a tunnel with no light at the end.  Tunnel was my life.  It was like you were singing to me:
I won't pretend to know what you're thinking.  I can't begin to know what you're going through.  I won't deny the pain that you're feeling, but I'm gonna try and give a little hope to you.
I didn't feel there was hope.
Just remember what I've told you; there's so much you're living for.
"No," I thought, "I've lost what I was living for."
...There's a light at the end of this tunnel for you... There's a light at the end of this tunnel, shinin' bright at the end of this tunnel for you, for you.  So keep holdin' on.
But I could not hold on.  I could not see the light.  I let go.  I tried to kill myself.  They locked me up in the hospital psychiatric ward.  I was lost.  I could do nothing but cry.  Though I was let out of the hospital, my deep depression and struggle with the dark side of mental illness continued for years.  And you encouraged me to Cry Out to Jesus.
...And to all of the people with burdens and pains, keeping you back from your life, You believe that there's nothing and there in no one who can make it right.
My world was horrible.  A huge burden crushed me.  The pain inside was debilitating.  It was never going to change until I was in heaven.  I had no hope on this earth, but you sang:
There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, love for the broken heart.  There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing.  He'll meet you wherever you are.  Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus. 
I so wanted to believe this.  I was so tired.  I wanted to rest forever.  I felt my heart had been broken by God.  I hated myself.  I felt that I was the worst person that existed.  I cut myself.  This became an addiction, and I still have the scars on my body to show it.  Suicide was my continual desire.  You continued in your song:
For the ones who can't break the additions and chains, You try to give up, but you come back again.  Just remember that you're not alone in your shame and suffering.
...When you're lonely, and it feels like the whole world is falling on you, you just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus.  Cry to Jesus. 
Yes, the world was falling on me.  I cried to Jesus so many times.  I was never going to get better.  Death was the only answer.  But I cried out to Jesus.

I cried out to Jesus.
There is hope for the helpless.  Rest for the weary... He'll meet you wherever you are.
I listened over and over again to this song.  I cried and cried.  I cried out to Jesus.  And he held me tight.  He did not let me go.  He did not let me take my own life.

I cried out to Jesus, and slowly I climbed out of the deep dark pit of depression.  God sent His love and His people who loved me to take my hand and help me walk out of the dark tunnel to where there was light.

Your song, Mountain of God, speaks of my journey with God.
Thought that I was all alone, broken and afraid, but You were there with me.  Yes, You were there with me...
...'Til You opened up my eyes, I never knew that I couldn't ever make it without You...
Even though the journey's long, and I know the road is hard, well, the One who's gone before me, He will help me carry on.  After all that I've been through, now I realize the truth that I must go through the valley to stand upon the mountain of God. 
As I travel on the road that You have lead me down, You are here with me.  Yes, You are here with me.  I have need for nothing more.  Oh, now that I have found that You are here with me.  Yes, You are here with me. 
I finally realize that these things are true.  I did not know it, but God was there with me during those times of death, helping me to carry on.

I can say now that I have come out of that time.  I am able to stand upon that mountain of God and see the things have come through and learned.  I see that Jesus is here with me, and I feel it.  He is with me in my life on this earth, not just when life is over and I go to be with Him.

My journey continued in Mountain of God:
I confess from time to time I lose my way, but You are always there to bring me back again.
Sometimes I think of where it is I've come from and the things that I've left behind, but of all I've had, what I possessed, nothing can quite compare with what's in front of me, with what's in front of me.
I came from a deep pit, and endless tunnel.  I held on to death.  I had nothing worth living for in my life.

Now, I have hope because my life is really Jesus' life.  Love healed my heart.

I could go on about how Love Heals Your Heart gave me hope that, when I thought my life was shattered, and there was no way for it to be fixed again, love would heal my heart.  And it did!  "At a time [I] least expected," I was "alive like [I] had never been."

I could tell you about this new life I have.

I could tell you the details of how Trust in Jesus became my new anthem:
...what I've done is trust in Jesus, my Great Deliverer, my Strong Defender, the Son of God.  I trust in Jesus, Blessed Redeemer, my Lord forever, the Holy One, the Holy One...
Though in the past I had trusted in myself to do what God wanted me to do, now I live out the truth that:
There's nothing I can do on my own to find forgiveness.  It's by His grace alone.  I trust in Jesus, I trust in Jesus.
I could give you the examples in my life of how I now once again have a Soul on Fire, and I too sing with you:
God, I'm running for Your heart...Lord, I'm longing for Your ways.
You sing:
Lord, restore the joy I had.  I have wandered, bring me back.  In this darkness, lead me through until all I see is You. 
Can you believe He has done this for me!?!  The spark has been lit in my heart again.  I pray this verse in Soul on Fire:
Lord, let me burn for You again.  Let me return to You again.  And Lord, let me burn for You again.  And let me return to You again.
I would have loved to sit down with you and explained how I have seen the other side, the sin and misery.  I would have loved to tell you the story of being baptized in the Jordan River where I died to me and was raised with a promise to God that He would be the One to decide the days of my life.  He was now my life, and still is, and will remain until HE takes me home.

What will happen in my life from this point forward, I do not know.  That is for God to work in me.  He is my life.  He will do it.  He alone is my hope.  Your song In Jesus Name expresses what I want to remember and what I want to share with others.
The tired find rest...and those who mourn are comforted.  The chains are broken that have enslaved.  We're offered freedom In Jesus Name
There is power.  There is hope.  There is love like you're never known.  There is forgiveness and  healing from your pain, all through the power In Jesus name.
Let us find our life and love In Jesus Name.
Thank you, Third Day, for your music.  Now you see why I cried so when I met you, Mac, Mark, and David.  I am saying a prayer for you in Jesus name.  May Jesus be your life every day, and may your hearts forever remain in His love.

Your sister in Christ,

Cindy Wolf

p.s.  An analogy came to my mind of what it was like for me to meet you, and what it might be like for us when we meet Jesus one day.  This is it:

When I heard that my favorite band was coming to my city, I was very excited!  Right away I went out and got VIP tickets so I could meet you guys.  I thought that there was a chance I would be able to ask you a question.  I thought for days about what question I might like to ask.  At the concert when I listened and sang along to your music, memories from my life flooded in on me, and tears ran down my face.  

Then the concert was over, I was waiting toward the back of the line to meet you.  I went over and over in my mind how I would thank you for helping me to focus on Jesus during hard times.  Every step I took closer to the front of the line, the more real it became, and the more emotional I became.  I was not going to be able to share the depth of my thankfulness with you or to ask you any questions, but I could tell these to your pastor, Nigel, and he would let you know.  Just knowing you would know a little of my story was overpowering to me.  Then Nigel told you why I was crying when I came up to you.  Mac, you asked my name, and David, you looked in my tearful eyes and said, "Thank you so much for sharing."

What a relief your response was to my heart.  Even from your simple responses, I knew that I mattered in life.

This whole experience of the day I was able to meet you and say thank you, made me think of the fact that there is someone else even more amazing that I am looking forward to meeting!

We are going to get to meet Jesus one day.  You and I have believed in him.  We have our ticket, and we will be VIPs!  We will get to go up to him and touch and see him face to face.  Ours will not just be one moment on one night, but an eternity with him.  We will have all the time we want to ask him every question we have ever wondered.  There will be a concert too, but it will be for him because of his holiness, and I know I will join in the singing.

I am sure that all the emotion of seeing the way that Jesus loved and protected me over my life on earth will bring about an even greater eternal thankfulness.  Day by day, now, as I wait for Jesus coming, I get more and more excited!  I come closer and closer to his love.  I can't even begin to dream of what it will be like to meet him and to have him already know my name.  He will already truly know me and love me deeper that any person every could.

What a relief God's response to me will be to my heart and my soul.  Until Jesus comes, I will wait with you in eagerness for him who loves us best of all.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Out of the Darkness Happy Moment


I had a hugely happy moment the morning of October 3rd in Portland, OR.  The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention had an Out of the Darkness walk to raise money for suicide prevention.  I had decided that I would start a team for the walk.  I called it Wolf Pack for Life.  I thought maybe one or two people would join me, but our team ended up having fifteen people and over 20 people donate to my cause.  My parents drove three hours to be there, and my sister even flew up from California just to walk with me.  

The reason that this was such a happy moment for me was because it was a celebration of the fact that I am alive today.  These friends and family members had to go through so much worry and pain when they knew that I was buried in the blackness of depression and bipolar disorder.

Thirteen or so years ago, I tried to kill myself.  Every day for 6-8 years at every moment I had to make that choice whether I would kill myself then or stay alive for a few moments or a day longer.  It was truly hell for me.  

Over the years of that darkness, I got help in many ways and slowly, slowly stepped back into life.  I can say now that I am happy to be alive!  And the openness I have about sharing my story is helping others.  What a gift!

So, as I walked with these people that loved me and were physically showing the joy that they have in my life, I was so touched and glad that I didn't die by my suicide attempts.

As my sister and I walked past the memory garden that was set up for people to put pictures up in memory of those they lost by suicide, my sister looked at me and said simply and earnestly, "I am glad that you are not up there."

Tears immediately came to both our eyes, and all we could do was stand there in the middle of the crowds embracing each other tightly.  The memories flooded us both, but the joy and relief washed over it all.

I can not live this life alone.  It is the relationships and journey together that make it worth it all.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"I Shouldn't Feel This Way Survey"

1. What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?

At my funeral, I would like people to say that because of what they saw in my life, they were able to see and admit their own struggle and pain.  They would say that they were able to turn and get help and hope from Jesus and from the help he gives through people.  They would say that though they saw my struggle to stay alive on earth, I eventually held on and was able to be happy.  They would say that they knew it was always my desire to be in heaven with my Lord, but that I gave my life to him to decide when the right time would be for him to take me home.

I would hope that people would remember my kindness.  That they would know that in my life I loved them dearly.  I would hope that many people would want to share stories of how I helped or even just listened to them when they needed someone, and also stories of fun, learning, and laughter.  I would hope that my life would have impacted people for eternity.  I would really hope that a celebration of my life after I have died would also be a celebration of the One who died and rose again so that those who also believe may truly live.

2. How does writing that make you feel?

Writing this makes me feel challenged to live in the way that I want my life to impact others.  It makes me want to be kinder and more purposeful about living in a way that shows love for others.  Thinking about the shortness of life causes me to think about how I can be more present with people in the time I have.

Writing about my funeral causes me to think back over the many years that I wanted to die every moment of every day.  It was a time that I thought about my funeral more than most people do.  It is strange because part of me still feels that desire for life to be over, even though I have found help and unconditional love to get me through.  I have seen the world for what it is, in it's evilness and goodness.  This is not easy.  But I have made a promise to God and to everyone else that I will be here and present until God brings me home.  My funeral can wait for now.

Writing about my funeral and that fact that it might be far off, can sometimes bring me fear.  When a person comes to the point, like I did, where they decide they can always kill themselves if thing get too difficult, there is comfort of a way out of unbearable pain.  But when suicide is not an option anymore, that means when difficult things come, a person will have to go through them.  I suppose this can be when that love from God and others gets us through to the joy.

How does writing about what I would like others to say about me make me feel?  In short: challenged, desire for that moment to come, fear of the future, knowledge that I have help through pain, and joy from love and goodness and hope for a future.

3. If you had a time machine, how would you use it?

With a time machine, I would want to go back and observe the important moments in the lives of my mom, my grandmothers, and my great-grandmothers from the time they were born until the same age that I am today.  I would want to see the joys and tears, the excitement and fears, and the moments when the found hope.  I want to see how the woman who have come before me have influence who I have become today as a woman.

4. Please write as many of these as you feel like:

I'm supposed to feel ________ about _________, but I don't. I feel ___________.

  • I'm supposed to feel excited about going to group gatherings for fun, but I don't.  I feel anxious and stressed.
  • I'm supposed to feel sad and guilty for not having children, but I don't.  I feel relief.
  • I'm supposed to feel happy about going through times of hell in my life because it made me a better person, but I don't.  I feel angry at myself for being so weak that that is what it took for me to learn.
  • I'm supposed to feel happy about praying for others, but often I don't.  I feel fear that God is not hearing me because of my lack of true enthusiasm and concern that acts to bring about the change I am praying for.
  • I'm supposed to feel like I wouldn't welcome death, but I don't.  I feel like I would leave this earth with joy.  I can't wait for the next.  God has something he wants me to be here for though so I stay and rest in him.

5. How does it make you feel to write your real feelings out?

Writing these feelings out makes me feel somewhat ashamed.  It also makes me feel afraid of sharing them with others because I want people to have a good view of me.  I want them to think that I have it all together now.  But, the truth is that I don't.  

6. Do you think you're abnormal for feeling what you do?

Now, that I think of it, no, I am not abnormal.  I think we all have feelings that we feel aren't how we should feel.  I think that is what can make us feel so alone.  We are scared to make our true selves known.

7. Would knowing other people feel the same way make you feel better about yourself?

Yes, at this point in my life, it does make me feel better about myself to know I am not the only one who struggles with their feelings about themselves and life.  It makes me realize I am not alone.


On the other hand, when my life seemed like hell, knowing that other people felt the same way that I did, confirmed my thoughts of how bad the world really was.  When in a suicidal state, knowing that there were more people feeling terrible too, just compounded the awfulness of the world and gave me more reasons to want to die.  It just made me feel that we should all die.

Hope is a funny thing though.  Seeing others feel the same way that I do, and that they get through it and are okay, that make me feel better about myself.  I am not alone in hope for joy.

(This survey taken for the Mental Illness Happy Hour.)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

the beginning of the downward spiral

The following are sections of emails written to a friend in August 2001.  This was at the beginning of my spiral into depression.  I know it is sad, but I include it on my blog to show that even Christians who desire to be close to God can get depressed.  Sometimes we can't get out of it on our own.  We need help from outside ourselves.

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Saturday, August 25, 2001
me

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
me, i am still just here................
.................................................... life continues...what can I say?  i can't make sense of it right now.
sorry, i'm just trying not to think about some things...................
God, this is hard.  why must it be this way?

p.s. i am okay most of the time.  it is just when i think about things that the weariness, ache, and fear grips me, and i have to turn away.  i don't know how to do this.

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Sunday, August 26, 2001
so lost

i'm sorry about my silence.  i do still need help and encouragement and good words at this time.

it is just that i don't want anyone to have to go through the stuff that i put myself through.  sometimes it can be like a dark cloud floating in front of my eyes,
or walking through a river upstream.
other times (like last night) it is more like a lightning bolt that strikes me,
and i find myself collapsed on the bathroom floor in tears from the force.

after time, i know God brings me out the other side.
so i just wait.

i don't know how God wants me to do this.
....forgive me.........................please............

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Monday, August 27, 2001
Personality test weaknesses results

My personality is Melancholy.
My weaknesses include:

  • Easily depressed.  I have a hard time realizing that I control others by my moods.  I tend to take everything too personally, and I frequently look for trouble.  I spend too much mental energy dwelling on negatives.
  • Low self-image.  Because of my inborn negative inclinations, I focus my judgment most harshly upon myself.
  • Procrastination.  Because I am a perfectionist, I often refrain from starting certain projects because I am afraid I won't do them right.
  • Put unrealistic demands on others.  Because I have high standards I do everything to perfection, but when I impose my standards on others, this trait becomes a weakness.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2001
Weakness Results

well, i guess now you understand a bit better some of the things that are a constant struggle for me.  i don't know what answers i have other than to live my life the way i believe God wants me to, to try to live for God and other people so as to try to forget about myself.  maybe now you see why I try so hard and put myself through so much, and maybe you see how I do get frustrated with and depressed with life.  it is very hard not to.  i am just glad that my real home is not here, but in heaven.  otherwise, I could not live.  Jesus is my hope.

---------------------------------

Once I began this spiral down into depression, the only way that I came out was through friends reaching in to help pull me out, medications to help my brain chemistry, counseling to talk through my fears, the prayers of my family to give me strength, and even a hospital stay now and then to rescue me from death or harm.  As a Christian, I was ashamed.  But, it turns out that the illness that came over me in a mental and emotional way was not a struggle to be ashamed of.   It was a struggle that taught me what love is: from God unconditionally and from his people who are in this struggle called life with me.  

If you find yourself in this struggle of depression as a Christian.  Do not be ashamed.  Reach out for the help that God has provided in friends, medications if necessary, professional therapy and talking, prayer from others, and even with emergency measures.  God loves you unconditionally.  Your brothers and sisters in Christ love you as well.

Jesus is still our hope.  Thank you Jesus.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Arriving Home; Writing Back to Kenya

I am including the following as an entry in my blog for my own memory's sake.  I wrote the following two messages to my friends in Kenya who I had just lived with for an entire year.  This is about the moment I arrived home, back in the States.  I want to remember the joy I felt when I was surprised with the excitement and love from so many people welcoming me home.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2001
In the USA

Bwana asifiwe!
Praise God!

God has brought me safely to the US.  I am now at the office in Pearl River, New York before heading the rest of the way home to Oregon.  My Kenyan clock says 2:50am, though the time here is 7:50pm only.  I only got about three or four hours of sleep total on both of my flights, which means I have had about four hours sleep in the last 40 hours.  S, I think that I will go sleep now, but I wanted you to know that I am safe, though I am already missing everyone in Kenya that I love and hold close to my heart.  I could not stop thinking of all of you that I left at the airport, and tears came to my eyes more than once.  I miss you already.  I thank God that He holds you in His hands.

All my love,
~Cindy

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Friday, August 3, 2001
Oregon

I'm home!

Wow, it was so great arriving in Oregon last night after flying all day.  And what a surprise also awaited me!  When I got off the airplane in Portland where I was to have a three hour layover before flying the remaining short distance to my home near Redmond, there was my grandma holding flowers and ready to give me a big hug!  I was so surprised because I had not even told her when I was coming through.  She had also brought with her one of my aunts and a cousin, as well as the new wife of my youngest uncle who is my age.  I had never met her before.  They took me out for a nice meal, then I returned to the airport where I met my sister.  I missed her so much and we shard a few minutes together before I had to fly out again.  I will see her again tomorrow though so it was okay to only get a few moments together.

Upon flying the rest of the way, I got off the plane in Redmond and was greeted with hugs and flowers and a balloon from my parents, only then to realize that it was not just them.    They had brought a whole group of people who had all been praying for me over that past year I spent in Kenya, to greet me at the airport.  One guy was even taping the event with his video camera!  My arms were full of flowers and hugs and my heart full of smiles.  God is so good to me to have given me such wonderful and caring people in my life and to have kept me safely up to this point where I can join with those people that I love again.  So, thank you for your prayers.  Keep in touch.  As you can see, I hope to still be very present in your life, if not in person , then in words.  I miss you all.  Seeing these people that I love cannot help but remind me even of the people that I love that I had to leave behind for now.  You are in my prayers.

God bless and keep you.
~Cindy

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p.s.  Thank you to everyone mentioned above.  I still remember your love and prayers for me.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Glance of the City Market

Friday, May 4, 2001
Nairobi, Kenya

Dear Family,

Jambo.  Hi, how are you today?  I am doing well, and about ready to go back to Muthyoi(the village) tomorrow morning.  I have packed all my things back up, though my bags are a bit tighter because I seem to collect things every time I come into town.

I had a lot of fun this morning.  A group of six of us "white foreigners" went to the city market in downtown Nairobi.  This is always interesting because as soon as they see white people the African sellers quickly gather around us saying, "Friend, friend come look...don't buy, just look.  It doesn't cost to look."  Then, as soon as you go into their section to look, it becomes difficult to get out.  They try so hard to sell things to us.
I remember the first week I was in Nairobi, and we went to the market.  I was so overwhelmed by it all, so many things to buy, and so many people surrounding us and pestering us.  But now I have gotten used to it, and I feel quite comfortable going there.  I am not bothered by the many people trying to sell me things at high tourist prices.  I think I got some good deals in my bargaining (an African dress, a purse, a belt, etc...).  I found myself laughing at the whole process and the things some people do to try to get us to buy their things.

I thought that you might like to experience a snippet of what it is like to live here in Africa.  Love you all.

Mungu Akubariki,

~Cindy

Monday, July 6, 2015

Five Songs to Get Me Through Kenya

As I sit here in an air conditioned coffee shop in America, on a hot day in mid summer, drinking my Carmel Ribbon Crunch decaf Frapuccino, it is hard for me to feel the same feeling that I felt 14 years ago in Africa.

I had been living in a village in Kenya in East Africa for nine months.  I was 25 years old, single, and very far from home on my own.  I lived in the village of Muthyoi with an African family.  I was a missionary to the people there and my desire and job was to share the good news of Jesus with them.  I wanted to live in such a way that my foreignness was not a hinderance to the message I had to share.  Because of this, when I arrived in Africa, I did not bring with me things or technologies that might bring extra attention to myself.  My white skin stood out enough when surrounded by all black faces.

For six months, I was the only "Mzungu" (white foreigner) in this village, then for six months another single gal, who was just out of high school and from another country, joined me in the village.  There was no electricity or running water,  no vehicles or paved roads, no coffee shops with air conditioning or specialty drinks.  It was wonderful in many ways, but it was very difficult in many overall.

One of the things that I did not bring with me to Africa was any type of music.  I did not have a radio, or CD player, or even a cassette tape player.  In the small brick house that I lived in, it would become very quiet once the sun went down at 7:00 each night.  I was left alone to eat my dinner that the house girl had cooked for me over the fire in the mud hut that was the kitchen.  I could read by karosene lamp light or play solitaire with my deck of cards, or plan for what I was going to teach the next day at church or at the primary school, but the quiet of the evenings left time for my mind to play tricks on me and bring me down.

Growing up back in the U.S. I had listened to music constantly.  The type of music that I listened to could often indicate the mood that I was in at the time.  I also played the piano, which was a way of expressing my feelings.  Out in the African village, I did not have my outlet for expressing how I felt.    I did not have anyone from my culture to talk to, so any difficulties I had understanding the culture or doing my job of teaching, etc...stayed stuck in my head.

By the time six month had passed of living this way, I decided that, for my sanity, I needed music and a voice from the outside world.  So, next time I went to the city, a fellow missionary lent me a world band radio and the high school girl that came to join me in the village brought with her a portable CD player run on batteries.  This was sooo exciting for me!  I went to the only Christian music store in the city and bought one CD.  There were not many options.  I chose one by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers.  This CD I listened to over and over again for the next months.

I felt that many things were weighing on me in Kenya.  They were draining my energy and making me sad.  So, I have written this all right now as an intro to share the words to five of the songs from the Brooklyn Tabernacle CD that encouraged my soul at that time in Africa.  At that difficult time when I had many reasons to be unsure about myself and my circumstances, this music of Jesus helped me hold on.  I found these words of the songs written in a letter to a friend of mine from May 4 of that year I spent in Africa.

Put All Your Trust in Jesus Today
Jesus has promised to love and care for you.
No matter the pain or the problem, He'll be faithful to see you through, if you...
Put all you trust in Jesus today.  You'll find rest when His will you obey.
He will answer whenever you pray.  So put all your trust in Jesus today.
My friend, don't be discouraged when problems come your way.
Just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, and he'll give you a brighter day, when you...
Put all your trust in Jesus today.  You'll find rest when His will you obey.
He will answer whenever you pray. So, put all your trust in Jesus today.

Jesus Will Make a Way
I've been tested and been tried, tossed by winds on every side,
Faced mountains in my way, couldn't see the light of day,
In my desperate hour, I just called on His name, and found that Jesus He made a way.
Jesus will make a way.  Jesus will make a way.
Through every dark cloud, through every day, I know that Jesus will make a way.
I've been tired and so afraid, been discouraged and so down,
Was tempted to be loved, and felt so ashamed,
But the day that I looked at Him, and I called out His name, I found that Jesus He made a way.
I know that Jesus He'll make a way.

God is Able
The decree came down to all the land, to the people in the kings command,
Bown down to the dusty ground when they heard the trumpet sound
But the children of God refused to kneel.  They defied the king with a firey zeal.
They were thrown in the flame that day, but you could hear the children say...
God is able.  God is able to deliver from the fire.
He will rescue those who serve Him when the flames are burning higher.
Don't you know that some things never change, and the firey trials are still the same.
The saints of God must face the test if you can stand above the rest.
Take courage friend and walk on through.  The Lord will face the fire with you.
Stand with the saints and say... My God will provide a way.

Hiding Place
The Spirit of the Lord is in this place.  Our hearts are warmed by His embrace.
All our doubts and our fears we find erased when the Spirit of the Lord is in this place.
Hold me, hold me.  I'm in the midst of the storm.
Jesus hold me, hold me.  I'll be safe in my Father's arms.
You are my hiding place.  You are my hiding place.
In the shelter of Your presence I find I'm safe.  Lord, You are my hiding place.
I'll be safe in my Father's arms for You are my hiding place.

God is Gonna Finish Just What He Started
God is gonna finish just what H started, even though the waters got to be parted.
Lift up your hand, don't be broken hearted.  God is gonna finish what He started in you.
He who began a good work in you is able to complete it.
God is gonna finish what He started in you.

These songs were such an encouragement to me.  It was good to know that God was going to finish the work that He started in me.  I could put all my trust in Jesus those days, knowing that He was able to deliver me from anything that could come against me, and have confidence that He would make a way for me.  He was my place of safety.  I knew then, that I could always hide in Him.

I hope this encourages you as well.

Friday, May 22, 2015

OCD: Reflections on Skin Picking and Hair Pulling #2

The following three questions about resilience were proposed to me in a second email by the OCD Center of L.A. as it relates to skin picking and hair pulling.  This is something that I have and do struggle with.  It seems to be in reaction to anxieties, known and unknown, that I carry in my life.  After answering last week's questions and coming up with some good ideas of other ways to cope, I still had trouble stopping this compulsion.  I have gotten frustrated by how difficult it can be to follow through with simple changes.  Maybe you have some compulsive behaviors that have broken into your life that you could use to answer these questions also. 

The OCD center of L.A. says:
A setback is a crucial opportunity to learn resilience by understanding what triggered the behavior, what techniques did not work in a specific situation, and how you can change your behavior in order to reduce the likelihood of having a similar setback in the future. Resilience is the cornerstone to making effective change during your recovery. 
Resilience
"Choosing to get up and try again."

1) In what situations have you stumbled and found yourself needing a greater level of resilience?
  • I found many flaws in my skin this week and picked at them.  They became bigger flaws.   Also, I ate lots of sugar this week at work.  There was a party for a coworker on a day that I was not at the office, but for the rest of the week I found that I could not resist the many sweet things that remained every day.  I think I even gave myself a headache from it.  By the end of the week I felt ugly and fat, and like I was failing.  I did do my exercises on a number of days, but not every day like I intended to do.  So, I guess a little good, but I needed that greater level of resilience to do better and be more consistent at the good intentions I have.
2) In what situations have you effectively exhibited resilience?
  • A couple years ago when I lived within seven miles of work, I decided that I would ride my bicycle to work each day, since I did not have a car, and I had to get to work anyway.  I began riding.  I found that there were hills to climb and traffic to look out for.  I continued slowly pedaling up the hills a little faster each day, and I learned how to find which roads were designated as roads that were safer for bicycles.  Then it started raining daily.  I did not quit riding.  I bought rain gear (waterproof pants, coat, gloves, backpack, and shoe covers) and also put fenders on my bike.  I did not quit riding.  This activity every day, though difficult, made me feel healthier, refreshed, and good about myself.  Being resilient in this situation was worth it and made me proud of myself.  It also distracted me from having the time to pick at my skin.
3) What specific techniques have worked or not worked after previous setbacks?
  • Techniques that have not worked for me in the past after previous setbacks include telling myself that I am stupid for having weaknesses and believing that I am a failure because I could not be perfect at what I was trying to do or not to do.  Both of these subconscious "techniques" have only had the consequence of making me want to quit.  I may have been partially successful and done better than I had before, but I did not take that into account.  I just got frustrated.
  • A technique that has worked for me after previous setbacks is to enlist the help of a friend or family member that I trust.  Now that I live too far away from work to ride my bicycle each day, I have gotten out of shape and put on more weight than I care to admit.  I recently decided that I wanted to join an Athletic Club because I wanted to start doing some yoga classes and swimming.  My husband and I can now say to each "lets go to the gym together".  Going together gives us more companionship and makes it fun to encourage each other and even try new things.  I also am going to a trainer for a little while to help me know how to work out my whole body and integrate health and balance into my whole being.  This is another person who encourages me not to worry about setbacks, but to start each day with good intentions and follow through with them as much as I can with a positive "Yes, I can" attitude.  It is helping me to restart a new day each day by choosing to get up and try again.  I can remember the small joys of releasing the negative parts that I built up inside of me.  It helps to remember the smiles.  I am also hoping that this technique with it will bring other changes as one part of myself affects all the others.

On another note, I must put forth to you the truth that without it I cannot have the continued resilience that I need:  
I am a fallen being in my core, as it says in the Bible, so no matter how hard I try, I will at some point lose my resilience.  But there is good news.  God says he is faithful, and he will complete the good work that he has started in me.  God sent Jesus, his perfect Son, to rescue me from my sin.  I can receive that salvation by just my confession and belief in him.  I cannot do this on my own, no matter how hard I try.  And as God has made me a whole person, not a person of disconnected parts, I believe that when I give myself wholly to him, his saving grace reaches me as a whole person, in my spiritual self, my emotional self, my relational self, my mental self, and my physical self.  God has started good things in the various parts of me, and I pray that I can trust him as he continues, in his time, to complete the good work in me.  Jesus is how I am resilient.  God's is the hand that I reach for to help me get up and try again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

OCD: Reflections on Skin Picking and Hair Pulling #1

The following three questions about happiness were proposed to me in an email by the OCD Center of L.A. as it relates to skin picking and hair pulling. This type of coping behavior can be very embarrassing, but this is something that I have and do struggle with. It seems to be in reaction to anxieties, known and unknown, that I carry in my life. I have decided to fill out the answers to the questions to see if it sheds any light on why I do what I do. Maybe you have some compulsive behaviors that have broken into your life that you could use to answer these questions also.

Happiness
  1. What types of messages do you tell yourself about happiness in day to day life? 
    • If I can have smooth skin and not see or know about the imperfections on and under my skin, I will be happier.  I will feel more pure and like there is not poison inside of me.
    • I don't feel as good when I am overweight, so that makes me unhappy.  I feel like people are looking down on me and thinking that I have no control over myself and the temptations that come my way.  I think that they think I am a bad person.  Also, I feel ugly and want to hide myself.  I get sad because my clothes do not fit, then I feel guilty if I spend any money to buy clothing that is bigger.
    • If I can get everything that I believe is helpful from my life experience written down, then more people will be helped.  When people are helped my life will be worth something.  I will find happiness from hearing how other people who are struggling are helped by what I have gone through.  If I cannot get what is in my head down in words, then people will not be encouraged.
  2. What behaviors do you do when you feel unhappy that provide short term gratification, but ultimately lead to more distress?
    • I pull the few whiskers on my chin and tweeze my eyebrows.  I pick at the marks I see on my legs and arms and face.  Then I get embarrassed because these spots get worse and get infected, which means that I have to deal with them even more.  Picking makes me feel like I am getting rid of the bad that is under my skin.  It makes me think that I will heal, and things will be better than before.
    • I eat one more cookie or piece of cake when it is put in front of me.  I finish the entire unhealthy meal at a restaurant or catered event.  I think, at least if I am feeling heavy and bad about myself, I will enjoy this moment of enjoyable sugary and fattening food.  I put more garbage on the inside hoping that somehow it will make the outside clean and beautiful.  I try not to think about what I am eating because I don't want to become obsessed about it.
    • Sometimes there are too many thoughts running through my head.  I write one sentence down, and then all the thoughts come rushing in as a crowd all at once.  It is like having a massive amount of friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers running haphazardly all around me. They all keep bumping into me until I become dizzy.  This is when I tell myself it is useless to try to think straight.  Inwardly I tell myself I am stupid and useless and leave that first sentence alone so that I feel guilty.
  3. What behaviors could you choose to do instead that might be more likely to lead to long-term happiness?
    • Instead of picking my skin, I could put pretty smelling lotion on my skin.  By doing this I am giving my skin the moisture it needs to heal, rather than making it harder to heal.  I could also turn from gazing at myself in the mirror where I focus on any tiny flaw, and I could look down at the wedding ring on my finger.  Looking at this beautiful ring that was given to me as a symbol of the covenant that my husband and I made to each other reminds me of his love for me.  Through his eyes, he sees a beautiful woman that is perfect for him.  He loves me with all my flaws.  When I am accepting of this, I allow him in even closer to my inner self, and we see even more of the beauty of each other.
    • The issue of food is a difficult one for me to think of alternative behaviors to.  I do have to eat, and I don't want to have to be obsessed and thinking about bad and good food at every moment.  So instead of behaviors to do with food, I will switch to behaviors to do with the idea of putting garbage on the inside hoping it will make me clean and beautiful on the outside.  I am a whole person, not just a body.  I have a mind and a soul.  I want goodness and truth going to the center of me so that what comes out of my life is clean and beautiful for all to see.  The behavior that I want to do is to read the Word of God and to listen to people's stories of salvation and rescue from sin through the blood of Jesus.  This, I believe, will make me more joyful knowing the truth, the hope I have, and the hope that is there for others.  More joy will fill my life, and I will delight in sharing it with others.
    • Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts running and swirling through my head.  Instead of getting overwhelmed and thinking that I need to deal with every thought that comes or instead give up, I can breath and calm my mind.  One way I do this is through mindfulness meditation.  I choose one thought or object or subject and sit quietly, only focussing my mind on that.  It is like being in a crowd and being overwhelmed and deciding to grab one friend's hand and just focus on them.  This makes the craziness in and around me slowly move back from view, and a calmness can come.  This may help me to be able to write an email or blog entry or just calm my mind, but even if I am still unable to calm my mind, I can trust the fact that God does not think any less of me for not writing that email or not putting up that one more blog post.  Yes, God delights to use me with writing, but that is for him to do through me.  I cannot force God.  It is not my power that I can use for God.  It is God's power that works through my weakness.  So instead of feeling stupid when I cannot do something, I will praise God for my weakness, that when I am able to write, it will be because of Him alone.     Amen.

Friday, April 24, 2015

First Day of Therapy Survey

[Adapted from a survey I filled out for the Mental Illness Happy Hour.]  

1. What brought you to therapy?

I felt extremely "bad".  I didn't know why.  I thought I should have been able to go through my year abroad in Africa as a missionary for God and find joy and peace and bring many people to Jesus, but I didn't.  I felt like I was a failure at the most important thing that I could ever do for God, but everyone around me thought I was a hero and an amazing person.  I knew it was a lie.  I couldn’t do it.  Only one friend of mine could see through the stories I told of my time in Africa to the extreme difficulty of it and the extreme difficulty of returning to the US.  He told me I should talk to a counselor.  I could not do it myself, so he asked if he could have them call me to set up an appointment.  I said yes.  Really, I just wanted death because I knew that everything I had dreamed for my life was over and there was nothing else of meaning left for me.


2.   Describe any fears you had associated with starting therapy

I had no idea what therapy even was.  I grew up in a happy and loving Christian family and had a life that was pretty sheltered from pain so I thought that only very bad people with awful lives went to therapy.  At that point though, I was afraid of everything and I rarely even left the house, or answered the phone, or opened the curtains without breaking down.  I guess my fears associated with starting therapy was that it would be confirmed that I was the most sinful and horrible Christian that lived because of my "bad" feelings.


3.  Of the fears you described, did any of them come true?

My fears were mostly of the unknown so I can't say if those came true, but my fear of being confirmed as the most sinful and horrible Christian that lived because of my "bad" feelings, did not come true. I was given compassion, and it was explained to me that even Christians can get depressed and have mental illnesses that are caused by an imbalance of the chemicals in their brains. I was given hope, not shame.

I can say that I should have been afraid of becoming too emotionally attached to and dependent on my therapist and him becoming too attached to me, because when his moral downfall came and his life fell apart, and he was fired, it broke me even more, and I almost died by suicide because of it.  I had depended on him to keep me alive, and when his support was taken away I hadn’t developed the strength to give myself support or find enough other healthy support. I fell hard.


4.  As a client, describe what worked best for you in therapy (example: having a safe place to be completely honest, learning new coping skills, homework, venting, etc.)

The first good thing that really helped me in therapy was learning a vocabulary to describe what I felt, because all I knew was that I felt "bad" all the time.  I didn’t know what the “bad” was or how to describe it.  
The most powerful thing that worked for me was having another person show unconditional love and acceptance of me no matter what I said or how deep down in the pit I was.  

When I had tried a couple times to kill myself and was actively cutting on myself, the best thing for me was Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) because it taught me survival skills, all of which I had lost.  I had to relearn how to live and have something to do to stop me from committing suicide, which I thought about every moment for years.  

After I had learned survival skills, the best thing for me in therapy was to be with a new therapist that I trusted completely with my spiritual thoughts and questions about myself, about God, and about the world. I could finally think clearly enough to consider and be ready for these thoughts.  It was at a time when I needed real, true answers, and he helped direct me through his knowledge and research of God’s Word, his personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and his understanding of psychology, mental illness, and medicine.

The best thing for me to get over my fear of driving and the Post Traumatic Stress from being involved in five car accidents in three years was to see a therapist who specialized in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR).  Though I started at an extremely high panic level and found the process very difficult, over the weeks and months, that level slowly came down little by little until I was actually able to have calm and start driving again.


5.  As a client, what were your initial impressions of your therapist? Was there anything he or she did that was unsettling to you?

All I really remember was that I was deathly afraid of coming out of my house and that fear compounded when I had to sit and wait in the waiting room for the unknown.  Then, when in his office, the distance between my seat on the couch and his seat on his swiveling chair seemed too great.  That made me feel like I was offensive to him in some way.  Also, I didn’t understand his strict adherence to time.  I had just come from a culture where cutting off time with someone before you were done with your topic (even if that took a long time) was rude and meant that you didn’t really care for the person. It was difficult for me to not misinterpret the meaning of these actions and think that I was a waste of his time and space.  My impressions about his demeanor though, were that he seemed calming, accepting, and genuine in his desire to help me feel better.


6.  Do you feel you can be completely honest with your therapist? If yes, describe how you came to feel that way. If not, describe why that is, what changes you could make, or some things you think your therapist could do to help you feel safer.

Yes, I can be honest with my current therapist with most things.  I do have difficulty sharing those things that I am still feeling shame or embarrassment for.  I am not sure what to suggest except for my therapist to ask me this very question straightforwardly about what I don't feel like I can be honest about.  

I would like to know why certain things had the opportunity to happen in my life and how those things may still be affecting me. I don't know if this is important though. I did share a bit about this subject with my therapist, and I found that she was a safe and validating person to share with. I think I would have felt comfortable to share even more with her if she would have asked a few more questions to help me put words to what was inside.


7.  Is there anything else you would like to share with a group of new therapists? Any insights from your work as a client?

It can be very damaging to make your client become completely dependent on your help and support as their only means of survival. It happened to me, and when that person was suddenly cut out of my life and fired from being a therapist, I was left in a state that was almost worse than how I was when I first went to him.  I was still depressed, but now I also was abandoned and my trust had been broken.  I nearly killed myself.

A therapist can be of great help and save people’s lives, but please do not make yourself the only means by which a client stands, because if you fall, the person leaning on you will have no strength in their legs, and will find themselves fallen in a worse, weakened state than when they began with you.  It was important for me to be taught to find the source of true strength in life and to strengthen my own emotional, mental, spiritual, and relational muscles so that I could stand on my own, and if I fell, I could know how to pick myself back up and stand again.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Awfulsome Moment #3

For a year, I rode my bicycle to and from work every day.  I was always very careful to wear my helmet, use lights at night, wear bright clothing, ride on roads with bike lanes, and watch out for crazy and un-alert drivers.  I was as safe as I could be.

I worked at a clinic in a hospital.  I left work around 6:00pm one Tuesday night and was riding my bike along road.  I had only gone one block when suddenly, a guy in a parked car opened his car door directly into my shoulder.  I was knocked off my bike into the middle of the road.  Luckily no cars were coming, but I had blood running down my leg and a huge bruising knot on my shoulder.

The guy in the car was very shocked and apologizing.  I ended up just walking home with my bike, happy that my bike or I had at least left a mark on his car door.

The awfulsome thing is that the next day when I was walking in to the hospital to go to work, I saw a flyer on the door giving directions to the room for the "Driver Safety Class" on Tuesday nights at 6pm!  I don't think the guy that hit me had learned very much in his class yet!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Awfulsome Moment #1

[The following is from a survey I filled out for the Mental Illness Happy Hour.  I did not come up with the word awfulsome myself, but isn't it a good word?]

SURVEY:
Share an AWFULSOME moment from your life. Something that was awful and dark, but had an element that was awesomely ironic, sickly funny or bizarre. A moment that makes you want to cry and laugh at the same time.

ME:  
For a few years I had a job as a caregiver at an adult foster care home that was in a family's home. Usually when I was taking care of the three developmentally disabled men in the home, there was still someone from the family that lived there in the back rooms, and I could call them if something went wrong.

The family wanted to go out for a nice night together so for the first time I was left alone with the guys. I put the three guys to bed for the night, then finished making a sack lunch for them for the next day. Suddenly one of the guys came storming out of his room upset that I was making his lunch. He grabbed the lunch and threw it at me along with the soda that was inside. Then he ran after me in rage. As I ran, I picked up a wooden kitchen chair and held it up between us. He was a big man, and he grabbed the chair and pushed me into a corner of the room. There was a narrow staircase directly behind me with a door at the top step. I thought I could escape, but then remembered that tonight the family had locked the door to that room, so now I had no way out.

I lifted the chair up with him holding on to it, then ducked under it, dropped it, and started running away. But I was not fast enough. He turned around and grabbed me by the neck with both his large hands. I had just finished a class through the state of Oregon that taught us how to deal with behaviors of people who are developmentally disabled who may misbehave or become violent. Luckily I remembered what I learned and ducked my head under his arm and spiraled around so that he lost his grip on my neck and fell forward onto the floor.

I ran a few feet away and grabbed the phone. I pointed down at the 200+ lb guy now laying on the floor, and said sternly, "If you move a muscle I am calling the police."

I tried calling the owners of the house to have them come home, while he mumbled to himself on the floor. Mentally this man was probably around six years old even though he had the grown body of a 40 year old.

Nobody answered the call I made so I just stood there holding the phone while he calmed down. When it seemed like he had sufficiently calmed down, I asked him if he was going to be nice. He mumbled a yes.

I went over to him, helped him off the floor, and led him back to bed. It wasn't until he was tucked in and I was out of his room that I realized I had blood running down my face from a deep cut above my eye.

So there I was with blood running down my face after being attacked and almost strangled, realizing that I had just led my attacker back to his bed as I would a little child while speaking comforting things to him and tucking him in for sleep.

~Cindy

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Struggle in a Sentence - Survey #2



Survey:  Struggle in a Sentence
We would like to help people who don't have a mental illness, get a little understanding of what it might feeling like.  If you struggle with any of the following areas, in a few words or a sentence, describe what your struggle feels like. (It can be a struggle now or in the past).

Cindy:

I do not have all the following diagnosis', but I do have some of them, and the other one's I commented on, I have felt a bit what they are like.
  • Depression:  Stuck in the deepest pit, dark clouds above my head, with a force field closely surrounding me so you can't come in.
  • Bipolar:  Some days I make long lists and keep checking them off, others everything just drops to the floor and nothing moves, including me.
  • Anxiety:  Something is going to happen...it's going to be bad.  Someone is going to notice...it is going to be worse.  I won't be able to deal with it...I will implode and explode all at the same time.
  • Panic Attacks:  Like a pressure of fear is building up inside me, but I am frozen in one place.  My heart speeds up, and it is hard to catch a breath.  I feel the tears and hyperventilation coming.  The elephant that is sitting on my chest is going to crush me.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD):  The world is too much to take in.  I promised you I would call if I wanted to hurt myself, so here I am, "hi."  Now I can do it.  Wait, I will learn a way to survive.
  • Bulimia:  I tried it, one single, solitary time, but I was a failure.  Too difficult.  Too gross.
  • Anorexia:  "I am not anorexic.  I just haven't eaten for four or five months," I said to myself.  I was fat, then not so much.  Once.  Twice.  It is too all consuming to consume nothing.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):  0, 2, 4 ,6, 8..9, 11  No!!!  Fix it!  Fix it!  It's not ok!
  • Cutting and Self Harm:  I cut so I can know I will be able to kill myself if I need to.  I focus on the pain so I won't.
  • Co-Dependency:  "Thank you for saving me.  Don't leave me or I will die."
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):  Flash!  It's back again!  Panic!  I must stay far away.
  • Trichotillomania (hair pulling):  How did that happen? Half my eyebrows are gone.  I guess I pulled them out without even realizing it.
  • Dermatillomania (skin picking):  I must get the imperfection off my skin.  It feels like there is poison under my skin.  I need to let it out.

Survey:
Comfort in a sentence.
Thank you for your answers.  Is there anything that you have learned about God through the above feelings and experiences that you can share with others in similar situations?

Cindy:
Yes, though some of these things took me a long time to learn.
  • Depression:  God comes down into the pit with me.  He becomes my refuge.  He is gentle, humble, and gives me rest for my soul.
  • Bipolar:  Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He can handle my ups and downs.
  • Anxiety:  Something is going to happen...it's going to be bad, but God is with me.  Someone is going to notice...it is going to be worse, but God is with me.  I may feel that I am going to implode and explode all at the same time, but God is with me.
  • Panic Attacks:  The panic goes down as I imagine Jesus sitting next to me ready to rescue me and give me strength.  I take a deep breath and let it out in trust as the panic slowly subsides.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD):  It took a lot of struggle, and asking for help, and learning to live life all over again.  One thing at a time.  But on the good side, my relationship with my God feels like I am starting anew as well.  A new love from him and for him, and new excitement as he shows me simple joys he can give me, one at a time.  He is patient.
  • Anorexia:  "It is ok to be flawed and fabulous," (quote from a Dove candy wrapper).  The true food I need is the very Word of God.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):  0, 2, 4 ,6, 8..9, 11........Its ok.  I can fix it, or I can leave it.  God holds the world in his hands.
  • Cutting and Self Harm:  Jesus loves me just as I am.  I do not need to hate myself.  When God looks at me, he does not see all my sin and turn away, he sees the perfection of his Son who saved me.  Jesus took the punishment for my sin.  I believed.  Now I do not need to hurt myself.  Mine life is not mine to take.
  • Co-Dependency:  Jesus is the one who truly saved me.  He is with me so I can be ok even at the times I am on my own.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):  Every time it comes back, God comforts me anew and  carries me through.
  • Trichotillomania (hair pulling):  God knows the number of hairs on my head and all that is within my heart.
  • Dermatillomania (skin picking):  It is amazing that no matter what I do, God keeps healing me.

Survey:
Sum up in a sentence (or a few).

Cindy:
I become depressed and struggled and wanted to die.  God came down, he is continually with me, he's always the same, he comforts me anew, and he carries me as I need him to do.
No matter the bad that I feel or that I do, as I give me heart to God, he keeps healing me through and through.
One day he will take me home, when it is a joy for him to do.