A Letter to Adele Marie

Since my last post, there have been a few major changes in my life. As you know toward the end of last year I lost my grandfather and the beginning of this year I lost my great grandmother. When I began this blog I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and used this platform as an avenue to share my story with the hope of helping others. Little did I know this blog would open doors for me to help others dealing with mental illness. I said all that to say that after my last excerpt  “The Essence of Time” I have some exciting news to announce to my readers.

_MG_6046 (2)On July 14th my husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world. She came at the perfect time in my life, just when I was beginning to wonder what exactly my purpose in life was. For the past three years, since being diagnosed with anxiety, I’ve had my share of lows. When I found out I was expecting I was mixed with emotions, it came so unexpectedly that I didn’t think with all the trauma I went through that I’d be fit to be a mother.

In short, October 2015 started an emotional spiral for me after burying four friends from a tragic car accident, then months later burying a close aunt, from there a grandfather and shortly after that a friend that took her life by suicide. Going through all those things I wasn’t sure how I’d cope. In addition to all the loss, there were other casualties I experienced. My faith was tested and after months of panic, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety. There were days I’d lie in hospital beds ridden with fear from panic attacks wondering why I existed. I turned away from my relationship with Christ and turned to other remedies to cope with my pain. Remedies that consisted of trying to find answers to my anxiety via Google, shopping and excessive spending, not going to church and wallowing in misery.

For those of you that are new to my blog please check out my first post to get more detail on the last few years of my experience with anxiety. Fast forward back to the birth of my daughter and I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. For the past few years, I’ve experienced so much pain and now I know it was apart of my purpose. Being a mother has given me something else to live for and for my daughter I am forever grateful.  While there is so much to catch you all up on, which I will do in future posts, I want to take the time to share a letter I wrote to my daughter.

Dear Adele Marie, 

As I write this letter I am in awe of your presence. I couldn’t have timed your arrival in your dad and I’s lives for a better time. Since you’ve been born being your mother has been one of the best roles I’ve ever had in my life. I want you to know that you have given my life so much more meaning. Not only am I overwhelming filled with joy, I also have so much peace in my heart. For years there was a void in my heart waiting to be filled and your life has filled every crack and crevice that needed repair. Part of my life’s purpose is being a mother to you. I can’t wait to watch you grow and blossom into a beautiful young woman. Meeting you showed me God’s unconditional love for me. He saw fit to bless me with you. More importantly He placed you in my life in His timing and as always the timing was perfect. You are everything I’ve been praying for. You’ve reminded me to trust God in ways that I forgot how to and now I can rest assure His promises for me are coming to pass. I love everything that you are and want you to know you mean so much to me!

I just want to thank you all for your continued support and for reading my writing. I can’t wait to share with you all more about my pregnancy experience and my journey as a new mom so, stay tuned!

The Essence of Time

Yesterday I was sitting in church for my great-grandmother’s 86th birthday celebration. It was quite the momentous occasion that brought family members together from near and far. Although there were a number of memorable moments that stood out to me I was most intrigued by the sermon delivered. My great-grandmother grew up in a Baptist church and often their services would last hours. So, when they introduced the minister I realized it was the same Baptist Reverend that my great-grandmother listened to in her early adult life. For a moment I did a facepalm and wondered how long service would take and if we’d still be in church as the sun was setting. To my surprise, I was in for a treat.

The Reverend titled his message “Time”.

timeAs my eyes locked to the front of the church and my ears listened intently there were two things from the sermon that stood out to me. First, he said “there is a time for everything, there is a time for every purpose” and as he continued he expounded on that statement by saying “you better do what you can, while you can”. It doesn’t seem like much, but as he kept ministering there was something that came to me. Often times we take the essence of time for granted. Upon church, I dug into the definition of time and this is what I came up with:

  • Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence
  • Time can be measured by seconds, minutes, hours and days
  • Time can be used to plan, arrange, and schedule things
  • Time can be measured when a person is completing an activity

Thinking about time in relation to our time here on earth can be daunting. I don’t want to think about the amount of time I have left on earth it seems morbid. However, my thoughts toward that changed when I watched Hope Springs Eternal on Netflix before bed. The synopsis of the movie is that there is a teenage girl who has terminal cancer who stopped living and was preparing to die until she received news that her cancer was in remission. She liked the idea of dying because of the attention and pity she received. However, it wasn’t until the end of the movie that she realized living is a privilege especially since one of her dear friends was dying of cancer.

Oddly enough, I wrote the previous excerpt in November following my great-grandmother’s birthday. I intended to publish this blog right after I wrote it, but in my mind, I had time there was no rush. It is now January 23, 2019, and I finally decided to publish this piece. Little did I know that I’d lose my grandfather on December 16, 2018, who was an avid reader and supporter of my blog. Shortly after his passing, I lost my great-grandmother on January 10, 2019, which was the woman who inspired this post.

After this experience, I realized time is truly precious. Don’t wait to share your gifts and talents with those you love. I’ve made excuses on why I don’t write and why I don’t use my gifts. Losing two prominent people in my life made me analyze their life and legacy. My grandfather lived out his purpose and did what he was called to do as did my great-grandmother. Now it is my time to walk in my purpose and my destiny. Will you?

The Journey of Rediscovery

Hello all! It has been quite a while since I’ve last written. I am getting back into the swing of things. Since the last time I’ve posted, I got a new job working at a local non-profit, my husband and I had our vow renewal, we redecorated our home, and indulged in some DIY projects inspired by a number of pins on my Pinterest. If you don’t have a Pinterest account you are missing out!

In addition, to all the fun and exciting things going on in my life, there have been a few minor set-backs. As many of you know I’ve dealt with anxiety and it’s severity has varied over the past several years. In recent months I’ve had a flare-up of symptoms. For a moment I found myself in a state of panic. I wasn’t sure why my symptoms came back with a vengeance. I started to wonder if the countless hours of therapy, medicine, meditation, and prayer had run its course. I was frantically looking for answers about why my anxiety was triggered and how I could make it better. Then one day I called a friend and asked if I could come over and talk to her. When I got there she saw the pain in my eyes and the fatigue reeling from my body. She grabbed me and sat with me as I cried and she prayed. Moments later she had a revelation, she suggested I do a 30 day fast from social media, web browsing, and blogging. It was quite the task for me to complete but I was open to trying anything.

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As I sit here writing this blog post I am pleased to say I completed the 30-day fast and it was quite eye-opening. I spent time reading, praying, enjoying the great outdoors, and practicing yoga. In the beginning, it was a challenging task to complete, and the only internet use I allowed myself was access to email for work purposes. During those 30 days, I realized how over-stimulated with technology I was. It was nice to take the time to be present and live in the moment. It also inspired me to do the things that I love and writing is one of them! With that said I am back, refreshed and ready to continue sharing with you.  I want to thank you for your continued support and I look forward to creating new content!

My Depiction of Anxiety

It is very rare that I am speechless, but in recent months I haven’t had much to say. When I created this site my mission was to write weekly. I wanted to share my story with the world while encouraging those who needed mental relief. However, I let life get in the way of what I was purposed to do. We all have gifts and some of us go a lifetime without using them. Up until today that was me, I was becoming stagnant and skeptic. I didn’t know what I wanted out of life and I wasn’t sure if I had the strength to step into my destiny. In previous posts that I’ve written, I emphasized the importance of fighting for what you want in life and withstanding resistance. It is about time I took my own advice, but before I can do that I want to express to you what almost hindered my will to live a purposeful life.

As some of you reading this may know, life for me in recent years has been marked by many challenges. One of my biggest challenges to date is living with generalized anxiety disorder. When I was first diagnosed two years ago, I didn’t think everything I was feeling could be associated with a mental illness. During the diagnosis process, I saw several specialists, some even made a mockery of my symptoms. This period of my life was filled with many frustrations, the only thing I wanted was to feel “normal” again. Fast forward to the present day, I’ve learned a lot about mental health and I want to bring awareness to others. That said I want to share with you my depiction of anxiety.

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For starters every morning I wake up I feel “normal”. I go through my morning routine without a hitch. Then suddenly my mind fills with panicked thoughts. I try to ignore them and recite my personal mantras, I am smart, I am an overcomer, I am bold, I am courageous and I am healthy, but those don’t suffice. Searching for a distraction I read my daily devotion, say my prayers and attempt to eat breakfast. After my routine is complete I mentally prepare myself to leave the house. The world can be a scary place outside of the four walls I call home, but life stops for no one. Once I get in my car my chest tightens, vision blurs and neck stiffens. I brace myself for my first panic attack of the day. Breathing deeply I try to look myself in the eyes in my rearview mirror and tell myself that I am “okay”. Pressed for time I buckle my seat belt, turn on some upbeat jams and brace myself for the traffic that lies ahead. Speaking of traffic it’s the worse. Once I arrive at my destination my heart begins to race and I feel the flutters. Not understanding what’s causing such feelings panic sets in. Trying to relax my mind I recite scriptures, say prayers, but the panic never ends. I continue throughout my day as positive as I can, after all, I don’t want to draw attention to myself. Once my day finally comes to an end I feel excited. I can return to my four walls away from the chaos and rest my eyes. At least when I sleep there is some sort of peace, because after a long day my mind has finally shut off. Even though I’ve shared my experience with anxiety, each day is different.  Most days there’s a hopelessness I feel and I wonder if I will ever get better. In moments of panic, I think back on the days when worrying wasn’t the only thing that consumed my mind. How I’d love to go back in time.

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I said all this to say, in reading this I’m sure there are skeptics and individuals that don’t understand the severity of mental illness. For those who can’t understand, some days I don’t either. It’s mind-boggling to look “normal” on the outside while you’re enduring a personal hell on the inside. While anxiety is the most challenging obstacle I’ve faced it has taught me patience. For those battling mental illness or any illness for that matter, keep pushing and practice patience. More importantly for those who are skeptical or lack understanding of mental illness, educate yourself. As I wrap up this post, I want to remind you to be kind to your neighbor for you never know what they are going through.

 

 

Withstanding Resistance

Imagine preparing for the biggest fight of your life.  After months of preparation and training, you are ready to complete the task. There is only one thing between you and victory: your opponent.  Optimistically approaching the ring you are determined to bring home a win when suddenly you glance at the competition. No time for panic the fight is about to commence, the announcer has taken his stance. Grabbing the microphone he rambles “let’s get ready to rumble”. Looking at your opponent you notice its giant-like stature than you realize this is the fight of your life!
boxing-555735_1920Doesn’t this scenario sound familiar? It reminds me of the biblical story of David and Goliath.  In 1 Samuel 17:50 it reads, “David triumphed over the Philistine (Goliath) with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him”. Furthermore in verse 51 “ David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword”.That is probably where the phrase “sticking a fork in it” was coined.

Moving on from that pun, my favorite thing about David was his ability to overcome adversity by literally facing a giant; his giant. David’s story mirrors everything I’m facing in my own life. After two years of battling anxiety, I am aware that mental illness is merely a giant I face every day. However, in recent months I realized my ability to overcome my giant is based solely on my mindset. Think about it, we are a product of the thoughts we allow to fill our minds.  I look at it like this, giants are roadblocks to progress and in order to successfully defeat them, we must learn to withstand resistance. 

In order to know how to withstand resistance, we have to know exactly what that is. Have you ever engaged in the game tug of war? If so, then you’d know how challenging itrope-3214773_1920 can be to come out victorious. To avoid losing the game you are constantly facing resistance. Every time you pull the other team tugs you back with an even greater force.  The whole purpose of the game is to prove one’s strength by pulling the opposing team past the central line marked on the ground. However, if the force pulling you is stronger than the power you are exerting, you will lose the battle every time. The same thing is true when we are facing our giants if we give in to the opposition of the obstacle we will never know how it feels to prevail against what’s preventing our success.

I’ve said all this to say, life as we know it is constantly throwing us curve balls. Nevertheless, we must continue to battle like its a fight and pull like its a vicious game of tug of war. You will ultimately be triumphant if you have the courage to face any form of resistance.  There will be tough days when you feel like you are in the trenches, just know better days always come.

 

 

 

re·viv·al

Where do I even begin?

I haven’t written in over a month letting my gifts lay dormant. In my current mental state, there is no sense of urgency, there is no drive or determination. I’m just living the day to day barely getting by.  I am simply a shell of the person I used to be. Two years ago family and friends would describe me as optimistic, gleeful, ambitious, witty, smiley, etc. However, things have changed.

For the past few months, I have been tasked with putting the pieces of my life back together, but I haven’t had the desire to. There was a point when I thought I conquered the worse of my anxiety, then out of nowhere, it hit me like a ton of bricks, depleting me of the energy I worked so hard to obtain.

My mind has become a jumbled mess. I just want a revival. I want to find the strength within myself to improve my current mental standing. Maybe that’s just it, I can’t do it alone. As I flip through my spiritual Rolodex I find myself glancing at Isaiah 40:30-31:

                              Even youth grow tired and weary,
                          and young men stumble and fall;
                              but those who hope in the Lord
                          will renew their strength.
                         They will soar on wings like eagles;
                          they will run and not grow weary,
                           they will walk and not faint.

According to scripture if I just put my trust in the Lord it will all work out. Call me a skeptic, but that is the hardest thing for me to do. My old self would undoubtedly trust God in all things, after all, He never steered me wrong. Right now having hope in the man upstairs doesn’t sound that convincing. I know what you’re thinking, how could someone like me that grew up in the church not easily find refuge in God.

Here is why, on the night of October 24, 2015, I had hope in God that my best friend survived a horrific car accident. I prayed that she would just pick up the phone for me one last time. Then my phone rang, perplexed I answered in a panic. The voice on the other side of the phone said my best friend and three others were identified as the four women who had been killed in an auto accident. My initial thought was, that can’t be right, I trusted God and He said if I put my trust in Him everything will work out. Not in this instance, He had other plans.

That’s the tricky part, trusting God through the trials. Its been two years since the accident and I still scramble my mind trying to find the answers. Then I go back to my Rolodex and remember Isaiah 55:8-9:

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

 

That is how revival occurs, by relinquishing our rights to know why life happens the way it does, doing that makes it much easier to live.

Today’s mantra: I will be revived when I exercise my ability to live life without worry.

Thoughts

Lying awake at night for hours on end, I find myself wondering when I will be able to sleep through the night again.  You see anxious thoughts have a way of keeping your mind awake through the night.  My mind wasn’t always a jumbled mess, but grief has a funny way of knocking the peace out of you. There were days when worrying was the last thing on my mind, but lately, it’s consumed my existence. I should know better, with my religious background the worries in my head should all melt away isn’t that what scripture says?

Philippians 4:6-7 reads: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Trust me that scripture replays in my head every time I’m plagued by an episode of anxiety. I try to remember that God loves me and won’t put more on me than I can bear, but sometimes it’s unbearable. At times my thoughts are more powerful than my faith. I try to focus on today and let tomorrow workout itself. After all the Bible illustrated it perfectly in Matthew 6:34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

If that be true why can’t my mind digest it? Why can’t I see past my pain?  At times I wonder if I will ever be the same? Two years ago I was living a beautifully orchestrated life with God at the forefront. I had not a worry in the world. Then an accident claimed the life of my best friend and three other friends.  Guilt-stricken, I didn’t understand why out of all the trips we’d taken I decided not to go on this one. Was it something that made my life more special then their’s that they can’t still be here? No! They were the epitome of all that life stood for. They put others before themselves, they saw the best in every living thing, it’s mind-boggling. Beware life can change in an instance.

One moment my life is perfect then next perfection is merely a facade.  Just when I thought I’d had enough pain at once, my aunt passed unexpectedly. Racking my brain for answers to life’s uncertainties only made my anxiety worse. At this point I know it can’t get any better, months later I got wind that my grandpa passed from medically-related complications.

At this point, that’s when numbness settled in. I tried to smile through the pain but couldn’t manage. I said all my prayers and recited scriptures, but the faith wasn’t there. Depression has a funny way of making you want to take a hiatus from existing.  I think that’s what did my colleague in.  Hearing the news of her untimely passing fueled my grief. I get it! Navigating through life with depression, anxiety, and PTSD is a daunting task.  It was at this point that I realized I needed help!

In January, I began trauma therapy combined with low dose medicine and yoga. It was with a clear head that I cried out to God letting go of my anger. For two years, my pain deterred me from my purpose. To be frank, God and religion was the last thing on my mind. I’d go to church, but I wouldn’t listen. Now I see what God is doing, He turned my pain into purpose.  So, today whatever has you mentally bound RELEASE it! It is okay to cry, but weeping endures for a night and joy comes in the morning. I’m not telling you what I heard, this is what I know.

Today’s Mantra: I will turn my pain into purpose!