Thursday, December 19, 2013

Blanket Cocoon

Tonight, I write to you from the comfort of my blanket cocoon, long after I should have been asleep. But sleep isn't likely to come tonight. See, today I proofread legal documents that will change my life forever. Tonight, I realized that I've exhausted all other options known to me. And yet I hate it. Yet I fight it. Yet I wonder why I'm not worth fighting for.

But even in the sleeplessness, there's a kind of peace. There is no turn to self injury.

Today, I realized some difficult things about my future. But today I also realized that I won't face it alone. And for that, I'm truly thankful.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Hey there, y'all!

First, if you're still with me after this long hiatus, thank you. Turns out being a full-time student, working three part-time jobs, and attempting to maintain a ministry is, well, dang near impossible. In fact, posting to this blog hadn't crossed my mind in awhile until a lovely follower sent me this picture:

And I am so glad she did! Yes, it has been quite some time since the official semicolon day. However, we need this reminder all the time. Semicolons indicate a place where a sentence could have ended, but the author chose to keep going. If you have ever even thought about suicide and chosen to go on, this symbol is for you.

Another follower has been privately messaging me about her desire to die. This is not an unusual thing for me to write back and forth with people about. However, I don't believe in coincidences, and receiving those messages along with this picture of a semicolon from a different follower....I think it's a sign that we all needed this reminder. So, my beautiful followers, hang in there.

If you need to talk, have questions, or just want to send me your awesome semicolon or other mental health related images, feel free to email me at I'd love to chat with you. And no, you never annoy me with your messages.

Friday, October 4, 2013


This is written on my phone, so please forgive typos/autocorrect errors.

I spoke to two classes of preservice teachers today about mental health issues. It was amazing. Not only were these amazing future teachers respectful and responsive, they asked great questions and even shared some of their own stories. These are the kind of people we need teaching our children.

One student shared that a friend had showed her cuts on her arm in middle school, and she didn't know what to do. She now regrets doing nothing. This is why we must talk about mental health issues. By staying silent, you might save yourself some embarrassment and uncomfortable conversations and situations, but you may also cost someone else their health or even their life. Talk about it. Make yourself open. Let your friends, family, students, co-workers, whoever you're around, know that you're willing to talk and listen.

Now, let me leave you with some signs that someone is struggling with mental health on some level. If you notice these things, tell an adult, have a private conversation with the person, do something!

Sudden personality/activity changes
Ceasing communication/withdrawing
Wearing long sleeves in warm weather
Giving away personal belongings
Saying goodbye rather than goodnight, see you later, or other forms of salutation
Refusal to make long term/future plans
Sleeping more than usual
Not eating with other people
Academics slipping

As always, comment, use the contact box on the right, or e-mail me at Love y'all!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Fair warning, this is a long post centered around my own struggles with relationships, but I think you'll still find something of worth, if you can make it to the end.

Let me start by admitting that today is a bad day. It's been a bad week, actually. On a scale of 1(no desire to self harm) to 10(gonna self harm right now), I've hovered around a 7 for the last few days, and am currently at about a 6. There are plenty of reasons I could give you for this escalation over what has become my typical rating of around 0-2. The one we're going to focus on today, though, is best described by my therapist (we'll call him Ned) as punishing myself for living in a house where I don't feel comfortable or safe and considering ending the relationship.

To combat this punishment, my therapist looked me square in the eyes and said, "Considering ending a relationship does not make you a bad person." I dropped my gaze. I didn't believe him. I'm still not sure I do. I argued that Matthew 5:21-30 (don't be impressed, I had to look up the reference) stated "that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (5:27), so even considering divorce is a sin.

So Ned asked me a question. "If a man is with his wife on the street and a pretty woman walks by, and he looks and thinks, 'Man, she's hot,' but stops himself from undressing her with his eyes, he's committing adultery?"

"No!" I was quick to reply. "He noticed her beauty, but he stopped himself from actually lusting after---" I cut myself off when I realized his point. Ned was asserting that there were different levels of thinking. That just thinking about divorce was not sinful the way noticing another woman's beauty was not sinful for a married man.

However, a married man undressing another woman with his eyes is sinful. And this is where the analogy falls apart for me: I'm not sure what the equivalent of undressing her with his eyes is for divorce. There is no intent on the man's part to actually physically cheat, only to fantasize. Yet, I don't think fantasizing about divorce is probably a realistic equivalent, on account of there's nothing lovely about it to fantasize about, at least from my perspective.

Still, I see Ned's point, at least in most cases. There are different levels of thinking about something, and thinking about sinning but choosing not to, is not a sin. So whatever you've been shaming yourself for that isn't a real sin - let it go. Please, if you haven't yet, don't let it lead you down a path of self-destructive shame, guilt, and perhaps self harm. And if you've already been down that path, know that there is redemption - there is always redemption.

There is always redemption. You are not beyond repair.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bringing Suicide into the Spotlight

I was intrigued to learn that Miss Kansas is an army combat medic. I was excited to learn that she was refusing to cover her tattoos for the beauty pageant. I was ecstatic to learn that she's a Kansas State University student. But I nearly lost my ability to act like a sane human being when I learned that she was openly discussing her battle with bullying and suicidal thoughts while growing up.

See, Miss Kansas has the opportunity to speak out about mental health, bullying, and other important issues to a national audience. She has the opportunity to demonstrate to all of us that you CAN recover, that you CAN succeed, that you CAN become a strong, healthy woman after battling such issues. I'm unable to watch the show, but I really hope that she is taking this amazing opportunity. And I hope that she wins so that she can continue to inspire those of us who struggle to fight to get better.

Who do you know who has battled mental illness or other social issues and become a better person for it? How can you become a better person for your struggles?

One lesson we can all learn from Miss Kansas, win or lose, is this: Do not change who you are to fit someone else's standards. Ever.

Read more about Miss Kansas here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

National Suicide Prevention Day

Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 10th, is National Suicide Prevention Day. Please, wear orange or yellow in support.

"But that won't make any difference," you say. "Why not actually DO something?"

If you want to do more, please do. But if you're a little shy or uncertain what to do, at least wear the colors. Why? Because those of us who are suicide survivors or who regularly consider suicide will know why you're wearing yellow or orange. We will know that you care, even if you're not sure how to express it. We will know that we're not fighting this battle alone. And that, my friend, can make all the difference.

Please also send me pictures of your yellow and orange gear, or "Love" written on your arms, of any of the ways in which you "celebrate" National Suicide Prevention Day. I'd like to feature some of your ideas on this blog. Just email them to me at

Love y'all!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Insecurity Can Kiss My....

Have you ever had one of those days where you're just anxious and insecure about everything? You're afraid to text your friends because you might be bothering them. You think that special guy/gal in your life is going to realize that you're not so special after all. You believe your parents are disappointed in you. You feel fat, dumb, clumsy, and generally inept.

I have. In fact, I'm having one of those days right now. And frankly, I'm struggling to kick insecurity's annoying little ass and get back to being awesome. So, I've come up with some thoughts for all of us struggling with insecurity. Here's hoping it helps you and me both!

I think the best way to kick insecurity's ass is to just prove to it that it has no hold. Text/call/IM/Facebook message someone. Anyone. In fact, message lots of people. When even one person responds for a second, that's evidence that you have friends, that you are worthy of response, that you matter.

Or maybe do something for somebody else. I mean, think about it, if you're insecure, there's somebody else who's insecure, too. So if you go do something nice for them, you'll help them kick their insecurity's ass, too!

Cuddle stuffed animals, live animals, or whichever friend lives closest. Cuddling actually has healing properties for depression, anxiety, etc. So do it.

Dance, run, do sit ups, anything that will get your heart rate up a bit. Endorphins are released when you exercise!

Read or watch something funny. Laughter actually is medicine.

Eat your favorite food (but in moderation of you're already feeling fat, cuz you don't want to make that feeling worse).

Okay, I'm off to try a few of these. Remember, if the anxiety, depression, or whatever gets to where you can't stand it, go to the emergency room or call 911. DO NOT let yourself turn to self harm of any kind.

Love you all.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When Following God Hurts

Recently, doing what I know God wants me to do has caused me pain - literal and metaphorical. And while it's true that those of us trying to live out and spread the Gospel will suffer and that suffering will ultimately serve a holy purpose (Romans 5:3, Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 1:5-7, Philippians 1:29, Philippians 3:10, and so many more), that is of little comfort to those of us suffering.

First, let's be honest about how we view suffering. Most of us, when we hear that we will "suffer for the Gospel," imagine being thrown in prison for smuggling Bibles or killed for sharing our faith with others. We don't imagine verbal and physical abuse. We don't imagine that the cause might not be plain and simple evangelism, but simply obeying a call God has given. But this is also suffering for the Gospel.

Second, we tend to believe that suffering is holy when it happens to others; when it happens to us, it just sucks and we want it to end. However, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes, suffering sucks, no matter who's experiencing it. But suffering, if for the good of the Gospel, also has a holy purpose that we're not likely to understand on this earth.

Third, and this is important, even if you can't see the silver lining in your situation, always remember what my pastor says: "God is good and the story ends well." Did you catch that? God is GOOD and the story ends WELL. No matter what's happening to you right now, if you believe, you will have a joyful, pain-free eternity in heaven.

Fourth, cope in whatever healthy way you need to. Need to run off extra stress? Do it. Need to make hundreds of cupcakes for no reason? Go for it! (And send me some, if you don't mind.) Need to clean the house? Mine's available. Need to snuggle a baby animal or child? Just make sure they're either yours or you have permission to do so.

Fifth and finally, do not let your desire to follow God's will paralyze you. Draw a line - one that will save your life - in abusive situations, and have friends help you stick to it. I've known several people who endured abusive relationships and wound up bringing their significant other to Christ. However, I've also known some who tried and had to get out when their own physical, mental, and spiritual well-being became threatened beyond their ability to cope. Get out alive. Please.

If you need to talk about what you're going through, don't hesitate to comment or email me at

Love y'all!

Friday, August 16, 2013


Wow - so it's been awhile. Sorry, y'all! The good news is, I have been thinking about y'all!

Mostly, I've been wishing that y'all could be in the happy, healthy, healing place I find myself in lately. In spite of the turmoil of a grandparent having a stroke (and recovering nicely), a friend's unexpected death, a grandparent's death, beginning the process of splitting from an abusive spouse, and a huge maintenance bill for my car (I hate when it's time to replace tires), I'm doing well. I'm happy, I'm hyper, I'm more me than I've been in nearly nine years. At one point, I became afraid that I'd alienate some of my old friends because, well, hyper people often annoy me. However, my dear friend Sam simply replied by saying "I'd take you healthy and hyper any day."

So, since I've been experiencing a great, happy, healthy time, I've been praying that y'all would get to this place, too. I am happy to talk to you about steps to get here, or about anything that's on your mind. Really, anything. One thing I want to share with you, regardless of where you're at, is a song. The video is a touch eccentric, but really listen to the lyrics, because I think you're beautiful.

Alright, now, some practical things that have helped me get and stay in this happy place:

1. Regular time with God. It helped when a friend told me that he dedicates the entirety of Sunday to the Lord (in addition to time throughout the week, of course).
2. Hugs. I heard somewhere once that the average person needs eight positive touches a day just to survive. Get them, if at all possible.
3. Crying. Sometimes, I get so focused on being happy that I forget that allowing myself to feel and express emotion is also healthy and necessary to being joyful/happy. Let yourself feel, just don't dwell in the bad feelings. Feel them, express them, and move on.
4. Letting go of what's bad for me. For me, this means reducing my drinking, taking steps to escape an abusive relationship that doesn't appear to be getting any better, and trying my darndest not to worry.
5. Intentionally seeking out community. In other words, instead of caving into my introvert tendencies, I force myself to go out and associate with people. It's hard. It doesn't always work out so well. But when it does, it's incredible!
6. Helping others. There's nothing like an impromptu diaper drive for a homeless shelter to make you more grateful for what you have.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Hardest Words

You'd think the hardest words would be "goodbye" or "I'm sorry" or something like that. But they're not. They're much simpler, even. "I need" is a phrase that rarely comes out of my mouth in reference to anything more than a grocery list. My grandmother passed away this week, and in helping with the funeral plans and trying to ease the burden on my parents, I've noticed something: we all seem to have an easier time volunteering to help than we do admitting when we need someone or something. This is something that my mom, dad, brother, and I all share in common, and it's one of the few unhealthy things we share.

I don't know if this is useful or not, it's just one of the thoughts currently pinging around in my grief-clouded mind, but I fully believe someone needs to hear this: it's okay to say "I need you." It's okay to ask someone to help you out with something. It's okay to ask someone for a hug. It's okay to ask for some alone time to just rest. It's okay to ask someone to come over, or ask someone not to show up. It's okay to ask for whatever you need to protect your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

One caveat - do try to ask in a way that is not damaging to that person's health, either. It does no ultimate good to inflict damage on someone else in order to save yourself.

Bottom Line: Stand up for yourself. Ask for what you need.

Monday, August 5, 2013

When it Pours

I'll be honest, I'm writing this blog post hoping that I'll write myself into something useful. Hope you'll join me for the ride.

Have you ever had one of those times in your life when everything just seems to happen at once and you just can't deal? Like, you're still trying to process the fact that you were raped, a friend died just a week and a half ago, you were verbally abused in public just a couple days ago, and now you find out your grandma is dying? I mean, hypothetically, of course.

And here's the thing - this collection of horrible events never happens when you have nothing to do and you can actually afford to lay on the couch watching Supernatural while downing pints of ice cream (again, totally hypothetical) like you're doing. No, it happens when your enormous paper is due in less than two weeks, the apartment needs cleaned so badly that child services would not let a child live there, your car needs its oil changed (desperately, like, should have happened months ago), and you really need to prep for school starting in like two weeks.

Let's just stop pretending this is hypothetical. This is my life right now. And it's hard. And it sucks. And I'm more triggered now than I've been in quite some time. And all I want to do is curl up under one of my quilts and alternate between sleeping and watching Supernatural (my favorite show, in case you hadn't picked up on that yet). Instead, I came here to write to y'all, and to me. So, here's my list of ways in which I plan to attempt to cope while it continues to pour like crazy in my world. Please feel free to email or comment to add more suggestions.

1. Watching my favorite things or listening to my favorite music while continuing to do the things that need to be done. This allows comfort without wallowing.

2. Spill it all to a trusted friend. And I do mean all. The anger, the frustration, the pain, the confusion, the denial, everything.

3. Let the little things go. There's plenty of big stuff on my plate, no need to get upset at a rude server or something stupid like that.

4. Continue to work on what needs to get done, but also allow myself regular breaks to do whatever else I want.

5. Workout. Seriously, it helps.

6. Ice cream. Enough said.

7. Continuous prayer. God can handle my constant swings from thankfulness to anger to sobbing. Not many people can, so I figure I might as well unload it on Him instead.

Friday, August 2, 2013


No, that's not a typo. It stands for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. I discovered GISHWHES when I joined twitter (@ConfidentVessel) and started following Misha Collins, who is a super cool human being. At first, I was skeptical, since you have to pay to enter and many of the challenges look completely ridiculous. However, then I kept digging.

First, GISHWHES benefits Random Acts. Second, many of the scavenger hunt items are acts of kindness, such as coats for the homeless, hugging a veteran, putting on a puppet show for hospitalized children, etc. Third, I realized that even the ridiculous items are important, for reasons detailed below.

Alright, how could doing yoga in ski gear or making a kilt of cucumber be important? Let me tell you. (I'll be focusing on the benefits of GISHWHES for those of us who struggle with mental illness, though these apply otherwise as well.)

1. Doing such ridiculous things requires that you cease judging yourself briefly.
2. Laughter is nearly guaranteed, and we all know that laughter is good for you!
3. You're encouraged to meet new people, but in a lighthearted, minimally threatening setting.
4. Taking chances is rewarded, even if things don't go perfectly.
5. Getting to know Misha Collins through the things he makes you do. And trust me, that's good for everybody's mental health.

So, I hope that, if you can afford to, you'll join me in the GISHWHES this year. If you can't afford to, stay tuned, because I'm sure I'll be posting requests for your help with some items! And, even if you don't participate, I will be encouraging you to do fun random things that week as well.

Here's to our health!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

On Overreacting

Sorry for the hiatus, y'all. I had some Internet access issues. Turns out they had accidentally unhooked our cable instead of someone else's. It was an accident, but I had been so frustrated and almost angry with the company.

This may seem like a trivial thing, but it got me thinking: how many times have my emotions run out of control over something incredibly stupid? How many times has it been due to my mental health issues? How many times have I blamed my mental health issues when it's really just something everyone struggles with?

Let me be clear: those of us who deal with mental illness DO perceive, experience, and react to some situations differently than "neurotypicals" do. However, we can learn to react in appropriate ways, where necessary (not every "different" reaction needs to be "normalized"). In fact, learning to step back and evaluate the cable situation allowed me to treat the technician with respect, where I would have otherwise bitten his head off.

When you find yourself feeling emotional, I encourage you to take a step back, breathe deeply (but don't hyperventilate) and really assess the kind of response the situation REQUIRES, not the one you feel.

Monday, July 29, 2013

I Need an Instruction Booklet

In talking with a dear friend about some of our similar experiences, she exclaimed that it sure would be nice if life had an instruction booklet! I wholeheartedly agreed, and then it occurred to me...we do have instruction booklets. Wait, hear me out.

Yes, of course we have the Bible, but let's be honest, it doesn't exactly offer clean-cut instructions for all situations. In fact, it doesn't even address many of our situations. However, if we're willing to open up and share our stories, we'll find that the people around us often have words of wisdom and experience that would be helpful.

Let's be clear - we can help, we can share our experiences, but what worked for us won't necessarily work for others. The only way to find an answer for yourself is to pray through it. But the experiences of others can be helpful. For instance, I can't tell you what will finally make you stop cutting, but I can share with you all the things I've ever tried to ease the urges. Maybe, in that list, you'll find something helpful.

Now, for a wonderful example, check out this site, featuring the story of my dear friend, Lika. There is so much here for you to draw inspiration from - changing faiths, family opposition, identity crises, etc. Although his story is a difficult one for him to share, since he still lacks familial support, he knows that his story is one that God is calling him to tell, because others can benefit from it, even if it's just because they'll know they're not alone.

Go leave Lika some comments, leave me some comments, and/or click here to email me a We'd both love to hear from you!

Friday, July 26, 2013


Today, my friend was found dead. Though this is an undeniably difficult time for all of his family and friends, we know that he's in heaven, waiting for us. If you're struggling with pain or loss, I encourage you to listen to this song, and really hear the lyrics. This is my message to you, as well as God's.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Darkness Presses In

Tonight, I fight my depression, as my friend, Chad Rogers, remains missing. You'll probably be as shocked as I am to know that I have not yet slipped into depression. People keep asking how I am, and I keep telling them that I'm really doing okay, that I have faith that Chad will be found, alive, that I just need a hug now and then.

How do I remain hopeful and even joyful in this time? 2 Corinthians 4:7-9: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show us that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." That treasure is the knowledge of salvation/the Gospel, and the jars of clay are those of us who have that knowledge. Chad is such a jar of clay. So, while he and his wife and parents and all of us who love him are currently afflicted, we are not crushed.

So long as there is a God, so long as there is salvation, there is hope. God knows and loves Chad, so we can trust that, wherever Chad is, God is taking care of him. Chad is saved, and so, while there are potential painful endings to this search, there are no truly tragic ones in the long term, because all of us who love both Chad and the Lord will be reunited with Chad, in this life (I desperately pray) and in the next life.

Now that I've tried, so clumsily, to say all of this, let me just add what one of Chad's many friends posted on Twitter today, so much more eloquently than I ever could:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I confess to being a bit distracted tonight. One of my old friends went running last night and never came home. So, take a moment to pray that he is safely returned to his wife and baby, please.

Now that we've all said our prayers, there is nothing more we can do for him, so I'm going to focus on you. See, I know that my buddy was saved, healthy, and if, God forbid, he doesn't come home, I know where he's going. I don't know that about all of you, though, so, here goes.

If you believe none of what follows, at least believe that I love you, because I do. I've been given a passion and burden for each and every one of you.

When I initially started this blog, I decided to be careful not to mention faith too much, because I didn't want to scare people away. Tonight, in the face of enormous life decisions, a missing friend, two relatives with health issues, and a greater awareness of the pain of this world than ever before, I say be offended if you want. Send me angry emails or leave me angry comments. But I will not allow myself to wonder if my followers knew where I stood anymore.

Here's the truth that I know so many of you need to know:

You are beautiful. (Psalm 139:14)
You are loved. (1 John 3:1)
You are not beyond repair. (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3)
You can be forgiven. (1 John 1:9)
This life is only temporary - make sure you're ready for the next one. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

If you'd like to talk about any of these things, chat with your pastor, youth pastor, or click here to send me an email. I'd love to hear from you.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Perfectly Broken

There's a new title! My purpose is not changing, just the title and, hopefully, you'll see a stronger outpouring of my passion here.

Last week, I served as a camp counselor for a high school camp. I was very excited for the week, but, let's be honest, I was mostly excited because I would get a week of being away from home and around people I love. Things had been getting rougher at home, with more panic attacks and urges to injure myself, so I desperately wanted to be anywhere but there.

Saturday, I headed home, since camp training started on Sunday. By the time I got home, I realized that I'd forgiven myself. Still, a part of me wondered if God had actually forgiven me. So, when camp began, I was feeling forgiven, but skeptical, and far from important or worth anything.

Then, I gave my testimony on Monday morning. It was the first time I'd spoken publicly about attempting suicide. It was hard. And honestly, I walked away from that experience feeling better for saying it, but also feeling as though it was stupid to have done it, that nobody would be impacted. I also lead a workshop that focused on being "perfectly broken," emphasizing that God uses our broken places to minister to others. Still, I was not sure that I was actually being used, that my broken places were useful.

As the week went on, more and more campers came to me with their stories of brokenness, of self-injuring, of starving themselves, of feeling ugly, of attempting suicide, of being raped, of horrors I can't even begin to imagine. I prayed with them, hugged them, cried with them, shared the source of my hope, gave them Bibles, encouraged them to find help in their home communities, and did my best to offer them hope. When I had no words, words came anyway. Fellow counselors began commenting that I seemed different, more hopeful and happier, than I had last year. Forgiveness finally made sense to me. I finally realized that I was forgiven. For real.

It breaks my heart to know that so many of our youth are going through things similar to what I've been through and then some. It breaks my heart to know that most of them feel as though they have nowhere to turn and that there is no hope. However, this week has also lead me to find a new depth of passion for high school and college students, in particular, and for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, self injury, eating disorders, suicide, rape, etc. So please, if you have nowhere else to turn right now, email me or leave a comment below, because I love you and I want to show you why.

I'll leave you with the words one of my campers and I whispered back and forth from inside an intense hug once we discovered that we'd both attempted suicide in March: "I love you, and I am so glad you are here. You were meant to be here."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Friday Breakdown

So, I wrote this super awesome post on Friday, but then failed to post it, sorry! So, when it says "today," it means this past Friday.

Today is rough. Today, I'm more triggered than I've been in a long time. Today, therapy went 20 minutes late just to move me from a 10 to a 6 on the "How likely are you to hurt yourself?" scale. My therapist called three times during the day just to make sure I was still okay. I spent an hour and fifteen minutes on the phone with my sponsor (former drug addict helping counsel me through my self-injury addiction) to move myself back down to a 3. I didn't eat all day. I simply couldn't function.

In the midst of all this, I heard the song "Even If" by Kutless. The chorus goes like this:

Even if the healing doesn't come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God, You are good
Forever Faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn't come

It occurred to me that, no matter what I'm feeling, God was still God; He's still in charge; He still cares. Nothing I feel or do or experience can change who God is and who I am to Him. He still loves me. Sometimes, we have to trust in what we KNOW rather than what we FEEL.

I'm not good at this yet. I still need to call my sponsor and hear him tell me that God loves me and has good planned for me. But I'm getting there. And it's an amazing thing to experience. Give it a shot. If you don't know this faith thing, please, send me an email at

PS - I'm counseling at a high school church camp this week, so forgive me if I'm slow to respond or don't post as much as I should. Love y'all!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

This One Thing

On Sunday, I went to church, and I was, to be frank, not in the mood to be there. However, I've discovered that those are the mornings I need church the most. On this particular day, worship started with the song "One Thing Remains" by Jesus Culture. It goes like this:

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing… Remains [repeat]

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me [3x]

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death, In life, I’m confident and
covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can
separate my heart from Your great love...

I'll confess that I was distracted by those lyrics for most of the rest of the service. No matter what happens. No matter what is done to me or what choices I make, God will not give up on me; God will not stop loving me. The same is true for you, if you put your hope and faith in him.

Most of us who struggle with depression, self-injury, eating disorders, anxiety, and suicide are really only seeking love. The problem is, we're seeking it from people here on earth. And while I fully believe that everyone deserves to be loved by someone here, I also know that earthly love often ends in heartache. The great news is that, if you believe, you do have one constant in your life: God's love.

Let me know what you think, what questions you have, or what helps you cope with this life. Leave your thoughts in the comments or click here to email me at

Monday, July 1, 2013

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Hi. My name is Nina, and I love babies. Whew! Feels good to get that off my chest.

But seriously. I do love babies. They're excited about the world. They're constantly learning and growing and changing. And, best of all, they don't expect you to hold a conversation. Babies are also a reminder to me that life goes on, and that I can be new, too.

Tonight, God used a baby to remind me of a powerful truth. I was sitting at our house church, holding one of the many babies. She grabbed at my bracelet, and I looked down to see her beautiful, soft, unblemished arm laying along my forearm, which is riddled with scars. I tried to pull my arm away, self conscious about her and other church members seeing the scars, but she grabbed my finger. 

I realized, then, that she doesn't care about my scars, she only cares that I hold and love and play with her. It was a poignant reminder not only that the past is the past, but that the scars that define me are not my own. My defining scars belong to a man who was nailed to a cross some 2000 years ago. He took my sins, my shame, my shortcomings, and endured my deserved punishment so that I could experience grace, forgiveness, love, and eternal life. Pretty amazing.

Don't get me wrong, the existence of this blog is proof that my scars are an important part of me. They are an important part of my faith. They are the reason I have a ministry at all. But they are not the essence of who I am. As a reminder, I am, and you are or can be, "forgiven, beloved, hidden in Christ, made in the image of the Giver of Life, righteous and holy, reborn and remade, accepted and worthy, this is our new name" (Jason Gray, "I Am New"). 

Feel free to leave comments or click here to email me at I'd love to talk more with you about faith, self injury, suicide, relationships, whatever you're dealing with. Love y'all!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

"People will never satisfy your deepest longings."

Most of us would instinctively agree with this statement, but only because we know we should agree with it. However, the truth of the human condition is that we tend to seek satisfaction from other human beings. As my pastor puts it, "we're like a bunch of ticks trying to feed off each other when what we actually need is a host who can meet our needs." 

There is no person, not even a group of people, who can meet your every need in this life. Neither can you meet all of your own needs. The only way I know to get my needs met is through my faith, not that I've got it down pat, either. See, in order to get your needs met, by anyone, you have to trust. It's hard enough to trust people, who you can harass and badger into compliance (although it's clearly not recommended). It's even harder to trust a God who you can't see. Still, if you can trust, even just a little, you'll find that, ultimately, your needs will be met. After all, as Jesus says in John 6:35, "'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'" 

How do you do that, though? 

I can only share what has worked for me. I am certainly no expert in trust, but I am working on it. Remember - faith is like fitness in that you can always get better!

Tip #1 - Learn to wait. God doesn't work on your timetable, but neither do other people, so this shouldn't be a shock. When I think I can't take it anymore, I tell myself to just make it through one more week, day, hour, minute, whatever the situation calls for. Try not to get so impatient that you begin grumbling and stop looking for the good.

Tip #2 - Learn to take action. I know, this seems like a contradiction. I've seen far too many people, myself included, who are waiting on the Lord's guidance and refuse to make any decisions in the meantime. For example, if you're waiting on guidance in a relationship, that does not mean that you shouldn't be exploring job options, ministry options, etc. In fact, sometimes guidance for situation A may come through situation B. 

Tip #3 - Stay in touch with God. So many times I've gotten frustrated with waiting for guidance and I've stopped praying or spending time in the Bible. HUGE mistake. How can you get guidance from someone you're not speaking to? So yeah, this shouldn't need to be a tip, but I'm guessing some of you do stupid things like this sometimes, too.

Tip #4 - Consult trusted, faithful people. God can and does speak through Godly people. This is not to say that you should do everything the people you trust tell you to do. Always test their advice against scripture and your own conversations with God. But also don't overlook those people as mouthpieces of God's wisdom.

Hope this is helpful. Leave me some feedback or questions in the comments or click here to email me a Love y'all!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blind Trust

I babysat for a friend the other day. The baby, we'll call her Abby, is two months old, and she is adorable. Once Mama left, little Abby sat happily on my lap. I read my daily devotion on true beauty to her and changed her diaper with no fuss. Only when she began fighting sleep did she get fussy, and even that was easily remedied by simply walking around the house with her until she fell asleep.

I marveled at her complete trust in me, a virtual stranger who had no kids and precious little experience with them. I marveled even more at at her mother's trust in me - she left the house with no further instructions than "the diapers are there and there's a bottle in the fridge," and she knew I lacked any qualifications. These were two people who trusted me completely with absolutely no reason to do so. Abby trusted me to meet her needs in the absence of her mother, and her mother trusted me to, well, keep Abby alive until she got home.

Abby and her mother painted a very clear picture for me of Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."

I can't speak for you, but when I trust someone, it's usually more the "Of course I trust you, I just have to do this one little thing to make it easier for you!" brand of trust. You know the kind, where you don't really trust the person, but you need their help? Yeah. Full on, complete, blind trust is hard for me. But, I think we all need at least two relationships like that in our lives. Hear me out.

First, let's start with the one I know applies to all of my readers, regardless of faith: a friend or family member you can trust completely. This is not only a person you can open up to, but someone you could leave alone to care for your pets, kids, siblings, whatever, and feel completely confident that things would go well. You wouldn't need to call and check up on them periodically, you'd just know everything was fine. Do you have a friend like that? I do. She lives a long ways away now (boo!!), but I'd trust her with my life. It's an awesome thing. Seek this out, if you can, but don't jeopardize your mental safety to do so. I will say, though, that having this kind of friend when you have mental health issues is a Godsend. I frequently call on this friend to help me communicate my thoughts to people, to make me take breaks to talk to her when I'm overly stressed, etc.

Next, the most important one that I pray will someday apply to all of my readers, even if it doesn't currently: God. When I "trust" God, it's often the same way I "trust" people - only as far as I'm forced to by the circumstances, if that. However, my relationship with God should look more like my relationship with my best friend. I should be able to just leave things in his hands to deal with and know that it'll get taken care of in the best way possible. The problem is that I think I know best, even in those situations where I'm not sure which way is up. It's a daily struggle for me to trust as I should. So, I'm not saying I have it down pat, I'm just saying you should give it a try. Tell Him all about the situation; vent, rant, tell Him what you want to happen, tell Him what you don't want to happen, talk your heart out, and then leave it there. Don't worry about it the rest of the day. Or the rest of the hour. Whatever you need to do to babystep yourself to trust.

Let me know how that experiment goes! As always, I love to hear from you so leave me comments or shoot me an email at

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Strength Training

I realized something during my Bible time today: I haven't had the urge to self-injure or commit suicide for a while now. (Brief pause for a pat on the back.) However, I also know that now is the time to strengthen myself, because those temptations will likely return. Primarily, I've been digging into my faith, but also spending time with my friends and their babies and crafting.

So, whether you're experiencing a period of relief from temptation, as I am, or you're struggling with an eating disorder, self-injury, suicide, anxiety, you name it, try these ideas to strengthen yourself against those thoughts in the future. (Family and friends, these tips could be useful for you, too, as you try to help your loved one.)

  1. Dig into your faith. This means finding community with others who share your beliefs, reading the scriptures, praying, etc. You'll find that most faiths have something to offer for your struggle, but, frankly, I find my Christian faith the most helpful (and I explored quite a lot). Let me know if you have questions about that - I'm happy to chat with you!
  2. Share your triggers (anything that makes your struggle more difficult) with a few close friends who can help you avoid those triggers and deal with them when they happen.
  3. Make a plan for dealing with tough situations. This means making a list of people and organizations you can contact if you're feeling tempted to do something you know you shouldn't. It also means making and constantly updating a list of activities that are helpful for you when you're tempted. For me, that list includes running, painting, cleaning, writing, and simply changing locations.
  4. Make a playlist of music that makes you happy and/or reminds you of the good things in life. That way, you at least have a chance to easily play music that won't make things worse.
  5. Use the times when you are strong to evaluate your life for things that make your struggles unnecessarily harder. Now, be careful with this. I am not telling you to quit school because it stresses you out. I am, however, telling you to stop doing all of your homework on one day a week. I am also not telling you to cut out everyone who makes you mad. I am, however, telling you to draw firm boundaries for those people who frequently add drama or stress to your life. Drawing boundaries is hard, and should never be done when you're emotional (that only leads to drawing boundaries you later regret).
  6. Most of all, use the good times to hang out with friends. I know full well that, when you're depressed, anxious, or trying to starve yourself, you tend to isolate yourself as well. So spend time with friends. Make sure they understand that you do care for them, and let them know what issues you're dealing with so that they can help you, or at least understand why you might not always come around.

Got any tips to share? Leave them in the comments or click here to shoot me an email at

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When it isn't all sunshine and lollipops

I've been praying, lately, for sustained hope. See, I've been doing great lately, but I fear that I'll forget or lose that hope. Let's be honest, we all have ups and downs, or "seasons" as my friend calls them (which inexplicably annoys me). It is to be expected that there will be times when we struggle to see hope in this life and times when hope is so abundant that we don't understand how others don't see it.

The question, then, becomes how to deal with those down times. (The up times seem to be easier, but if you want me to address that, let me know.) I'm no expert. I mean, I've had plenty of down times. Some have been dealt with better than others, to say the least, but here are some things I try to keep in mind that have worked in the past:
  1. There will be better days. Now, I know you've heard this before. It became real to me for two reasons
    1. I saw it happen many, many times.
    2. I read Psalm 27, which ends like this:
      I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord   in the land of the living. 
      Wait for the Lord;    be strong and take heart    and wait for the Lord.Note the bolded sections (my emphasis). We don't have to wait for death or, for some of us, hasten it in order to get to the good part. The good part starts here. So take a deep breath and try to wait it out with patience.
  2. There is nothing exceptionally bad about you. When I'm in a faith/life/mood slump, I often believe the worst about myself, but it's not true - of me or you! Try to acknowledge the truth. For instance, I am overweight, but I am not the most disgusting person on earth. I am not the smartest person I know, but neither am I stupid. You get the idea.
  3. Good things still happen, even in the darkest of times. Make a list of things that happen each day that were good or that you can be thankful for. During hospitalization of a family member, for instance, you might be thankful for a sweet nurse, a reliable car, or simply that it's not as bad as that family clearly receiving bad news down the hall. 

What helps you get through? Leave it in the comments or click here to email me at
Are you having trouble right now? Write to me and tell me what topics or questions you need me to address!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

We Have this Hope

Yesterday, I decided to read in the book of Matthew, for a change of pace. Remember that hope I said I was looking for? I found it!

I read chapter one, which, honestly, I have often skipped in the past because it's the genealogy of Jesus and, well, if you know your Bible you know how Jesus came to be. Or do you? See, I had decided to study the scripture, to really dig in and ask questions, like I would of any other piece of literature. (Of course, the Bible is much more than a piece of literature, this is just a study technique.) It occurred to me that, while the people of the time would have been accustomed to hearing the men's names in the genealogy, and probably didn't even give a second thought to who they were beyond identifying where their own lineage factored in, the mention of five women would have been highly unusual. The people would have paused there to remember the story of that woman's life. Let's take a quick look at these women:

Tamar - pretended to be a prostitute so that her father-in-law would get her pregnant, since her husband was dead and her father-in-law refused to marry her to his next son, as was the custom.
Rahab - prostitute who helped Joshua defeat Jericho by sheltering his men during their recon mission.
Ruth - entered the threshing floor (scandalous at the time!) to seek marriage to Boaz
Wife of Uriah (Bathsheba) - King David committed adultery with her and subsequently had her husband killed. In my opinion, she is referred to by her husband's name because her presence in the genealogy is more to point out David's transgression than to shine a light on her.
Mary - found to be pregnant before marriage, thus bringing shame on herself, her family, and her betrothed (Joseph).

I found that I had an inordinate amount of hope after reading and researching this genealogy. You see, none of these women (or the men, for that matter) were perfect. Many of them had HUGE character flaws, enormous sin issues, and enough personal problems to last a lifetime. Yet God used them to bring about his plan. God blessed them. In many cases, God used their weaknesses, their flaws, their sins, for good. Their weaknesses became the reason they were able to be included in the genealogy of Jesus and, for some, the reason they were able to minister.

Now, I have this hope (well, I've had it for awhile, but now it's stronger) that God will use me out of all of this mess that is my life. It's a vague hope, in that I'm not 100% certain how he will use me yet, but, as my therapist says, "Vague hope is better than clear guilt." Amen!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Honesty Hour

Tonight, I went to Bible study for the first time in awhile, thanks to a crazy summer travel schedule. We were discussing the need to read the Bible on a regular basis. Then, our leader pointed out that, according to Romans 15:4, "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." See, spending time reading Scripture is supposed to inspire hope.

This got me thinking. Reading the scriptures lately only inspires a bleak hopelessness because I see the restrictions, and no promise of happiness or pleasure in this lifetime. Moreover, when I have spoken to church leaders about this, I'm simply told that I am not promised that this life will be anything positive, but that I will find happiness, pleasure, health, etc in the next life. I am simply expected to endure, cheerfully, what I am going through.

Here's the thing: I would love to be able to cheerfully endure. However, I do not find an outlook that only makes me wish to die healthy. That is not the intention of the Christians who tell me that this life will suck, but the next one will be good, but that is what those of us who struggle with depression and suicide hear. I also do not believe that God sent us here only to suffer. There will be suffering, absolutely, but that is not meant to be our entire life.

So, this is my confession: I do not currently enjoy spending time in the Word. However, I am attempting to intentionally spend more time reading and meditating over it. Eventually, I hope that the hope will return. In the meantime, I'm praying for hope for myself and for all of you.

Please leave a comment below or shoot me an email at
Love y'all!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


This Father's Day, I want to take a moment to acknowledge that I was raised by an incredible, Godly man. When it came to me, he was always slow to anger, a constant source of support, but also willing to let me be independent. Dad gave me my first cup of coffee, my first pig, my first horse, my first book, and my first Bible. He is truly an inspiration to me, and I love him more than any other man in this world. I often say that I have such high standards for my husband because my dad was so great.

Still, even with all of these wonderful qualities, my dad does not understand the marital, emotional, and psychological issues I currently face. It is not his fault; he has simply not experienced what I am experiencing. This has been a hard pill for me to swallow. Dad does not pretend I'm not suffering because he wants to be mean, but because he simply doesn't know how to help me not to suffer.

This Father's Day, consider the positives about your father, and cut him some slack for those weak spots. Remember, we all have weaknesses; your dad included.

Happy Father's Day, y'all!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stop Pretending

Wow - consistent blog posting is difficult in the summer! Sorry, y'all! Please know that, even if I don't post every day, you can always leave a comment on one of my posts or click here to shoot me an email.

Tonight, I write to you having just recovered from a panic attack. During the attack, I rocked back and forth and tried to breathe deeply. I asked a couple of friends for ideas on how to stop the attack, in the short bursts during which I could type. But I didn't tell my husband, and he didn't notice. Instead, I tried to pretend things were okay.

The source of the panic attack is also pretending things were okay. I processed an event with my therapist today which I had previously not confronted, in part because I thought it wasn't a big deal. As a result, I'm now trying to face it head on long after the fact, which is not easy.

I imagine lots of you pretend things are okay, too. When your mom or dad or close friend asks how you're doing, you don't mention the fact that you've been suicidal, haven't eaten in days, or just recovered from a panic attack. Now, I'm not saying you should complain all the time or even tell them every bad thing that happens. However, I'm discovering that there's merit to being open about your struggles. Somehow, it helps to remove their power over you. You no longer have to struggle in secret.

So I challenge you to stop pretending it's okay, stop pasting a fake smile on your face, with just one person. Make it someone you really trust, and make sure they know you aren't asking them to solve your problems; you're just looking for someone to confide in.

Leave me a comment or send me an email to to let me know how opening up goes!

Friday, June 7, 2013


I'm writing to you from a women's retreat tonight. As y'all know, I'm currently evaluating my faith. What is it that I actually believe as opposed to what I want to believe? What false beliefs do I hold that cause me to beat myself up using my religion? What is hindering my faith?

Today, I've gained some insight. Our speaker asked us to identify what things make us unfit, in the world's eyes, to be a vessel of God. For me, the list included my depression, suicide attempt, cutting, etc. Then, she told us that "we are weak and frail on purpose," because we are not truly weak, we are "God's opportunity" to work through us in others. Then, we identified ways to strengthen ourselves. (I'm still working on that part.)

So what makes you "unfit" in the eyes of this world to be a minister, a vessel, or maybe even just a Christian?

No matter what you just thought of, here's the real treasure, taken from 2 Corinthians 4:9b (The Message version): "we've been thrown down, but not broken."

Did you catch that? NOT BROKEN. I don't know about you, but I and many of my friends who suffer from depression, self-injury, eating disorders, anxiety, and other mental health issues often refer to ourselves as "broken." But it's not true. So long as you are here, you are not broken. Wounded, perhaps, but not dead.

I'm excited to keep posting more as I hear from these amazing women and from God this weekend. Stay tuned! As always, leave me a comment or shoot me an email if you'd like to chat. Email:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Impossible Standards?

Today, my therapist made an observation about me that makes a lot of sense, even though I hadn't considered it before. Using examples, he pointed out that, while I'm willing to make allowances for others, I use the Bible to beat myself up.

For example, I often allow others to take advantage of me, but when asked why I don't take a stand, I will quote a Bible verse. The example used today happened to come from my marriage, so my therapist responded by saying, "'Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.' See, I have a verse, too." Point taken. I am not the only one who should be living up to certain standards.

He also pointed out, though, that I let faith tell me who I should be (living up to standards) rather than letting faith tell me who I am. So, his goal over the next few weeks is to "get that cross-shaped baseball bat" out of my hands so I'll stop beating myself with it.

I'm fascinated by this process, because I believe most of us have something we use to beat ourselves up. This is especially true of those of us struggling with anxiety, depression, self injury, eating disorders, etc. What do you beat yourself up with? The approval of others? The expectations of your faith? Societal standards?

I encourage you to identify what you beat yourself with. If you're not sure, consult a therapist or a trusted friend. Then, lay it aside, even if only for a moment. I have no doubt that it will take constant conscious decisions in order to stop beating ourselves. However, when I imagine feeling free again, it seems worth it.

Leave a comment or click to shoot me an email. I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I'm Back!

Wow, I've been a terrible blog host. Sorry! I went on a week's vacation and forgot to queue up some posts for y'all. But, now that I'm back, let's get back in the game.

I've just returned from a blissful vacation on which I did not have to worry about money, schedules, homework, work, etc. If I could stay in "vacation mode" forever, life would be pretty great. However, I can't. And even if I could, it wouldn't be good for me. As painful as returning to real life has been, it was necessary.

Let me give you a clearer example (since returning from vacation is a bit difficult to conceptualize as a good thing). While on vacation, my husband got a pretty bad sunburn. We had some ointment with us that we had discovered sped healing by a few days, at least. However, it formed a crunchy, strange-feeling layer on top of the skin while it did so. As a result, my husband refused to use the ointment, preferring to complain about the burn and endure the extra pain it caused rather than spend even an hour with "crunchy" skin.

Healing is never pleasant, but sometimes there are ways to fast-track healing. This leaves me wondering if I'm ignoring the fast-track to healing. Are you?

Leave me comments or click here to shoot me an email. Love y'all!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Get Moving

FINALS ARE OVER!! Praise the Lord!

So, sorry it's been awhile since I posted. Clearly I've been busy with finals, interviews, work, etc. But, I'm back now, and I have some interesting thoughts for you.

A dear friend of mine made a big life decision recently, and it has turned out really well for him. So, I told him  I was happy for him. He responded with, "Thanks. Now, I want to be able to tell you that I'm happy for you by this time next year, if not before."

What a challenge. Then, he asked me what I wanted. Strange how someone asking what you want and challenging you to change your life for the better makes things crystal clear. I know what I want. I haven't yet discovered how to get there. But it's still a step.

What practical steps can you take to make yourself healthier? What's keeping you from it?

Leave me comments or click here to email me. Ask advice, leave comments, whatever you need!

Love y'all!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

When it all Falls Apart

It seems like when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong. Has that ever happened to you?

It seems inevitable that we will all experience periods of time when everything just seems to go wrong. The real question is how we choose to deal with it. Personally, I find that I need to to deal with each thing separately, even if they happen all at once. Some would argue that this is unhealthy, that blocking out the second catastrophe in order to deal with the first. Perhaps they're right. But it's the only way I've found to keep from spiraling into deeper depression and injuring myself in such circumstances.

How do you cope when life collapses on you? Leave a comment or click here to shoot me an email at

Don't Touch the Apple

"It's one thing to not want something; it's another to be told you can't have it." 
- How I Met Your Mother, Season 7, Episode 12

Have you ever experienced this harsh reality? I have. I didn't want kids until I had to have a hysterectomy. Now, I really really want them. I didn't really want to go to my friends' parties or go dancing and such until I discovered that I have a husband is just pretty much never going to want to do those things. Now, it's my definition of fun.

What is it about those things we're told we can't have that makes them all the more enticing? Some people have told me that my desires for kids and socializing purely because I can't have them is a result of the Fall (of humankind, Adam & Eve, etc.). Not true. See, Adam and Eve were told not to eat the apple. They did. This is BEFORE the Fall, okay. There is simply something intrinsically interesting in what we can't have. I can't explain it. I can only say this: when you want something you've been told you can't have, slow down and take some time to make that decision. You can also try to find substitutes that might tide you over until the craving passes (just never try to substitute anything for chocolate - it's not worth it). For example, instead of rushing into adopting a baby, I got another kitten, who insists on waking me up periodically throughout the night, is extremely talkative, and chews on/eats everything in sight. In retrospect, a baby might have been the better choice there...

Wanting what I can't have also contributes greatly to my depression, self-injury, and suicidal tendencies. When I get wrapped up in mourning the one that got away, the babies I'll never have and hold, the farm I'll never have, and the husband's love I'm not likely to have, I begin to unravel. Those are times when I tend to self-injure in some way, whether visible or not, and often consider suicide. So, I haven't figured out how yet, but these are things I now know that I must not think about. For now, my temporary coping mechanism is to recite to myself all the bad things having that thing would/could bring. It's certainly not a permanent fix, and it may not even be truly healthy, but it keeps me safe for now.

What do you want that you can't have? How do you cope? Does it contribute to your health and safety issues? Comment here or shoot me an email at

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing

I made fruit salsa this weekend for dessert for a lunch with friends. It is amazing. But, as I found out the hard way, eat too much, and you'll feel sick. There are lots of things in our life that are this way. Listen to a song too many times, and you'll find yourself annoyed by it. Watch episodes of the same TV show for too long, and you'll probably get tired of it. Play the same game too many times in a row, and you'll need a break.

What other things do you find yourself getting tired of if they occur too often? Please leave ideas in the comments or click here to email me.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Power of Repetition

As I've been jotting down some of my thoughts for my therapist this week, it has occurred to me that the thoughts that repeat themselves over and over are probably the ones worth paying attention to. After all, we all know the power of repetition. We repeat words to take oaths, to get married, and to learn. I will never ever forget the Spanish phrase, "Repitan, por favor," which means "repeat, please," even if I forget all of the other Spanish I ever learned. Why? Because I heard it so often. It was repeated.

Now, some of my repeated thoughts are just ridiculous, and I haven't recorded all of them because, well, I think my therapist currently believes me to be generally sane. ;-) For example, every time I think about recording my thoughts, I think "monkey monkey underpants," which is a line from Gilmore Girls. Which may well qualify me for in-depth psychiatric care...

Anyway, I'm also learning that what my parents always said growing up is true: "Be careful what you watch and listen to. It becomes what you think." Yes, yes, it does. This morning, I woke up with a line from a song repeating in my head, "Even angels have their wicked schemes, and you take that to new extremes. Just gonna stand there and watch me burn?" I'm not really sure if this is a bad thing to have repeating in my head just yet, but the point is that the things you watch and listen to do, in fact, find their way into your thoughts. So, consume with caution.

Finally, on a more serious note, I've begun to notice that I frequently record some variation of, "I'm a horrible person" in my thoughts log. However, that thought isn't the one that concerns me. I'm more concerned with what thoughts or events lead up to that repeated thought. See, if I can figure out what prompts the negative repeated thoughts, maybe I can stop them. Maybe that's the first key step in healing.

I encourage you to give this exercise a try. And be patient it takes awhile to get used to recording your own thoughts. If you want to heal, you most likely need to get in touch with your thoughts, too. Let me know how it goes for you. And, as always, click to shoot me an email!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Hard Decisions

Hi, y'all!

Sorry I've been less consistent in posting here. While I love you all and enjoy writing to you, I've also made some time for me to spend time with my non-digital friends lately. I encourage you to do the same. I'm not sure there's anything better for my depression than spending time with people I genuinely love.

Today was therapy day (still working on saying that without being embarrassed - and there's no need to be - therapy is helpful sometimes!). Last week, my therapist and I embarked on a journey towards learning to love myself, but biblically, not in the way our self-obsessed society encourages you to love yourself.

This week, we addressed tough decisions. We've all made them (or avoided them): what major to choose, which college to attend, which job to take, how much to spend on an apartment, whether or not to remove yourself from someone's life, etc. What tough decisions do you face right now?

I'd like to encourage you to consider what your hardest decisions really are, though. I've spent the last year believing that the hardest decision I was facing was what to do about my marriage. However, my therapist has aided me in discovering that the real hard decision I currently face is deciding to care for myself and figuring out how to do so. I suspect that many of you face that same tough decision. So, how do you care for yourself while still keeping the biblical principle of loving your neighbors as yourself? I certainly don't have the definitive answers, but here are some ideas that I hope will help you:

  • "Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5) - I'm starting this process by writing down my thoughts periodically so that I can objectively examine them as data later. The reasoning behind this activity is that my thoughts of self-harm are most likely triggered by other thoughts. If I can identify those thoughts, perhaps I can get ahead of them and keep myself safe.

  • Make time for your safe social network. In other words, those friends you would trust with your life, who you know are not going to cross any lines, those are the people you need to make time for. Go have fun. Spend some time away from the physical manifestations of your problems, whatever they may be.

  • Objectively evaluate what the people in your life who are not meeting your needs or expectations can do about that. There will be some things they simply can't give to you. Figure out how you can fill in those gaps yourself or find someone in your safe social network who can fill those gaps. It does you no good to continue to expect someone to do things they are simply incapable of doing.

  • Be honest about what you need, as well as what you can provide in your relationships. If you can have realistic expectations from the start, many relationship issues can be avoided.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Have you ever had an experience that just changes the way you see everything? I had one of those moments yesterday, thanks to my therapist. We were discussing love. It was going about like I would have guessed. He was asking how I defined love, how I thought others did, etc. Then, he asked a question I never expected.

Therapist: So, what do you think of yourself?
Me: *after long pause* I guess....I don't like myself. I mean, I can see a couple good things, but, in general...

*Skip some conversation*

Therapist: You have worth, Nina; you have value. You just have to find it in yourself.

At this point, the room literally began to spin. I could not see straight. When I tried to look at something, it would move. The room was still spinning when he asked where I was on a scale of 1-10, 10 being super likely to cut due to being overwhelmed.

Me: 4. Definitely spinning, but I don't think bad spinning.
Therapist: So tell me what it's about.
Me: I'm just. I know what you said is true, but I'm trying to reconcile that with what I've done. I mean, on the one hand, I have value and worth. On the other hand, I've become a woman who has marriage issues and attempted suicide and cuts.
Therapist: I think you'll be able to reconcile that once you have moved away from it. I think that will happen once you encounter who you are. Not only what you've done, but who God says you are.

*Cue room spinning again.*

I think I have an amazing therapist. Couldn't ask for a better person to help me through this. I share this conversation because I suspect that many of you need to hear this as well. Now, let's be clear. My therapist made sure to remind me that he's not pushing me to shut everyone else out and only focus on me. No, he embraces the biblical model, "love your neighbor as yourself," but he points out that, for that model to work, you must first at least care about yourself, otherwise you have no love to give to your neighbor.

So, if you struggle with similar issues, I just want to take a moment to tell you:

You have value. You have worth. You need to fight to see yourself the way God sees you.

I'll post more on this as I go through the process. In the meantime, feel free click here to send me an email!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Don't Forget...

Today, I just have something fun for you: a late semicolon submission from someone who says "I'm going to do this every day to remind myself I can make it!" Can't miss any of these, so thank you, dear reader!

Please know that you, too, can make it. So draw semicolons if you need - I love the idea of doing every day!

I'm working on an extremely interesting post for tomorrow about the events of today, so definitely come back tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Beauty From Pain

Today, on the 23rd of April, I woke up to snow. I was not happy. As most of my friends can tell you, my take on snow is that it's beautiful so long as I don't have to touch it. Bad news, people, I had to touch it today, to scrape about two inches of it off of my car.

Then, I saw a photo a friend of mine posted.

Beautiful, right? I realized something, when I saw that photo. There is always beauty. Even in pain and confusion. So the next time someone or something hurts you, find a way to make something good come of it (the existence of this blog is a prime example). The next time you're not sure what the next step should be, pause, take a look around, and see the beauty of the moment, confusing though it may be. 

This is not to say that you should just sit still when confusion hits. Pray, seek wise counsel, consult your Bible, and then do something - the best option you can find - unless you specifically hear from God to wait. Do not let fear of doing the wrong thing keep you from doing anything at all.

This is also not to say that you should just always act and see what happens. If you are unsure, pray without ceasing; consult wise, Godly people; and then take a conservative step and see what happens. Again, this blog is a great example. I felt called to start a ministry, but unsure of what or how to do it. So I prayed. I read. And then I sent emails to a couple of trusted pastors and started this blog. These are conservative steps. If I found out I was not supposed to have this particular ministry at this time, a blog is easy to put on hold, and pastors tend to be understanding when it comes to God's speaking into lives. 

What kind of beauty is in your current circumstance? Leave a comment or click here to shoot me an email. I love hearing from you!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Take a Deep Breath

Happy Friday, y'all!

I'm sure some of you can relate to the relief I feel at the prospect of a day off. This has been a week during which I have struggled to remember that God is the center of the universe, not anyone else. I think this is a combination of my codependent tendencies and the fact that our culture tells us that falling in love means that the person we love becomes the very center of our universe. The truth, though, is that, in love or not, the center of our world should be God. If the center is anyone or anything else, we're destined for depression, disappointment, or worse.

Now, most of us can't take days off very often, so below I've compiled a list of shorter-term breaks that I use quite frequently. If you have a pair of headphones, they're even work friendly. Please check these out the next time you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or spinning out of control.

No More Voices - Where you share your doubts, fears, etc, and learn that other people feel the same way.

The Quiet Place - Here, you simply relax, with some guidance. It's truly incredible.

The Thoughts Room - You can type out all of your thoughts and watch them just disappear. Nobody sees them, nobody responds, you just get to release all of those thoughts spinning in your head.

The Dreams Room - Need help keeping your dreams in focus? Check this out. It is a bit "me-focused" but the general concept is definitely important.

90 Second Relaxation Exercise - Short on time? Take just 90 seconds to try this out. You'll feel better, I swear.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Semicolon Project Day Wrapup

On Tuesday, I celebrated Semicolon Day. There is a Facebook page and a Tumblr dedicated to it, along with other sites, I'm sure. Just Google "Semicolon Project" and you'll find information. The basic gist is that, on April 16th, those of us who struggle with depression, self-injury, eating disorders, and/or have attempted suicide drew semicolons on our wrists. The semicolon indicates a place where the author could have placed a period, but chose to continue the sentence with a semicolon instead. In other words, we've all had the opportunity to end our lives, but have, for whatever reason, chosen to go on.

I asked y'all to send me photos, and some of you did! So, here is the photo collage from Semicolon Day. Be warned that there are some visible scars/healing wounds, so it could be triggering. However, I think it's worth the risk, because the message of the Semicolon Project is so important. Anyway, sorry this is a day late, but, as many of you know, I'm not super tech-savvy. Read on below the photo for my brief, but awesome, Semicolon Day story.

On Semicolon Day, one of my students asked what the semicolons were about. I explained the concept to him without revealing my personal reasons for participating. However, he had noticed the wounds from my suicide attempt earlier when I pulled up my sleeves out of habit (our workspace is incredibly warm). So, I told him that my participation in Semicolon Day explained those wounds. He looked a bit stunned and asked why. When we finished talking, he left to read this blog for more info, but before he left, he folded his hands in front of his chest and said, "I'll be prayin'." Those three words have never meant more.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When Someone You Love Tries to Die/Cuts/Starves

I've noticed that lots of you dear readers are friends and family members of people who struggle with depression, self injury, eating disorders, or even who have attempted suicide. So, I figured it was high time to address some of the most common questions or confusions that arise when a friend or family member reveals their struggle.

First, let's talk about the word "normal." When I first began actually processing my self-injury issues, I kept thinking that I wasn't "normal." I also heard that from people who were hearing about my struggle, that they thought I was "normal" and were shocked that I had struggles. So, here's the thing, it is NORMAL to have struggles. Some people struggle with alcohol, driving too fast, insecurities about their relationships, or overwhelming financial concerns, just to name a few. In fact, it is less normal not to struggle (although, if you sincerely do not struggle, kudos!). The difference, for those of us in the self-injury, eating disorder, or suicide survivors clubs is that our struggles are not socially acceptable. However, it is normal to struggle with the things that lead us to attempt suicide, cut, burn, starve, purge, etc.

Now, that being said, I will never argue that our methods of coping are healthy. They aren't. Labeling those who have attempted suicide or any form of self injury as "abnormal" does nobody any good, though. Realize that, although our outlets for our emotions are not socially acceptable, we need to know that the things we struggle with (weight, relationships, academics, etc.) are normal things to struggle with.

Second, and most importantly, it's not your fault, but you can still do something about it. Maybe the person will even tell you that something you did or didn't do contributed to their cutting, purging, or suicide attempt, but, while you should own your actions, you are not responsible for how they chose to act out their feelings. Please understand that.

So how do you help? I wish there was an easy answer for that, but it largely depends on the situation. Here are some basics to start with:

**Ask questions and then listen. It is tempting to interrupt their answer with expressions of surprise, disdain, etc., but resist that urge.

**Ask what they need. For instance, I need people to check in on me randomly and often. The more connection I have with people, the less likely I am to slip up. Ask those questions.

**And then do it - the worst thing you can do is ask and then not follow through.

**My final bit of advice - do not suddenly pull yourself out of their lives. As overwhelming as it may be, telling someone you'll be there for them and then suddenly deciding to disappear can create major issues - it helped precipitate my suicide attempt. So, if you need to dial back your involvement, be honest about that, but do not - I repeat, do not - remove yourself entirely. If, for some reason, you do need to exit their life, do so very gradually and very sensitively. You do not want to wind up the reason they relapsed into whatever their addiction is.

If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to click here to email me. If I don't have the answers, I'm happy to help you find the right resource!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Semicolon Day - DO IT!

My mind is currently overloaded by several things, but I wanted to just tell y'all about a cool thing happening tomorrow. April 16th is apparently semicolon day. Now, before you tune out, this isn't an English nerd thing. Semicolon day simply involves drawing a semicolon on yourself in a visible place if you deal with depression or any form of self-injury or suicidal thoughts/attempts. Why? Because the semicolon represents a place where the author could have chosen to end it, but chose instead to go on. Those of us who suffer these issues must make that choice every day. So, tomorrow, on April 16th, draw a semicolon to represent your continuing story and to raise awareness of these issues, which our society so often refuses to discuss.

Send me pictures of your semicolons, people! (Even if you don't happen to do them on the right day - just do them whenever and send me pics!) Here's the email address to send them to:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Take a Moment

This morning, I was getting a bit stressed out because I realized that I had not been posting as much as I liked, my research project isn't moving as quickly as I would like, and my future is uncertain. Today, which is typically my day off, was spent doing research, substitute teaching, and attending meetings. I was feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and triggered  beyond belief. I briefly visited with one of my biggest supporters, but it just wasn't enough. So, I decided to do something that is, for me, pretty radical. I took a moment for myself.

For me, taking a moment has to be complete separation from work. If I'm trying to just relax and watch a movie, I most often find myself working while watching. Same goes for trying to take a bubble bath, read, or even nap. Obviously, finding a way to truly take a moment for myself is difficult. However, I have found that tanning works for me. Yes, I'm fully aware of the health risks. It's worth it to me because it calms down. It's worth it because, after tanning, I was calm for several hours. Lately, that's a major feat. A few hours of calm is totally worth taking fifteen minutes for me.

How do you calm down or take a moment for yourself? Leave it in the comments or shoot me an email!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Hard Truths

Have you ever been talking to someone and they give you a piece of advice that stings? A piece of advice you'd rather just ignore, but it nags at you because, deep down, you know it's true?

This happened to me a few days ago, when a friend told me "You're putting too much stock in human relationships. You need to focus on you and God." At first, I dismissed it. After all, I know who defines me, but I also love people. Nothing wrong with that, right? But it kept eating at me. I couldn't get the comment out of my mind, so, finally, I prayed about it. And the answers was crystal clear: I need to eliminate my reliance on people and myself and rely solely on God.

This is not an easy thing to do. But, then, very few things I've done in my life have been easy. Even the stupid choices have been difficult. However, a friend reminded me this morning of Matthew 17:20 "'For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.'" Now, I don't think Jesus actually meant for us to move mountains for the fun of it (although how cool would that be!), just that a little faith goes a long way. 

Already, I feel different, better, somehow. While I think about self-injuring and suicide on a regular basis, they are no longer serious options very often. While I think about the people I love quite often, and even people I love less than I should, their actions, feelings, thoughts, etc., are already having less impact on me. It's slow going, and I know there will be setbacks, but I feel well on my way to being a new person. All because a friend was brave enough to tell me the hard truth.