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.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Learning to Listen

How many times do you have to hear the same advice before you decide that it's actually God speaking to you? Or that it's wise advice? Or that it's what you need to do?

Sometimes, the hardest thing for those of us who are struggling with depression and the myriad of related issues (self injury, suicide, eating disorders, etc.) is listening to advice. We're so down that we struggle to take advice or to discern the difference between good advice and bad. Sometimes, though, you hear the same advice so many times that you could recite it in your sleep. Maybe you even consider doing it. But then, someone you never expected gives you the same advice. And suddenly, you sit up and listen. Suddenly, you realize that you need to take this advice. Suddenly, you understand that this is not just people talking to you, it's God.

That's what has happened to me, culminating in a friend at the yard sale hearing my story and giving me the same advice I've heard a million times. This time, I really heard it. This time, I'm really trying to work through that advice and its practical implications.

What advice have you been hearing that you need to listen to more closely?

As always, click to email me if you like!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sale Time

Today, my friends and I held a yard sale. I grew up being somewhat attached to stuff, probably due to growing up below the poverty line. But today, I realized that it felt good to get rid of stuff. (The extra cash didn't hurt, either.) It got me thinking, though. What about the other stuff in our lives we need to get rid of, even if it isn't easy.

What are you holding onto that you need to let go? A relationship? An addiction? A bad habit? Physical belongings? Jealousy? Anger? What would you be healthier without?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Just Do It

Sometimes, the smallest gesture can change someone's day and, thereby, someone's life. Like my friend Nick choosing to respond to my suicidal messages. Like a former colleague sending me a video of my favorite actor singing a beautiful song. Like a random gift, call, text, or visit.

These small things don't just make a difference to the person receiving them. They can make an enormous difference to the person giving as well. When I'm having a rough day (or week, month, year, life...) I try to do something for someone else. Especially if I haven't gotten one of those small gestures in awhile. It makes me feel like my life matters, in some small way.

Give it a try. Do something kind, something small, for someone else. You never know whose life you'll save.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


My apologies for not posting yesterday. I've gotten a bit busy with school lately. It's that time of year!

So, I'm also copping out for today and posting a fun story for you. (Although, seriously, laughter is awesome medicine.) I asked my friend, Rich, for a fun bedtime story to distract me from my cutting/suicidal urges. No man I have asked has ever been able to respond with a story, so I expected the standard “I don’t know one” or “I don’t do well when I’m on the spot” or, at best, a rehashed classic. Instead, I got this original masterpiece:

Once upon a time there were two squirrels.
One was named Bob and one was named James.
They were the best of friends.
They knew that spring was coming to their neck of the woods, and they were excited.
Bob was excited to not have to eat nuts from the beginning of the winter. He was really jazzed about the prospect of fresh nuts.
James was excited about stealing food from the bird feeders.
He couldn’t understand why people were so dumb that they put bird feeders out where squirrels (like himself) could get to them.
Well, finally spring did come and James and Bob enjoyed their individual favorite things.
Unfortunately for both of the squirrels, there were negative effects of both the things they were doing.
Bob got so fat on fresh nuts that he couldn’t move and had to be rolled everywhere he went.
He eventually went to the Big Oak Tree in the sky because not only could he not walk… but he could not feed himself.
James found a bird feeder that had all of the choicest bird foods in it and he ate there whenever he could.
Unfortunately for him, the humans that own that particular feeder have a vendetta against squirrels, and one day they poisoned the food.
Needless to say, James went to see his best buddy Bob and all of the humans on earth lived happily ever after without all of the the dumb squirrels running around.

The End

Monday, April 1, 2013

Blog Update

Hi all! So I've added a "help" page to my blog with links and hotline numbers for the US and various other countries. Please feel free to comment or send me an email if you'd like to see any other resources or countries added to the list!