Thursday, March 26, 2015

5 Keys to Healing: Two Years Later

It's hard to believe that it's been two years since I chose life. (Click here if you want to read the story of that day.) Over the past two years, I've learned, grown, hurt, been to therapy, gotten a divorce, taken a new job, made new friends....long story short, it's been a busy two years. I've made many mistakes, but that's how people learn. Now, in the hopes of helping you to skip at least some of the painful learning, here are the most important things I've learned over two year journey to health and happiness.

1. You need to be a little selfish. I'm not advocating self-centeredness as a lifestyle, but you need to carve out time for yourself. That could mean making time to work out, or paint, or write, or whatever hobby you're into. You might also need to let yourself make that education- or work-related decision that's best for you, no matter what others might think. You have to be selfish sometimes to maintain your mental, physical, and spiritual health.

2. Decide for yourself what the little things are and then refuse to allow them to stress you out. As someone with anxiety, this was the most difficult task and took me the longest. I had to decide that what people thought of me, how my hair looked, and whether or not I was in a relationship just didn't matter. I was enough as I was, on my own.

3. Get moving! Although I was reluctant to admit it, my physical health directly impacted my mental and spiritual health. I am much healthier in all aspects when I am running regularly. Not only is my body functioning better, which improves mental health, but I have that alone time to think, work through things, pray, etc. 

4. Make a list (but don't overwhelm yourself). I find that listing everything I need to do is helpful in keeping me functioning, even on my most depressed days. However, if something doesn't need to be done immediately, I either put it way far down on the list or leave it off for the moment. This way, I can easily see what needs done and keep moving. This also allows me to easily switch tasks when I get bored or just need a shift. Bonus tip: If you're unmotivated and can't get moving, pick something that you think you can do in one minute or less and do it. After all, an object in motion stays in motion!

5. Be honest. Clearly, this is a good rule regardless, but specifically, be honest with a few key people who are around you every day about what you are going through. This will allow them to step in when someone else says or does something that could be triggering or just plain unhelpful. For instance, I work with middle school and high school students. The boys, especially, like to sneak up behind you and scare you. For various reasons, this can (and often does) send me into a panic attack. By telling a few key people about my healing process, I ensure that someone can take over and reassure the students if I do have a panic attack due to a (typically) harmless prank. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Roaring Like a Lion

Recently, I've been fighting to get myself healthier - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I'll write more about this process later, as I know it's a common goal, particularly for those of us who struggle with mental illness. For now, a little on the struggle for spiritual health.

As often happens to us when we're busy, mildly depressed, and just not feeling connected, I drifted away from church. Now, don't misunderstand me. Going to church makes you spiritually healthy about as well as standing in the produce section makes you physically healthy. You can't just attend, you have to do something. So, while I'm in church, I write. I absorb what's being said around me, but I don't actually process it in a useful way unless I write. I knew a guy once who doodled all through the sermon, but by the end actually knew what had been said. You find your own way, but realize that you must do something with what you hear there. (Even if you disagree.)

So, I went back to church. Below are some notes I wrote up after church recently. I thought these were interesting, so I decided to share with you.

"My God's not dead, He's surely alive. He's livin' on the inside, roarin' like a lion." From "God's Not Dead" by The Newsboys

If you haven't heard the song I took that quote from, click play. Seriously worth your time.

When I heard God compared to a lion, as I have my whole life, I guess I assumed it was because he was King and ferocious and such. Then, for some reason, the speaker's mention of The Newsboys' song made me wonder - why does a lion roar? Turns out, lions don't generally roar in anger or to intimidate, though I'm sure it's happened. Rather, lions roar to proclaim their territory and to gather straying members of the pride back to them. So, when my God is a lion, he is not only an able fighter, but also a territorial, compassionate leader. Although Satan rules the earth now, one day, God will roar, and the sound will reach the whole earth. Satan will hear and know that God is claiming his territory. All of the inhabitants of the earth will hear and believe in Him. We will gather 'round our father, the lion of Judah, God Almighty. Until then, let Him roar in me.

To be frank, the above writing had nothing to do with the speaker's message that day. But it was a rabbit trail off of something he said, and an important one for me. As someone seeking to regain spiritual health, I needed to hear that God will roar, God will claim his territory (you and I included), and so my efforts to regain spiritual health are not in vain.

I hope that some of you needed to hear this as well. I apologize for taking so long, dear followers, but I promise to make a concerted effort to be around more consistently!