Something Good

The Interview. It didn’t happen the way I expected. I didn’t think I would tear up in front of the program director when talking about missions. And when she check the Accept box on my application right in front of me, I have to say I didn’t see it coming. I thought about what it would have been like if it happened any other way. If it had been a rejection, then it would be a sign that this wasn’t the direction God wanted me to take. Or if I had gotten in by a more traditional route, where I wait a few weeks for their decision before the YES, then I would say “oh, well a lot of people decide to go to grad school when they don’t know where to go” (a very selfish and All-Me decision), rather than believe that it was a God-ordained thing. The atypical way the whole ordeal went was a confirmation that my decision was true north. Your reading the post of an official candidate in CBU’s Masters in Counseling Psychology Program!

Counseling. Steven gave me her number a few days before. I didn’t contact her right away. To be honest, I had my reservations about the prospect of finding a counselor. And it sounded like she wouldn’t have much time for me, seeing as she’s both a professor and a practicing therapist. Why help me for lower pay? And being so wrapped up in my interview stuff, I pushed contacting her out of my mind. Until it hit.  I was sitting at my desk, eating a pasta, and watching a show. A perfectly relaxing time, when it crept up out of nowhere. The welling up of negativity, the emotions, the panic, and the tears. It wasn’t like the other breakdowns. It came faster and was a lot more volatile. Then I gave in. I emailed her. To my fortune, she responded within a few hours and the next thing I knew, we had a Skype session scheduled for the following day.

Depersonalization Disorder. Apparently, I display symptoms of this. I looked it up after our session. WebMD says that its when a person would experience episodes of disconnection and detachment. It’s like having an out of body experience that is usually a reaction to some sort of trauma/trigger. Like an outside person looking in. The person is still connected to reality, but they are aware that the reality is distorted somehow. The awareness becomes stressful and causes panic. And looking back on how I described my experiences in an earlier post, I would have to say it sounds about right. It’s not a conclusive diagnosis. I only had an hour with her. But it’s a start.

God. God gave me all that in a week. One answered prayer after another. He is good and he is working. It was hard believing that, no matter how many times I preached it to myself. But maybe it just takes a lot of God dragging me around kicking and screaming and whining and crying before I begin to see where he wants to bring me to.

A Few Friends

In my journal, I wrote that May was the worst month. When June came I was relieved that May was over. Did I really think that all the downs of May wouldn’t flow over? I’d like to think I’m not that dumb. But maybe I am. Or maybe I was just clinging to some hope (real or not).

The depressive episodes are getting worse. Steven sent me the contact to a counselor from his seminary. I’ll probably give her a call soon, but for now, I’m still in limbo. I can’t eat and I love eating. I don’t know how to talk anymore, which is frustrating because fun/life-giving conversations is my specialty. Not anymore. I can’t control what comes out of my mouth. I use to be able to bite my tongue and calm my gloomier thoughts. But now,  everything that comes out of my mouth is covered with a much angrier and withering view than I’m used to.

Friendships.

Maurice and Willa are good constants. I don’t feel like I have to hold back as much. Though, I still want to have a more colorful lens when we talk. Our Fact of the Day / Question of the Day has been a good anchor during my more off days. They’re like breaths of air when I’m drowning. I love the natural rhythm we have. I don’t think this is something that’s very easy to find. How lucky am I to have stumbled upon it. Sometimes, I feel like I might become a burden, and I’m still trying to navigate that. I don’t really know why I haven’t completely shut them out yet. Maybe it’s because they seem to be able to read my moods better than other people. Maybe it’s cause I know I can’t escape them. Their persistence is the best and worse thing about them.

Greg’s always shared a lot with me. His transparency and intentionality are things I value a lot. We’ve had more ups and downs in this friendship in the span of 6 months than I’ve ever had with anyone else. Most people I don’t let very close. I enjoy them and I share, and I can even go deep. But if it takes a turn for the worse and they leave, I just let them go. This friendship with Greg is harder to navigate and much harder to let go. Our rhythm is a little different than Maurice and Willa’s. We used to have amazing spirit-giving talks whether they go deep or not. Lately, it hasn’t been so. This is where I notice my failures the most. My inability to speak, to laugh, to encourage, or to joke becomes a thorn I can’t pick out. Level-headedness is something he said he appreciated about me. And in this season, I feel more out of my mind than ever. So I held back. Even though he offered to be my ear and my person for this stupid depression thing, I couldn’t get myself to actually tell him anything (even though I really want to). Because I didn’t want to be too much and too negative and too scatter-brained. I didn’t want to be dropped. And even though I’ve said some terribly mean things about our friendship (because pushing people away is my other specialty), he still tries to be a good friend. He doesn’t just let me leave without talking things out, and he puts food on my plate when I couldn’t do it myself cause I was falling down the rabbit hole again. Whenever we hang out, the only thought that goes through my head is how much I wish I can go back to the energizing, supportive, and talkative person I used to be.

Kristen’s been growing a lot. Though she struggles, I think she struggles well. Eyes to Jesus. She’s been having more bad days than good, and I understand a lot of what that’s like. Maybe only I think this, but her and I are pretty similar. We’re both allergic to emotions, we like to deflect, and we run from people a lot. It takes a lot of effort to convince her to do anything. But I keep trying because I know deep down she wants to be with people. And I haven’t been wrong yet. I try because I’m the same way. I’m stubborn because I’m afraid. It takes some people a long time to push me out of my comfort zone. Most people drop it after the 3rd or 4th “No thanks”. But I’ve realized that what some need is not a small nudge, but a forceful shoving. Kristen and I are just like that. Even though we met each other not too long ago, there’s a familiarity and comfort  I enjoy. She a great person to talk scripture with and share about church perspectives, if not anything else.

God. Sometimes I don’t know if He’s silent or I’m just a terrible listener. The past week of not being able to move or work left my spirit sulking in sin. I just think, “I’m suffering and I don’t know how to get out of it” or  “God’s redemptive power isn’t enough to get me out of my head” or “the entirety of my life and me as a person is a mistake… I serve no purpose.”

Something to pray over:

And I will give you rest,” i.e., I will stay you. Not – I will put you to bed and hold your hand and sing you to sleep; but – I will get you out of bed, out of the languor and exhaustion, out of the state of being half dead while you are alive; I will imbue you with the spirit of life, and you will be stayed by the perfection of vital activity. We get pathetic and talk about “suffering the will of the Lord”! Where is the majestic vitality and might of the Son of God about that? – My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

Stop sulking. Get up and out. But not by my power, but the power of Christ. My wallowing and sulking displays my lack of faith, and I’ve been letting this fester into guilt. I do not get out of bed by myself. I’m not able to. But if by chance I do get up, it is because God has lifted me up. By his power, I rise. And by his power, I will continue to move forward.

This Quiet Week

This week has been fairly quiet. Which is good. I stayed home, did some homework, binged Netflix, and read a short devotional here and there. I wasn’t itching for people or to go out. I wasn’t bored out of my mind because my mind was busy. But then again, it’s always busy up there.

Then the fog descended. A little trigger leading from thought to thought to thought. Just faster and faster. The overarching theme? I feel like I’m incapable of doing anything. I went from the college me, holding down a 20+ hour job at an office, doing ministry work, full-time school, extra classes outside, volunteer stuff, to this post-grad me, doing absolutely nothing. I’m scared of failure. And I’m scared of not being mentally stable enough to commit to any job or school or even volunteer work. But maybe that’s an excuse for my fear of failure (which I know is a stupid fear). It deters me from finding part time work or studying harder or preparing for my interview next week. Suddenly, I can’t even get out of bed. It took a lot just to move or walk the dog. I’ve fallen into slothfulness, and I feel pathetic. And alas, the guilt. I feel guilty and ashamed because I don’t want to stay still and I want to move. I feel like I owe my parents to at least go forward. And for some reason, that makes it harder to keep going.

Breathe. Focus on the positive. Look for hope. It’s getting harder.

Sometimes, people ask me how I am. I don’t have an answer.

I’m Good.

I’m Fine.

All defaults because there’s nothing better to say. Or sometimes I’m a little more honest and I say, “I don’t know how to answer that” because I really don’t. Most of the time, that is met with silence because the other party doesn’t know how to respond. They’re uncomfortable. And again, it’s somehow my fault.

Caution: Don’t ask a question if you’re not ready for the answer.

But thanks for asking, I guess.

 

 

Processing

My last few posts have been incredibly morbid. Sorry. I wish I could wield my brain to not think about suicide or death so much. I’ve been trying to dissect my brain bit by bit. WHY is it getting harder and harder to control my emotions? When did things start looking so dark?

Counseling. It would be great to do this with a professional, but the first place I contacted never got back to me, which prompted me to contact them again. They put me on a wait list a second time and said someone will call me two weeks later, which never happened. My cynicism, fear, and anxiety told me to give up after that, so I did for another month. Then I tried calling a new place, which didn’t take the insurance that I had. I wanted to call them back later and figure out something, but it didn’t happen. Family stuff. Different opinions. Sticky things. So I gave up again. And I haven’t tried any other place since. It might be an excuse, but it’s hard getting up again by yourself when the little bit of effort you’ve muster gets crushed multiple times already.

Dark thoughts. Here’s what I’ve processed.

I realized that my moods are harder to control when there’s a lot of people. Like there’s too much going on or I hear a lot of different conversations around me and voices start to blur. I get triggered. Everything gets really loud in my head and I start feeling unstable. I start thinking really fast to the point where I can’t retrace my thoughts. Which is probably why I get so frustrated that nothing I say or think makes any sense when I try to explain what I’m feeling or thinking to other people. I can’t trace it back to the original thought. The catalyst.

Also, I find myself slipping into darker moods when I’m really fixated on something that I’m either trying to figure out or that I can’t shake out of my head. Like an idea or question or unprocessed lie/truth. And I’m trying to think positively or just stop thinking at all, but I keep failing.

For example, if I see or hear something that stirs a strong reaction from me, I become fixated on it. I can’t stop thinking about it. I try to think my way out or around but then it arouses other thoughts and feelings. Then it all turns into frustration and negativity. It’s a dark spiral.

After that, it’s just a lot of headaches and struggling with insomnia. And reading/Netflix/writing/exercising can’t take my mind off it. Like I’m trying to keep busy by myself but it doesn’t really work.

Anchor. My friend thinks it’s a stability issue. Like, my church community isn’t stable, my friendships are still new enough that I can’t be confident that they’ll last, my school/career path is up in the air, and there’s nothing tangible that can keep my anchored to the ground. It’s like I’m in the ocean and trying to swim with no life jacket or anything to hold onto.

What do I do? Maybe I’m not trusting enough…

Are You Okay

They don’t stop. The tug and pull. The nudging. The thoughts all blur together. Down the rabbit hole I go. I’m being driven mad. So many feelings and thoughts that don’t make sense. And in the midst of the confusion, the only voice I can make out is the one that says JUMP. And as I walk over the bridge of Freeway 57, I really want to listen to it.

Yes, it happened again. The hesitancy, the awkwardness, and the distrust were building up as I sat on the picnic blanket eating my 8 little chicken wings in the middle of the church picnic, surrounded by a group of people I couldn’t talk to. I felt the separateness and after failing to shut out all the hateful thoughts in my head, I knew I couldn’t stay. So I walked away. When I got to the sidewalk, I kept walking. When I got to the main street down on Yorba Linda, I kept going. Over Freeway 57 and all the way back to the parking structure I almost jumped off of 2 weeks before.

Short Rant. I hate this question: Are you okay?

Why do I hate this question?

  • Because most of the time, this question gets asked in a public setting, where the person being asked will always feel the pressure to answer in the affirmative. There is a room filled with more than a dozen other people, do you really expect me to break the last bit of resolve I can muster? There are more appropriate times to cry. And as much as I value transparency, breaking down in a room with a bunch of people I don’t know that well will never feel safe. And maybe I’ve been conditioned to say, Yea I’m fine. Sometimes, those are the words that come out of my mouth before my brain even processes the actual question.
  • Also, because the person asking already knows the answer. Nobody asks anybody this question unless they think the party in question is NOT okay. Which in most cases, the party is definitely not well if they can’t even pretend anymore.
  • Plus, if I answer with, No I’m not okay, then I’ve condemned you having to dive down the rabbit hole with me. You, my poor friend, would be forced to ask me follow-up questions and sit there listening, and feeling confused and unequipped to help. You’d have to waste your precious time on trying to care for me when you can be doing something else, or talking to someone happier and more fun. And that kind of sucks for you doesn’t it? Because if you try to throw some half-hearted encouragement and then just walk off because you didn’t REALLY want to open the can of worms, you’d come off looking like a real jerk. And I cannot condemn you to that sad reality.

And those are SOME of the reasons as to why I have a hard time answer this question. Because I WANT to tell the truth, but the truth is so risky. It’s not anybody’s fault. Because, technically, they tried. They at least made the effort. And to be honest, if I ever do end up jumping off a building, that will be the one thing that keeps them from feeling guilt.

“O well, we tried. So our hands are clean.”

“She just didn’t want help. Can’t blame anyone but herself”

“You can’t control what people do”

“It’s sad, but it’s nobody’s fault”

All valid statements. So why does it hurt to hear them?

The fight for joy is the fight to see. I can’t see the path in front of me. I don’t know what tomorrow looks like. Whether I’ll be okay or not. I can’t differentiate the people who love me from the people who will hurt me. I can’t see the glory of the gospel. I don’t know what is true anymore.

I know the word is so important. So, so important… Be grounded in the word because that is the only real true thing we have. And even when we have it, it’s hard to see it for what God intended. I keep fighting to see God for who he is, but I don’t see anything. It’s so blurry. So, so blurry…

The Ledge

I’m over the railing and my foot inches closer towards the cement ledge. I look over and down. It’s a 4 story vertical drop. I don’t even remember how I got up there, alone at the top of the parking garage.

2 hours ago I was at lunch with all the other happy people. Willa and Maurice sat down at my table and began picking at their food. More people came and they were smiling and laughing, and I was all too aware of the difference between their disposition and mine. Their happiness pointed to my inability to be present in the moment with them. I was in a bubble again.

I sat and stared at nothing. I only heard the muffled conversations of normal people around me. I was aware of two things: my guilt and my fear. I looked at Willa and Maurice, sitting quietly, both aware of my state of sadness. I was dragging them down. Miserable me always ruining the mood… I turn and see Greg, laughing and conversing with the other ten plus people at the table. I was in conflict. Because as much as I didn’t want to be a downer, I couldn’t help but feel hurt and sad that everyone else seemed so joyful. I shouldn’t feel that way. I want them to have a good time. Then I knew… I didn’t belong in this group. I’m not one of them. I saw myself as separate. Emotionally, mentally, physically, everything. I shouldn’t be there.

“I’m going to head out,” I said as I got up and walked away. But I didn’t leave. My engine started and I realized I had nowhere to go. After a minute of thinking, I turned it off. I chucked the keys to the side, frustrated that I was still stuck in the parking lot of the plaza, my sort of friends only a 10-second walk away. Why am I so selfish? I don’t want to be… I prayed.

God, please give them a joyful day. Despite how I feel or how I am, give them a day of rest and peace. May their worries escape their thoughts and may you give them the confidence and perseverance to face tomorrow, whether it’s work or school…

My heart continues to pull. I hate the fears I have about Renew. I hate overthinking about my relationship with this community. I hate thinking about how I will become too much for them. I don’t want to be scared of being thrown away anymore. The only way to stop the storm on the inside is to leave 100 percent. If I have no friends, then I have nothing to care about, nothing that can hurt me. I wouldn’t be able to want or wish. I don’t have to face disappointment. My fingers move fast. I leave every chat and Facebook group related to Renew. I LEFT. I throw my phone to the side as soon as I’m done, for fear that I may see the emptiness of my page and regret it all.

I’m crying. The pamphlet I picked up at Pastor Tori’s funeral the previous day sits in the seat next to me. I’ve been reading it over and over. He died a week and a half ago. Sudden cardiac arrest. I detached. Unlike everyone else, I didn’t cry when I heard, I didn’t cry when I saw the casket. But now it’s different.

Pastor Tori led a humble, faithful life. He used to be a Dean at Truth seminary. He loved the bible, the history, the context, the old dusty facts that many people lose patience with. And he loved the dinky little church in Covina so much that he would spend every weekend driving 200+ miles to teach them. He rejected job offers from other ministries for a little group of misfits. It didn’t matter that the members were immature and young and disorganized. It didn’t matter that in the years he was there, the population saw little growth in numbers. He was committed to his community, joyful and calm in all seasons, faithful in serving, and always devoted to the word of God.

And I left that church for Renew. Guilt. I never realized how much I learned from him. Guilt. I never thanked him for his teaching. Guilt. I told myself before the funeral that I will see him again in heaven and there will be opportunities to thank him. But my heart was wrenching and I wanted to forgo everything. Guilt. He was so faithful to his little community. Me? I just ran away from mine… Guilt! Guilt! GUILT! 

Meridian Parking Garage. I left Renew, yet I found no place to go but the parking place in front of the building Renew rents for their services. I got out of the car and walked over to the concrete clearing on the side of the parking garage. The railings of the 4th floor overlooked this area. I wasn’t sure why I was there. My legs moved on their own. I looked up and tried to measure how many Me’s it would take to measure up to the top. It didn’t look like a very far drop from where I stood on the ground. My legs moved again. They ignored the stairs. Instead, they circled around and around, passing the empty parking spots until I was finally at the top, completely exposed to the open sky. I think they were stalling for time. I’m not sure. I reached the rails. I climbed over. My knee, the only thing guarding me from the fall.

We’re caught up now. For a moment, no thoughts cross my mind. I feel empty. The wind blows around me. I inhale and my lungs intake so much air like they’re afraid they won’t ever breathe again. A new emotion swarms me. I can’t do it. I climb back over, slide to the floor, hold my head and scream. I scream so hard and loud, my throat hurts. Now, I really have nowhere to go. NO ESCAPE. The only route I could take, I didn’t have the guts to do it.

TRUTH AND LIES. Truth and lies. Truth and lies… Everything blurs. God is silent. God is good. God is always present. God is working. There is redemption. There’s no relief. God messed up when he created me. God is working all things for his glory. I still have faith. I’m too broken to be saved. I hate the world. I love people. Jesus died for me. Jesus loves me. He pursues me. He left me…

How real is heaven…

Wait. Wait. Wait. WHY. WHY. WHY.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer – Romans 12:12

My story wasn’t meant to end today.

When there’s no relief.

There’s a difference between feeling like your circumstances are hopeless and allowing the delusion to consume you. It’s not just a feeling anymore. It becomes your reality. And whenever this happens, I’m ready to give anything to escape. I don’t want to deal. I can’t. I’d give everything I have (even if I once believed it was good) to not feel, to not care, to NOT HURT. I’ll be stubborn if I want. I’ll shut people out because I feel defensive like there’s something I have to protect from them. I’ll morph into a whole different being.

A friend called me a Punk. It’s probably a good word for it. I get difficult and cryptic and I talk back a lot, lot more. And honestly, it kind of sucks to be my friend. Maybe it’s the cynic side that wants to show them how hard it is to care for someone. I make it hard for them almost instinctively. And there’s the part of not wanting to sound crazy. I rather they see the logical me, the side that has something figure out that makes sense. They can’t handle the messiness. They won’t know what to do with the me that only feels but can’t connect those feelings to thoughts. So let’s shut them all out, my head says. It’s much easier.

The Wrestle. I haven’t slept for days?… a week, maybe? I lost track of time. I have naps. An hour or two. But that’s not sleeping. I wouldn’t even consider it rest. I twisted in my blanket and banged my head against the bed frame. I prayed for hours. I begged. I cried. I called out to Him night after night. I read chapters and chapters of scripture. I worshiped and sang. I asked for brothers/sisters to preach me truth. I repented. I laid it all down. And I was met with silence.

Everything hurt. My chest, my head, my eyes, my soul. Everything. And I wished it made sense. But it didn’t. I curled up and wallowed for a while before the weight on my chest got so heavy I had to run. So I did. I ran outside for a long, long time but the physical exertion only gave me dehydration. I ran away in my mind, but nothing could distract me for more than a few minutes. The poking and prodding only got more painful. As Augustus Waters kept saying before he died in that sad, sad book, “Pain. It demands to be felt.”

“He has broken my teeth with gravel;

he has trampled me in the dust.

I have been deprived of peace;

I have forgotten what prosperity is.

So I say, ‘My splendor is gone

And all that I had hoped from the Lord.’ ” – Lamentations 3:16-18

Then it was Sunday and I found myself making a long journey in the heat again, blasting praise music through my earphones, the lyrics contradictory to the stirrings in my head and in my heart. As I trudged along, I wept and pleaded. I begged him to cut me off. Please, please, PLEASE oh God. Why me, WHY ME? Why did you choose me?! Why save me? Why put these stirrings in my heart?! It was better when you were far! It was better when I felt nothing. It was better when I was empty.

My feet hurt. My head throbbed. My throat was croaky and dry. I was done. Done with it all. Take me out of community. Take me out of this journey. I don’t want to walk the walk of faith. Take me out of my drowning.

By evening, I was laying in bed again and making the same decision over and over. I’M LEAVING ALL THIS! I’M DONE! And yet, as I kept making the decision to leave, I couldn’t actually let anything go. The weight got heavier and I was trapped. Then suddenly, I was in the car with Maurice and Greg, pouring it all out. So much for “take me out of community”…

“I don’t want it. I don’t want it. I don’t want it! If I could, I would tear open my chest and rip my heart out and stomp on it! I want it gone. Cut me off. Cut me off. CUT ME OFF!”

Greg: “You know it wouldn’t be better if he did because there’s a place with more suffering than this.”

 Head Knowledge. My mind, to some degree, can wrap around the idea that “it’s okay to not be okay”. That in the mist of not okay-ness is where we find God. That it seems like God is far and that, in the end, will lead us to lay everything, all our sin and hurt, down at his feet.

Lessons: God never said you wouldn’t suffer in this life. God doesn’t promise to lift every ailment, boo boo, or affliction you have (even if you cry to him a million times over). Sometimes, you have to suffer. He needs you to wrestle. He needs you to endure. He’s needs you to go through the trials and the pain so you can be molded.

“See I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” – Isaiah 48:10

But does that always translate? Do I always, at every second, hold onto things I know to be true? And just because I know dark times are coming, does that make me well prepared for the trials? Sadly and shamefully, I say, No. I’m so human. I’m always ready to throw in the towel because sometimes things feel too hard and I begin to question… Is it worth it?

Remember the sacrifice. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus broke down too.

“ ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little father, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ ” – Matthew 26:38-39

 It must have been the worse feeling. The most horrific pain. You didn’t want it. And yet, you endured and bore it all for me.

I’m watching everything through a bubble.

I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot outside the food/tea place we said we’d all meet at. It was 10:30 pm. We’d just finished climbing and everyone drove their separate cars. They were already inside and I’ve been parked for about 20 minutes. I couldn’t go in. I didn’t want to… but I did. I remember asking myself, why aren’t you going in? More sitting. More waiting. But for what? It’s not like I had an answer to my own question.

It dawned on me that only an hour ago I was laughing, joking, and socializing like a normal, happy human being. And even though nothing in particular happened within that one hour, besides the 10-minute drive down the street to the tea place, I found my mood had made a complete 180. I felt sad, anxious, and burdened. My head felt heavy on my shoulders yet it was void of any coherent thought. I didn’t believe I could go inside and smile. I couldn’t see myself being social or laughing. I imagined myself walking in, hesitant and gloomy, and I was afraid that everyone could see it. Or worse, not notice it at all. More time passed in silence as I stared out at the lot, my friends’ cars sitting stationary and scattered.

A buzzing went off. A jolt of appreciation and relief struck me. Deep breath. Slide to answer.

“Where are you?”

“Outside. In the car,” I replied.

“Okay.”

A minute passed and then he was sitting in the passenger seat next to me. He knew. His face said it. But not in the worried or you-need-to-get-help kind of way. No urgency, no pressure, no awkward silence, and no contorted thinking-about-the-right-thing-to-say face. Calm and un-worrying, but still observant. That’s what I like about Greg. He can know that something is wrong but he still treats me like I’m perfectly normal. I don’t feel crazy.

“Come inside. Don’t worry, it’s low pressure in there.” Fine

Deep breath. He was right. I was quiet for the most part, but I talked well enough. My insides churned and I felt sick, but on the outside I was fine. And that was all I wanted to achieve when I walked in. To act and look and BE perfectly sane, even if nothing I felt made sense. It was weird. I heard every word that came out of their mouths, but it sounded both muffled and clear, and a little too loud. And even though I was sitting at the table with them, barely 6 inches away from the closest person, it still felt like I was separate. I don’t mean in an outcast-ish or I-don’t-belong kind of way. It was like I was there, but stuck in a bubble. I was watching everybody through some translucent film that made me both present and separate. I can see and I can hear and I can talk, but the experience of it all was just a little bit off.

Fast forward a couple hoursEveryone walks off to their cars to go home. I’m about to open my door when Greg gets in from the passenger side. Maurice and I exchanged a look before him and everyone else drove off. I get in.

“I think you have anxiety and depression.”

I don’t say anything. Do I believe him? I think back to the panic attack at Ben’s house and the small scaled ones through the following week. I concluded that the culprit was stress. But maybe not… I didn’t think this would be a chronic thing. I’m not crazy and I don’t want to be depressed. Depression isn’t for me, I told myself. If I have to, I’ll force myself to be HAPPY – that’s who I want to be so I’ll just be that. I’ll talk loud and laugh and joke! Yes, I can do that. I’ve been doing it my whole life!

Yet, I didn’t shake my head or argue with him like I usually would have if some other person tried to point it out. I just listened quietly and nodded my head here and there while Greg went on to recount his experience with depression.

“I’m not saying you have to rush to get help. Take your time with this.”

I nodded again.

Time… Friend and Foe. I can drag time on for as long as I want but I can never escape it. It’s been almost 2 months since my first panic attack and about a month and a half since that conversation with Greg. I’ve been coasting since then. But time catches up.

Last night was the first time these words ever came out of my mouth: I have depression. Funny how it takes weeks of frustration and insomnia to finally get the words out of me. I don’t really know where I’m at with this now, but I think I’m starting to see things a little more clearly.

Month 5

My day-to-day, my friends, my conversations, my relationship, my face; they seem so different. I’m different. How far I’ve come in the last 5 months… Let’s recap:

Occupation/Calling

It’s been a little over a month since I quit that full-time job after those panic attacks. I’m starting to wonder if it was a mistake. Mostly because I feel like a burden to my parents. But when I think hard about it, I know it wasn’t a mistake. Things would probably be worse if I had stayed there. Even though I’ve only started my Graduate School apps about 3 weeks ago, I feel like I’m not progressing fast enough. But I’m practically finished with them. Just one more letter of recommendation and paying the app fee and I’m good! Still, I don’t know how I’ll feel about the waiting game after that. Hoping for the best.

This season is a lot about trusting God about my calling and my finances. If there’s anybody that actually struggles with having too much time on their hands, that’s me. My friends think I’m ridiculous. Enjoy the freedom while you can – they say. And I think I do. Most of my days consist of climbing, cafes, and hikes with Bear (my husky), things that I was too tired to enjoy several months earlier. Lots to pray about but as long as I trust in God, I know he’ll give me direction.

Serving / Community

It’s been 5 months since I walked through the doors of Renew Church. What a turbulent half year of re-encountering God, fearing rejection, fighting cynism, building amazingly deep and edifying friendships, struggling to love hard to love people, and being so much more aware of the scars I inflict on myself and others.

ServiceI’m officially on Host Team! The entire month of April, I’ve been running around trying to learn how to set up stuff, trying to remember how to spell everyone’s name, and greeting every person that walks by me. It’s tiring and stressful, mostly because I’m stretching my extrovert muscle more than I have in a while. But I’m enjoying it. Finally serving in the church has been a blessing for the most part and I’m glad. I don’t know if this means that I’ve decided to make Renew MY church. I told myself I’d give it 6 months before I make my final decision. I love it there, but there’s still some doubt in my mind that I rather not get into here. Either way, I rather be serving God’s kingdom than not.

Growth. Ever since Maurice introduced me to A Praying Life, I’ve been talking more and more with God. It’s done wonders for my prayer life. I pray about everything. I thank him for everything. I still yell and scream like a dumb little child, throwing tantrums about stupid problems equivalent to not getting a cookie before dinner or dropping an ice cream cone before the first lick. But nonetheless, I’m lifting my life up. Every conversation I have with anybody, I pray. I pray to not say stupid things, to be encouraging, to be loving, to be truthful. I pray to leave people better than they were before the conversation. Okay… Maybe not EVERY conversation. I didn’t in a phone call I had last night… and now I’m thinking it probably would have gone better if I did pray…. But let’s not get into that. The damage is done and if anything, I think I’m more scarred by it than the other person is. I could be wrong. It’s not like I can read hearts.

Community. It’s a double-edged sword. They matter to me. A LOT… More than I thought they would. I love it and hate it. They bring me so much joy. I’ve been fed fat with these soul spurring conversations, crazy laughter, too many hangouts, and watching them live their God-given lives. I love getting to know them. I love being a part of their story. But, the closer I get, the higher the risks. Heartache . Fear . Scars . It’s undeniable that we feel more hurt from the people we love than by the random strangers that deal you insults, cut you off on the road, or hate you for no reason. It stings because we care. If cynic Kelley had it her way, she wouldn’t care for people. She wouldn’t love or want to be loved by her community. She would be perfectly content loving herself. But a Kelley that has her eyes and mind set on Christ could want nothing more than to have a sacrificial and unconditional love for her community… An infinite emotional capacity to care.

And it hurts so much…. It’s as if my senses are all heightened. Underneath the facade of fun, of friendship, of unity, I can see and feel the cracks of disunity. I find people worn out and burdened. I see people becoming passive about their issues with each other, holding onto pride, holding onto anger, holding onto anything but the truth. I feel the hurt that isn’t healing. I hear logic that is illogical. The discontent is brewing. The me that wants to be passive, that wants to hold onto my pride because I’m a little self-righteous, that doesn’t want to be the bigger person, wishes so badly that I was once again a cynic. It would be so much easier. Some have gotten a taste this salty beast and it’s not very pretty. People are hard. They are imperfect. Actually, worse than imperfect. They are sinners. I’m a sinner. God does a lot of good with us. But sin does a lot of bad too, and it’s usually a scarring kind of bad.

I want to leave as little scars as possible. Hurt as little as possible. But I find myself always failing, always discouraging, and always inflicting some kind of damage, intentional or not… Can I love my community and be humble enough to not hurt it?

 

Yesterday was my birthday…

Yesterday was my birthday. And as much as I love my birthday, because I love myself and because there is a conceited, self-centered monster trapped behind bars in the dark depths of my mind, my birthday is always to say the least, stressful. Sometimes I think that I would have a lot less worry if I just plan to spend my birthday watching movies by myself and eating chips. Maybe even treating myself to a nice $12 seat in a greasy theater and big screens. But then I’d be just that: BY MYSELF.

But to not make plans means that I will spend my time thinking, and thinking on my birthday means counting how many people I think might actually care that I’ve made it another year. That I’m still alive and breathing. How many people find my existence significant and meaningful. How self-centered is that? The monster bangs its claws against the steel cage and rattles the bars. As introverted as I believe I am, I still enjoy people.

I’ve been pretty lucky. I’m rarely disappointed. My friends, old and new, are awesome. And even though I know they are awesome, I still catch myself feeling surprised that they would grace me with their presence on my birthday. I felt a mixture of gratitude and embarrassment when I walked into Lazy Dog with a large table of people yelling surprise. I didn’t know how to thank everyone or what to say, and I only wanted to laugh at myself because just 30 minutes before I was at the bouldering place asking people if they wanted to eat at Lazy Dog when apparently they already knew they were going to be there. Then there was cake, someone bought me a birthday martini, and just a lot of thank you’s and small talk everywhere. And even though I love gifts, I think I value that so much more. The presence of people who want to be there and them having intentional talks, good food, and a chill time.

There’s no doubt that I’ll feel the same anxiety every year, that my birth, in the grand scheme of the universe, is small and insignificant (which it is). That to celebrate it would be pointless to anybody including myself. I’ll struggle with self-love and acceptance which are things I wish I didn’t care about because I don’t want to have expectations. To expect things is to be selfish. To be selfish is to think I’m bigger than the world. And when I’m humbled and deflated, shrinking back to the human size I’m supposed to be, I will feel disheartened. Sometimes it’s hard to protect myself from a big head.