I’ve prayed and I’ve cried

I have been making a conscious effort to work on my relationship with Christ. I have been in the church my whole life, but have not done my best on working on my personal relationship with God. Chase Rice has a song called Jack Daniels and Jesus, in the song he says, “I’ve opened more bottles than I ever have my Bible.” I can say with all certainty that I have opened my Bible more than I ever have any bottles, but I can think of a lot of things I have done more than read and study God’s word.

I have been having a lot of conversations about God, the Sabbath, and what God wants for our lives. These discussions have made me realize that I have not been studying and reading God’s word enough. God desires us to study, read His word and come to him in prayer. We can’t leave our relationship with God in the pastor’s hands or just get what we need once a week at church. I know that God desires us to have a deeper connection with him and we do this by reading and studying His word.

If you are like me you have a tendency to neglect your relationship with God when things are going right, but call on him and cry out his name when your world is crumbling. While working on my relationship with God I’ve been able to gain clarity and find peace with many situations in my life. These past few months I’ve done a lot of soul searching and a lot of asking God why. I feel like I’ve prayed and cried more than I have in a long time and I’m coming to terms with decisions I’ve made in my life as well as how I will move forward.

Whatever you need to do, do it! Pray, cry, scream, take a vacation, but always keep God at the center.

John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Coping with Stress

I read a quote recently that said, “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” This is true in so many ways. Many of us do not know how to effectively cope with stress; I know I’m in that boat. Some of the negative ways we cope with stress is through Compulsive Spending, Emotional Eating, Self-Harm, Drugs, Alcohol, and Caffeine.

Compulsive Spending and Emotional Eating or in my case not eating are probably two of the negative ways I cope with stress the most. I like to shop whether I’m sad or happy so I definitely have a problem, but I do notice that when I am stressed, or sad or upset I’ll go buy myself a little something. I typically will buy candles, shoes, or a bag or two. I’ve recognized this behavior and tried to invest in stocks or do some research on stocks to counter this behavior.

Emotional Eating or not eating in my case is something that I struggle with. People will look at me and be like, “Oh you lost weight you must be exercising.” The reality of it is I’m probably not eating. When I’m stressed, sad, upset, or angry I lose my appetite and the thought of food just makes me want to throw up. This is probably one of the worst habits I’ve developed when it comes to coping with stress. It pains me to say this but I have recently found myself throwing up or dry heaving, which is something I never use to do. This is also the habit that I feel I have the least control over. I have tried to counter this by making sure if I do not eat I have a smoothie with some type of protein and nutrients. I also make myself snack on fruits and nuts to help get me through the day. I feel like throwing up or dry heaving is typically associated with some type of anxiety attack so I’ve started deep breathing. It might sound like something simple but it helps my mind focus on something else and has helped calm my nerves tremendously.

Self-Harm is probably the first negative coping mechanism that comes to mind for most people. For many people self-harm helps to release emotional pain or stress. Self-harm in my mind is more than causing visible physical injuries to your body. Self-harm can be using sex or pornography in a way that can hurt you or your partner. Self-harm can be not eating or over-eating, or pushing your body beyond its physical limits. I have coped with stress through self-harm and I know that might sound alarming, but it has not been in a way most people would think of. I will go out and exercise and push my body to its limits even though I haven’t eaten anything of substance in two days. When I push my body to its limits it seems like one of the few times that I have any type of relief from the hamster wheel my brain is on. Please don’t be like me. This is not something I recommend anyone do. I just want you to know where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. I recognize what my issues are and I’m addressing them; I wish nothing but the same for you.

Drugs, alcohol, and caffeine can also be harmful coping mechanisms. I know some of you may be surprised to see caffeine in the same category as drugs and alcohol, but I feel like it just provides a more acceptable “high”. I also had a run in with caffeine that made me feel as if I was on drugs. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and can improve your concentration as well as lessen fatigue, but these benefits are only temporary. I’ve always felt that too much of something can have a negative impact on your overall health. Caffeine is used as a crutch, it’s addictive and when you don’t have it the effects vanish causing you to want more. I’m obviously not an advocate of alcohol and drugs, but nor am I an advocate of caffeine. I’d just be leery of using caffeine to cope with stress or fatigue.

I don’t want anyone to feel pity for me. I share this information to let you know that you are not alone. God has equipped you with everything you need; read his word, pray, and practice effective coping mechanism and I have no doubt He will show up in your life in a mighty way. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your children, spouse, and other loved ones. You can’t pour into anyone from an empty glass.

No one is coming!

I have been working on my blog for three years now and the one thing I have struggle with is consistency. Over 20 post are saved in my draft. The content below has been in the draft for the past year because I’ve struggled with knowing when I’m sharing too much. I have been struggling with controlling my emotions since becoming a mother and dealing with Post Partum Depression (PPD). This blog is my passion project and I have always wanted it to be a safe place for me to bear my soul. If you are dealing with anxiety, depression, or any form of mental or emotional instability I want you to know you are not alone. I also want you to know that no one is coming to save you. You have to put in the work to heal.

I wrote the words italicized below almost a year ago. One thing I realized is that I have not done enough since I wrote those words to make sure I was in a better place. Recently a friend helped me realize that I have been looking for someone to save me, and the reality of life is that no one is coming. Yes, people can help you along the way and you should have a support system, but at the end of the day you put yourself in a better position by working on YOU daily.

When I was recently asked why I needed to go to therapy, resentment was one of the first words that came to mind. Now that I’m thinking more clearly I can better articulate what caused some of the anxiety attacks, pain in my chest, heart palpitations and ultimately what added to the negative space I was in. I’m still grasping for all the right words and all the emotions I felt but let’s start with resentment.

I resented a few people and held hate in my heart. I’m not exactly sure at what point I got there but once I arrived I didn’t know what to do with those feelings. I didn’t come to terms with any of my feelings prior to Scarlett’s birth. Therefore, when she got here and my hormones were fluctuating and those negative feelings and intrusive thoughts came back I struggled. It happened for me around the six or seven month mark. I can remember because that’s also when my hair started falling out. I felt alone. I was angry at the world, and uninterested in work.

I edited some of the post as to not over share, but almost a year later I’m in the same place. In many ways I know I am doing a lot better. I have come to terms with a lot of things, but I have not done the work I needed to do daily to really pull myself out of a negative mindset. My biggest take away is that instead of dealing with these emotions and coming to terms with them I looked for other outlets to mask what I was feeling. I’ve wanted someone to come into my life and make me happy. I have been waiting on someone to come in and fix me and everything going on around me. Writing it down and saying it out loud really makes it sound foolish, but that is where I was at for a long time. Putting your happiness into someone else and giving someone that much control over your life is only going to lead to pain and heartbreak. Friends, family, a partner can only do so much. A lot of times people don’t truly understand what you are going through and don’t know how to help. If you’ve been like me please stop looking for someone to save you. Your life is not a Hallmark Movie Special. Develop good habits; mediated, do yoga, exercise, work on your relationship with God, work on your relationship with yourself, watch how you talk to yourself. Your mindset and inner thoughts affect your day to day emotions.

I’d like to end this post by sharing two of my favorite Bible verses:

Matthew 6:25-34: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

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

Diseases of Despair

So many of us are struggling and suffering. Even before the Pandemic many of us were struggling. I recently read a report that said drug and alcohol misuse were up and so were suicides and suicidal behavior. Researchers call these conditions “diseases of despair.” The interesting thing to note with these diseases is that they are not strictly medical.

Many of us were initially thrilled to be working from home and have our lives slow down, but after a while people began to miss the day to day contact. More and more people began to get laid off, wages didn’t rise with inflation, community ties were cut, churches were closed, and people were forced to spend more time with each other; all of these factors can be linked to diseases of despair.

People have turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with feeling disconnected from family and friends, to deal with other forms of loneliness, health conditions, and mental health concerns. A pass time that many people have enjoyed has turned into a crutch in our society. I have always felt that if I needed to drink or smoke or do any drugs to escape from my reality than I needed to change my reality. I do not have the answers that will help people cope with diseases of despair but I do know it can’t be found at the bottom of a bottle or with any drug.

Benjamin Miller said, “Diseases of despair are driven by a multitude of factors, some of which our health care system can address, some they can’t. But our systems are ill-prepared for documenting, following-up and treating diseases of despair.” This is one of the many reasons I believe it is important to have a community around you to support you and be there for you while you are struggling. Hold on to relationships where you are valued, loved, and supported.

I want to encourage you to find healthy ways to cope. Alcohol and drugs are never and will never be effective coping mechanisms. Get outside, enjoy nature, exercise, eat healthy, and focus on the things you can control. In the state of mind I have been in over the past few years I knew that alcohol wouldn’t help and drugs never do. Find ways to address the underlying issues. Some of us may have no idea what those underlying issues are, or we may be in denial about what they are and that is why I encourage you to seek professional help.

Sources: US News, Diseases of Despair’ Skyrocket in America, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-11-10/diseases-of-despair-skyrocket-in-america. Accessed 24 October 2020.

Mental Health

I wrote the following in December of 2020.

I’m finally back with another Mental Health Monday! These past few months have been mentally and emotionally draining, and I know many of you feel the same way. I just pray that you have been taking care of your needs first. As someone who has struggled with Post Partum Depression I can’t stress enough the need to take care of yourself! I know when I’m not in a good place and/or my energy is off it creates tension in the house.

Selfcare these past few months has been a lot more than just a bubble bath and alone time. I’ve had to find ways to relieve stress and tension in my body. I’ve tried to be more consistent with working out, but I’ve failed miserably. As my therapist has helped me realize it’s okay to fall off the wagon as long as you keep getting up. I’m still a work in progress and probably will be for years to come.

It’s hard to believe that 10 months later I feel as if my emotional capacity has shrunk! Who knew that was even possible? I decided to stop going to my therapist because I felt as if she was no longer helping and I’d find another one. Fast forward to October of 2021 and I haven’t seen a therapist in about a year and I definitely feel like I need to. I have a horrible habit of bottling up my feelings until they explode. If nothing else therapy helped me with that. It was my weekly cry session and if I’m honest I always left feeling better.

If you are reading this I want you to know that you are not alone. A lot of people are struggling with their mental and emotional health. Just put your best foot forward on a daily basis. Developing daily habits and shifting your mindset can go a long way!