Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Guilt is the driving force of depression!

"Guilt is the driving force for depression." my counselor said to me last week.
"What?" I said. "Can you say that again so I can write it down?"

She repeated it and I wrote it down. It was such a profound statement for me that I had to hear it again and I had to write it down so I wouldn't forget. This statement summarized my entire life. I conditioned myself into depression at the age of 44. When I heard that it opened a door for me that I felt I could actually climb out. 

I am doing really really good.....mentally. Physically I am very over weight and I feel very uncomfortable....BUT....that is OK. I am being very gentle on myself in that area. There is NO WAY I would have been able to stick to a healthy eating  pattern and loose weight in my condition just two weeks ago. I was way to debilitated mentally. 

I understand now why people go through "midlife crisis." Your 40s are truly the mid point of your existence. Its the point where you have lived about half of your life and you are able to reflect back at all the good....the bad...the ugly...the sad...the regret...and then turn all that around and from there you have two choices. You can look at the past and all the regret and pain and decide that you couldn't possibly recover from it and live the next 40 years in that same pain and guilt and regret....OR.....you can view the past as a sort of shaping of who you were really meant to be and use it as a stepping stone to help others and most importantly take your existence up a notch and be the best human being that you were meant to be. I always knew I was not meant to live an ordinary mediocre life. I knew that I was meant for greatness. That may not mean that I will be famous or rich...it simply means that I can and will achieve greatness within myself. I do not have to live in the past....but I can live with the story of the past as my tool to greatness. 

The past week has been absolutely wonderful for me. I don't know who or what to give the credit to. Literally two weeks ago I could barely function. My head was heavy, my brain was foggy, I had almost no energy and no hope for the future. I was getting prescriptions from the doctor to help solve it but the medicines made me feel worse. So, I decided to pray. I did it....I prayed and asked God to please help me. I told him I was incapable of living this life on my own and I was sick and I needed help. I also started taking a BUNCH of natural supplements and stopped taking any prescription medication. I am NOT eating healthy all the time yet and that is why my body is still puffy and im not loosing weight but my mental health is FANTASTIC!! I have energy, I have hope, I can dream again and set goals. Who do I credit that too? Ill credit it all to God because he gave us the knowledge for the supplements....but don't get me wrong....I am NOT about to embrace Christianity again....but I can pray. Thats simple enough for me. 

 I find that I am still very erratic in my decision making. I don't like this part of myself. I heard one life give a lecture on the "stories we tell ourself." She said that when we feel sad its because of a story we told ourself, if we are anxious then its because of a story we tell ourself. In essence, we tell ourself these stories and it triggers a feeling. We basically have the ability to control our emotions based on the stories we tell ourselves. It sounds complicated but its really not. I started really paying attention to what I was telling myself, particularly when I would have an anxious moment or a guilt ridden moment. What I found was the stories I was telling myself were completely irrational. For instance, If I couldn't go visit a family member that I promised I would go see I would start to feel guilty after I told them I couldn't come. The guilt came pretty strong and to combat that I would start to think of ways I could make up for my lack by maybe baking some banana bread and dropping it off at there house or crocheting a couple dishrags and dropping it off. I felt so bad that I didnt visit and I thought that maybe they wouldn't like me anymore so I would have to do stuff to make up for it. The stories I would play in my head is that they wouldn't like me anymore because I didnt visit. This was the irrational part and completely not true but my brain couldn't comprehend that.....until now. I have dealt with this sort of guilt for ALL my life. Now that I am able to sit back and listen to the stories I am telling myself when I feel guilty or sad or anxious, I can stop the cycle right in its tracks and put myself on a better path. I hope to learn soon how to completely let go of all the guilt and anxiety wrapped up in these stories I tell myself but it will take practice. 

I have said all of this because as much as I want to loose this extra 50-60 pounds I have gained, it can not be done until I fix the inside first. Loosing weight is more emotional than physical. I know this because if you have followed me for awhile you remember that I lost 135 pounds all on my own.

I am excited to be back loosing weight. Its soon. I know it is....I am so close to being ready. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Mental Health Update

I might as well been a pastors kid growing up. We were in church enough times per week to qualify me as a pastors kid. I went to youth group with the actual pastors kids and attended the same church for years. It was part of my being...part of who I was. I didn't really have a life or a social life outside of church. Everything I was taught at home and at church matched and it presented me with what I thought was a pretty steady life. I didn't know any different. I took on all that I was taught at church as gold and because my personality is such that I have a very black or white thinking...everything I learned and absorbed was truth. 

One of the things I learned from Christianity is the principle to "always choose joy." This is not a bad principle. We should always look for the good in things, to always try and be positive. But it went further for me. I felt that as a Christian if I were not happy all the time then I wasn't putting Jesus first and I wasn't "casting all my cares on him," well enough. I always wanted to be the best christian and I never wanted to be seen as week so I always presented myself as happy. I wanted those around me to be happy and I didnt want to put a burden on anyone so I just created my personality to be spunky and always smiled despite what I was feeling inside. I felt that religion looked down on depression or sadness and as Christians we should be able to conquer our downward moods with Jesus and prayer and Bible reading. So my life became a series of stories of me never really knowing how I felt inside. It didnt matter how I felt because I just had to be happy. Thats what Christians did. In fact I even felt that depression was not really a real thing. I thought that people that claimed to be depressed were just maybe being lazy and that they just needed to choose joy and trust in Jesus. In fact, I avoided people that were sad. I didnt know how to handle them. What they said they were experiencing didnt make sense to me. If we were Christians then we had an unlimited supply of joy and we just needed to tap into it. This was a very judgmental way of thinking for me but I did not think that way intentionally, I was just taught to think this way through the preaching at church and the personal relationships I had with christian mentors. Mental illness, to me, was made up. 

Fast forward to 2019. I was married to my third husband and in year six of our marriage I started having bouts of vertigo. I felt like my body was very heavy. If I stood up I would feel very unbalanced and my head would feel like it was falling forward and my body felt like it was sinking into the ground. I also started having feelings as if maybe I had a deadly illness and contemplated what it would be like if I didnt exist. As soon as I had the feelings of "not existing" I realized that I had a problem. I chalked it up to being in a bad environment and moved to Arizona. 

Unfortunately because I did not understand mental illness and essentially thought it didnt exist I did not take the appropriate steps to treat it, its back in full force. 

Nobody ever told me that depression was real. And nobody told me that your depression could start showing up as physical symptoms that are quite debilitating. 

Life has a way of teaching you lessons. I never meant to be judgmental towards people but I was. I was never mean to anyone but I do remember telling people that they just need to "trust Jesus" or choose to be happy. I told people that being happy was a decision and they just needed to decide to be happy. NOW I KNOW THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE. You can not tell someone who is in the depths of depression to CHOOSE to be happy. It doesn't work like that. I am extremely saddend that I became such an insensitive Bible thumper christian. I am so sad that I wasn't taught that sometimes as humans we get sad and we don't have to be happy all the time. Im grieving for all the people that feel like I feel right now. There is now way, in my current state, that I can snap my fingers and "feel happy!" My depression has taken over my body and I have no control. I have never in my life felt like I had no hope, no energy, and no motivation. The worst symptom is the feeling of sinking into the ground and having my head feel wobbly all the time. This is absolutely my body presenting psychosomatic symptoms and I am shocked that because I didnt know or recognize it that it has gone this far. 

Its hard to say this right now but I have so much empathy and compassion for those with depression...and I could have never said that before in my previous religious way of thinking. I understand how real depression is now and I understand that it isn't anything anyone makes up but I also do know that I am capable of pulling myself out of this. Its not easy but here are the steps I am taking to get healthy again. 

I avoided medication for months. The doctor would prescribe them to me and I would fill the prescription and never take them. About a week ago when my symptoms were at there worst and I could barely work I decided to go ahead and start taking Zoloft. I am on day five of this pill. 

I also started a regimen of supplements. I am taking B12, Vitamin D, Fish oil, biotin, and magnesium. I can not tell you how these supplements with the zoloft have helped. Yesterday morning for a split second, from somewhere deep deep inside of me I felt what felt like a little bit of excitement or euphoria. It lasted for just a second and It almost brought me to tears because I remembered that feeling and I missed it. I want it back all the time. 

If I had any advise for anyone going through trama. I have had a lifetime of trauma. There have been no breaks for me, three divorces, adoption, abuse...you name it. If you go through anything like this please get support. Do not ignore your body, it will talk to you and your body knows best. Its ok to be sad but make sure you do not ignore how you feel. 

I am super grateful for anyone who reads this blog. I look ever day to see if I have any viewers. Somehow it makes me not feel so alone to know that others are out there interested in my story. I love you all!

Rebekah 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Tattoos and Amazon fails...



For the past few years, as I have discovered my own individuality, I discovered that there were  no more religious rules on me and I could decorate my body however I wanted to. I discovered that getting tattoos was so much fun. I felt empowered and pretty. My latest tattoos are beautiful butterflies all the way across my chest and they are encompassed by two big flowers on the sides of both of my shoulders. I LOVE them. After I had them all done my mission was to find shirts that would modestly show them off. I searched everywhere for off the shoulder shirts. I went to Walmart and Walmart and Walmart again. I know that sounds silly but literally the only clothing stores in my small little town are Walmart and Ross. Its really quite boring. I did venture out onto the internet and searched Kohls and I found nothing. I decided to give Amazon a try. There were not many to choose from but I did find one that I thought was simply stunning and fit my style perfectly. I ordered this beautiful off the shoulder shirt a month and a half ago. It was literally coming from China so I would have to put my patience pants on and wait for it. And wait I did. Here is what it was supposed to look like.
I couldn't wait to get it. I even ordered a strapless bra...and let me tell you that alone was no easy task. Getting these girls to stay up without straps was going to take some finagling....literally!!
I was so so excited when it finally came in the mail one month and one week later. I tore open the package and....before I was even able to try it on I knew it was NOT like the picture. It was stiff and the material was a bit shiny. I could already tell I was going to be disappointed. Never the less, a try on had to be had...so I put it on. I was less than impressed. Of course there were going to be some differences right? The picture above was a skinny blond girl with amazing legs, wearing shorts that I could have only pulled off when I was 12 and of course my boobs are much bigger then the girl in the picture, sigh, but I had hoped I would look halfway decent in it. But I didnt. Instead I felt like my body was not made to fit into this shirt. I felt like I was wearing a sort of mumu with bat wings. So disappointing. 
I emailed amazon and asked if I could return it. To my surprise they said they would refund me and I could keep this AMAZING shirt for my wearing pleasure. Oh my!!!! So I got a free shirt. But not on purpose. Is it a blessing in disguise? LOL I think not. 
I present to you....the way the shirt ACTUALLY looks on an average girl....




Thursday, July 16, 2020

Wavering faith

I used to pray all the time. My days were consumed with connecting with God. I was always on the prowl to find whoever needed Jesus. I would be witnessing all the time...day and night. It was my mission, my passion, my reason for living. Jesus was my role model and God was my father. I grew up in this religious atmosphere. There was no other way to live for me; however, I was always ALWAYS falling short of what I knew the Bible and God and Jesus expected of me. I was having sex before marriage, smoking cigarettes sometimes, and drinking alcohol. I wasn't praying for an hour a day because It was hard on me to find time in the day to shower and eat being a single mom....but I tried to be THE BEST christian I could be.

When I was growing up in the church the message from the pulpit was always centered around how we needed to be a better christian and the only way to do that was to spend tons of time in the Bible (at least an hour a day) and to not cuss or drink or smoke or fornicate and to spread the good news to everyone I met. I believed with my whole being that this was absolutely the way I needed to live. Looking back at this upbringing and the messages being handed down to me from the pulpit I can see that it bred into me feelings of dislike for myself. No matter how hard I tried I could not meet these perfect expectations that I felt were expected of me by God, Jesus, my pastor, and my parents and christian friends. I began to battle with myself. I always had good intentions but it would never fail that I would let myself down. It could be something as simple as reading my bible in bed before sleeping and falling asleep before I was able to get the full hour of reading and prayer in like my pastor encouraged his congregation to do. When I would wake up in the morning and realize I had fallen asleep it would be the start of lots of repentance for my sins and ultimately lots and lots of guilt. I began to not like myself. I felt that I was the only one falling short of what was expected of a good christian. As I got older and started to struggle with other sins the feelings of shame and guilt just got stronger and stronger until I did began to medicate with cigarettes and some alcohol and sex with men. Of course this type of "medication" only proved to make me more disappointed in myself and the shame and guilt ran deep. I didn't think Jesus and God were happy with me. I knew that they would "never leave me or forsake me," (WHATEVER THAT MEANT) but I still knew that I needed to get my life right with God or I would not make it to heaven or if I did make it to heaven I would not have many rewards stored up for me. This may sound crazy to a lot of you but it is my truth and something I struggle with to this very day. Even this very night I feel like I am not a good enough mom and I am just falling deeper and deeper into this unsuccessful life.

About 3 years ago I made a HUGE decision to divorce religion. Thats right, you read that right....I divorced my religion. When I was growing up I heard from the pulpit CONSTANTLY that we were not religious but just in a "relationship" with Jesus. So I convinced myself for years and years that I was not religious. This was so far from the truth but I just didnt know any better. In the pentecostal/Baptist/non-denominational religions you are told constantly that your not really religious but just in a relationship. This could not be further from the truth. When I made the decision to divorce my religion I did it because I could no longer try and reach these expectations that were being put on me. I finally realized that I was never going to be this perfect christian. So I stopped witnessing, and I stopped reading the Bible and I started really digging into why I believed what I believed instead of just believing what other people told me. It was very eye opening. I learned so many things about the Bible and where it came from and how it came to actually be a Bible and who put it together. In some ways it was good that I was discovering the roots of this religion I had followed all my life but in other ways the information I was learning was really really sad for me. I felt very let down. I had to discard most of everything I knew and start from the beginning.

I still do not have it all figured out. I have put countless hours into research of God and Heaven and Near death experiences. Ive compared stories of people that have died and gone to heaven. I have spoken in person with people that have died and gone to heaven and come back to earth to tell about it and my mind was literally blown (if a mind can actually blow....Im not sure LOL). But this did put a huge rift in everything I believed.

I still believe in God. I don't necessarily believe that is his name because WE HUMANS gave him that name. To me he is bigger and different then the Bible portrays him. I still have trouble connecting with this God. I remember begging God on my hands and knees to please talk to me in a voice I could hear. I couldn't understand why he wouldn't just speak to me. I didnt want a "still small voice," I wanted a loud audible voice to speak to me. I felt I was worthy to hear something. After all I had spent ALL of my life pursuing this God....trying to reach him through my actions and love and prayers. But no.....not a single word.

This post is not to bash faith and Christianity...but I felt reflective tonight as I was looking at the shape of my life right now and just sorting out the pieces of my heart and trying to figure out what I am doing with myself right now. I actually thought that maybe if I reconnected with god that maybe I would gain some clarity. It has happened for me in the past. That is why I have not lost my faith that there is a higher being somewhere that cares about me. So I am not denouncing God....but actually wondering why Ive had to go through the things I have gone through and why do I have to be so confused? I am almost 45 years old. I would have expected to be settled by now and have a few things figured out....but I don't. I know I am not the only one with this story. I think its just the cycle of life. We all question our upbringing, but I think I dive a little deeper then some people. I question more than most and I don't settle for a mediocre life that seems to want to over take me. I want more...I want extraordinary. I think its possible.

Going Orange

I love that in life, one single thing can change the way you think about things and turn your life down a completely different path then you expected. I love to be on a schedule. Mornings are my favorite and if I am working or if I am not working, I like to be up by five or six and enjoy the quiet crispness of the morning. Its my time, before anyone else in the house wakes up, to just be with me. This habit was probably developed over the years because I have so many children and usually married. In my last marriage we had seven children, two dogs, two giant birds and two cats at one time, and I was the only one who enjoyed the mornings. You wouldn't catch anyone up at five am, just me, and I loved it.
So that habit has stuck.

This morning I woke up at five am as usual and reflected on the past month or so that I have been unemployed by choice. Its been a good time to catch up with myself and just decide what I want in life. Did I figure it all out yet? NOPE! But Im closer. My therapist called me last night. I have not met with her yet. I am brand new to her practice but she wanted to check in with me and just tell me that she was looking forward to meeting with me in a week and a half and then she asked if I had any immediate needs. Oh my goodness...I really had to try hard not to spew all my emotions on her. Instead, I told her that I was struggling with boundaries with my family. I was hired on with Home Depot yesterday, YEP THATS RIGHT, IM GOING ORANGE, and now that I am working I will have to spend less time at my grandmas house helping out with her care. It was hard for me to set boundaries with my family. We do not have any outside help with my grandmas 24 hour care. My commitment to my family is that I would get up early in the morning and head to my grandmas at six and get her out of bed, changed, and fed for the day. I would then go home and spend time with my son, and go back in the evening and get her changed and back into bed. There commitment was to be with grandma throughout the day. My boundaries were that I would not be able to help out on the days I worked. For my own mental health and for the sake of my son, I felt it would be to much to keep my morning and evening commitment on the days I work. I told the therapist that I didnt feel like my family was happy with my decision to not help out when I worked and that I was struggling with THINKING that they didnt like me anymore or they were not pleased with me. (In case you haven't guessed, I need therapy pretty bad, I am a people pleaser). I could tell that my therapist had limited time but she gave me some homework. She said that each time I have those guilty thoughts, I need to write them down in my journal and the thought surrounding them. Ok, no problem, that was easy because I journal. She then told me to go onto Youtube and look up "distorted thinking," or "cognitive thinking" and watch some videos on that and we would talk about these things on in our first session. I thanked her and went right to it. I was shocked to find myself in every single one of the list these you tubers were giving. Just to fill you in on the basics of what I learned about myself. Here is the definition of cognitive distortions:

Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn't really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions-telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves."

This is really the definition of what my life has been. I didnt know that I had these broken ways of thinking and its probably the reason I can not seem to get my life going in a productive path. It was very enlightening and I can not wait to do some work surrounding this broken thought pattern in my life. Its amazing what five minutes with a professional can do.

So today is my first day at home depot. I start in about an hour and fifteen minutes. My position will be a cashier and I couldn't be more thrilled about it. Its only part time but that works perfect for me since I might be homeschooling my son if COVID doesn't figure itself out. 😾

Until next time friends.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Mental health and other things...

Hello Friends,
Ill be posting over on my other blog. Here is my latest post.

Much love,
Rebekah

https://www.blogger.com/u/1/blogger.g?blogID=2932348263117273521&useLegacyBlogger=true#allposts

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A thousand words...

A picture is worth a thousand words right? I came across this picture on my Facebook "memories." I'm sure you know what I am talking about. Facebook has this thing it does lately. It brings to your attention a memory from the past in hopes you will repost it. That's not such a great thing for me. My Facebook "memories" don't exactly bring back warm fuzzy feelings for me. As you can see from this picture it's me and my oldest son Matt. This picture was taken not long after I let both my girls go. My oldest daughter was angry at me for giving her youngest brother up for adoption. You can see in the background of this picture on my refrigerator. On my refrigerator I have displayed my youngest son with his mom and dad. They are extremely happy and just starting to build their wonderful family through adoption. My oldest daughter, like I said, was extremely angry at me for many reasons I cannot explain here, and asked to go live with her grandparents. In my weak mental state I allowed her to go. My second oldest daughter had started to rebel and asked me one day if she can go live with her dad. This caused me a lot of grief and sorrow. I knew she didn't belong to me, and I knew that her dad would except her with open arms.again, in my mentally weakens  state from all the drama in my life, I let her go. 

I let my girls go but I still had my boys. I held on to them as long as I could but... Matthew, the one scene in the picture below also became very angry with me and wanted to leave. I said no to him for many years until I couldn't say no to him you know longer and let him leave to live with his father. 

My oldest daughter lives on her own, but lucky for me, she lives in the same town as I do. Victoria and Matt still live with their dad. They are thriving and happy and doing extremely well. I miss them so much and when I see pictures on Facebook of me and them, I cry and cry. I did not have children to be separated from them. Divorce is horrible, distructive, and sad. I don't know if I will ever recover from the sadness in my life. Hopefully, I'll figure it all out soon.