Hiding the Lows

Sometimes even in a space full of other humans, we can find a way to hide our deepest pain or feel so unseen in our broken pieces. It’s like we treat the lows as some deep dark secret that even those closest to us can’t see. So we plaster on those fake smiles so that our deep sadness is tucked safely behind them. We do our best to fade into the crowd and not be seen. What would others think if our thoughts were heard out loud. If they could feel what we’re feeling, how would they get through it? Why do we find comfort in hiding the lows? We believe that were protecting those we love from our pain. It is okay to not hide the lows, it’s okay to invite those we trust into those moments. You nor I have to walk through those moments alone. I know it seems best to hide when we’re struggling with a low but, if you feel strong enough to reach out to your safe people, please do it…..please.

One thing I struggle with is feeling ashamed of being in a low place when I’m having a hard time. How do you tell someone your sad but you don’t completely understand why? How do you bare the dark night that is happening within your soul? Those are questions I asked myself a lot. Sometimes I found myself choosing to try and walk through it alone. My walking through it alone looked a lot like crying downstairs, or in the shower so no one saw me. I did a lot of avoiding eye contact with people I love dearly. I found myself slowly withdrawing from hanging out with others. I thought I was hiding it but the truth is they knew I was struggling but didn’t know how to help. I believe my hiding it from them made them more uncomfortable reaching out to me.

I wanted to believe I wasn’t alone but the lies of the enemy felt so real. Those lies felt like my truth. You know how it feels when your spiraling down and you feel as if you can’t grasp on to anything of truth. This might be hard to hear and believe but Jesus is right there. We can never hide the low moments from him. He sees them, he feels them and rather you care to believe it or not; he truly understands them. He knows the thoughts you are having, those thoughts that you are ashamed to even voice. The thoughts of ending it all, stoping the pain but leaving those who love you in more pain than you could ever imagine in that moment. Moments no matter how long they feel are only temporary. Those moments are not permanent…..they do change.

I want to encourage you as I encourage myself that there is no shame in reaching out for help in the low moments. There is no shame in admitting that you need prayer or someone to be accountable to in those moments. I actually benefit from checking in with my safe people that never judge the struggle but they just walk with me through those moments praying for me all along the way. We’re going to get through the lows because Jesus is with us. Jesus loves us so much. I believe that his heart is turned towards us in a deeper way in those moments. Don’t be afraid to let him in to those moments. I’m grateful for your presence here. I don’t take it lightly that you would read my words. My hope and prayer is that you will find strength and courage to keep going. I hope you feel less alone.

Father I pray for the one reading these words. I pray that they will feel your presence and know that they are not alone. I pray that they will feel you with them and know that they are surrounded by your overwhelming love. Give them strength for the journey and fill them with your overwhelming peace. In Jesus name. Amen

Medication or Not

I must admit that this can be a touchy subject for many. Everyone has their own opinion as it relates to taking medication for mental health struggles. You have some people who shame others for needing medication, you have those who are totally for taking medication for mental health needs and then you have those who feel like it’s a complete lack of faith or a weakness because you do. I guess you can say, there we are in the middle left with the decision to take meds to support our mental health or suffer in silence if we choose not to. I believe the decision to take meds is a individual decision that only the person and those they invite into that decision making process can make. Only you know in fact what you need to help support you with your mental health. Sometimes we may choose to go to therapy and work through the issues that might be causing the struggle and we need meds to keep us in a good place as we work through those things. In such cases your seeing a therapist who will probably teach you tools to help as well as taking meds. I am truly proud of you for realizing what you need to help you remain mentally healthy. I want to share my story with you in hopes that it will encourage you and make you feel less alone.

This is a photo of me a few years ago on my lunch break in my car crying. I must tell you that this was a very vulnerable moment and I never take photos of myself like this. This particular day I felt like I needed to take a photo to mark this moment because I knew change was all around me. I’ve had countless moments like this where the deep sadness felt like it would drown me. Many moments I felt like I couldn’t breathe the sadness was so deep and painful. The tears many times turned into sobs and thoughts of suicide felt like a comfort soothing blanket. Have you ever been there where suicide ideation felt more like a way out than a permanent solution to what might be a temporary emotion. I will tell you this, in those moments they feel endless rather than temporary. The desperation is real. I’ve been on and off medication countless times. I would take it and feel better then decide I didn’t need it anymore. For those of you who have experienced this you know the downward struggle is real and painful. I finally came to a place that in that season of my life I needed the help of medication to be able to process traumatic events from my childhood. I often times say that medication stands between your emotions and your overwhelming emotions and cause them to be manageable. Medication for some is the answer and for others it might not be. I believe what is most vital that we do what is most beneficial for staying mentally healthy.

“The taking of medication is not a sin but the judgement surrounding it is”.

Lora Terry

This quote really struck me when I first read it. I could not stop pondering it, because yes medication is good , but making sure that were not medicating symptoms of a greater issue is also something to consider. Hear me closely with this….. medication can not take away the effects of traumatic events in our lives. It will take some level of talk therapy. The power of voicing your story and sorting through the emotions attached to it can be very healing. I believe therapist create safe spaces where we can voice our stories and do the work to heal in a safe non judgemental space. I still believe though there are times in order to get to that place we need medication. What I hoped to do with this post was to help you feel understood. I oftentimes felt so misunderstood when I would try to talk about the internal struggle I had with medication. The struggle that made me feel powerless. After really processing the struggle, I realized that I was allowing others opinions about medication, faith and the church to cause shame for me surrounding taking my meds. We should never make others feels ashamed of getting the help they need. If anything we should applaud them.

In closing, I want to remind you that you are amazing, you are strong. To take medication or not is an individual decision. I believe that you have to gather all the information you need in order to make an informed decision about your mental health. Gathering the information might look like having a conversation with your primary doctor. In that conversation share openly about the symptoms you are having. Gathering information might look like making an appointment with a therapist and sharing openly(there’s that word again😉) about what is happening in your world and the symptoms you might be experiencing. In those conversations, they will share their thoughts about what it might be, they might even suggest you see a psychiatrist. Now remember, you are only gathering information to make the best decision concerning your mental health. At the end of the day, the decision is yours to make. Thank you for sharing this space with me. I value your presence here💚.

Boundaries and My Mental Health

I could not fathom how much putting boundaries in place to protect my mental health would change so much inside of me. It was almost as if those boundaries gave me permission to protect my healing. I needed to set up boundaries around what was not mentally healthy for me. All environments are not mentally healthy for you, though they may be good for others, does not make it mentally safe for you. I am learning that not every relationship is mentally safe for me. Safe relationships for others does not negate the fact that they are toxic for your mental health. It’s okay to say no to that invitation, or to not answer that phone call or respond to that text. The more you establish boundaries to keep you mentally healthy the stronger you will become. I sometimes take inventory about my feelings and emotions after I spend time with certain people. I notice how I feel after I come out of certain environments and then I decide what boundaries need to be in place to keep me mentally safe. It might be something as simple as limiting my time in that space or refusing to partake in certain conversations. You have a right to protect yourself and you deserve it. Good boundaries are a great form of self love.

            The word boundary is not a derogatory term. It is not a word we should avoid using in our vocabulary. It also is not a word we should throw around lightly with no intentions of enforcing them. Right now, take a moment and think…….what is one boundary you have in place to protect your mental health space? Do you actually enforce it? How does it make you feel when you do? Consider the benefits you have reaped from having that boundary to protect your mental health space? I personally believe healthy enforced boundaries help to support our mental health in ways we have not even experienced fully yet. When was the last time you said No to something to protect you mentally? Having boundaries in place even with our family is healthy as well. I know this  is hard to believe but, there are family members that we can only take in small doses in order to protect our mental space. I know you love your family and close friends but that doesn’t mean long periods of time with them is good for your mental health.  Sometimes you leave them and your exhausted emotionally. Sometimes you leave them and mentally you feel all over the place. It is okay for you to leave that environment to stay mentally safe and healthy. You are worth protecting and if boundaries protect you from spiraling downward mentally, then they are worth having and even more valuable to enforce.

Now, I must tell you that setting up boundaries is so much more easier than enforcing them. We have to get rid of the idea that having boundaries will offend people or hurt them. We have to get out of the thinking that they won’t like us if we say no, I’m sorry I can’t do that. You can say no without any explanation. You just have to believe that your worthy of protecting. Did you know that repeatedly enforcing your boundaries makes it easier every time. The first time you do it might feel very uncomfortable but remember, it is a act of love for yourself when you do. To continue to enforce your boundaries is a continued act of love for yourself and your mental health. Boundaries are not put in place to hurt others or keep people out but they are put in place to limit access to you where you don’t feel safe. To be honest though, enforcing your boundaries may keep certain people out, it might even hurt some people but keep in mind that is not your intentions. Your intentions are to protect your mental health as much as you possibly can.

So, in closing this post, I would love to hear how boundaries have protected your mental health space. I would love to hear about boundaries you intend to put in place and how you plan to enforce them. Let me tell you, I am still on this journey of putting boundaries in place. I’ve learned that the more I enforce them the more I feel empowered to say No, that just doesn’t work for my mental health. The more I do it, I feel less guilty about saying No. I noticed that I do less thinking about how I might have made them feel with my boundary and more thinking about how I made myself feel about enforcing them. I might not know you but I know the struggle of putting boundaries in place. I know the way I’ve felt before realizing that I needed boundaries surrounding what I allow to affect my mental health. I know how empowered I feel when I find the courage to say No. A friend once told me that, “No, is a complete sentence”. You will want to remember that as you start this journey. Thank you for showing up in this space to read my words. I truly do not take it lightly and I honor your presence here. I believe in you.

God Can Hear You

      I cannot began to tell you the many times I have thought I was at my lowest and cried out to God, but I honestly thought he could not hear me. I thought that from the place I was at, there is no way God hears my cries and lets me stay there. My thoughts were, if he could hear me then why won’t he change me, why doesn’t he heal the sadness or stop the intrusive thoughts that keep sending me in this downward spiral. I remember countless times crying out to him but all I could say was ,”Help me”, there were no words to express what my heart felt inside, I could not find words to articulate how desperate I felt in that moment for God to step into my circumstances and fix me. I wanted him to fix the racing thoughts, fix the sadness, fix the isolation, fix the sleepless night….I wanted God to fix me. Something had to be broke inside my heart, inside my mind, inside my life that nothing seemed to be able to fix. I wanted the creator to fix what he made because there had to be a defect. There had to be something he miscalculated when he created me. The truth is in those moments where these words tumbled out of my mouth…..Jesus heard me. I will go even further to say not only did he hear me, he saw me and he felt me. Jesus had not abandoned me in my moment of desperation he was right there. I must admit that every single moment I found myself crying out to Jesus, he truly did help me. I see now looking back how he helped me walk through those dark moments. I see now how he held my mind safe in his hands. I see now how he helped me fight the thoughts of suicide with his power and strength. Jesus is right there, he has got you. 

     

      Anxiety and depression can be scary. I know the feelings of sadness and it seem like people want you to explain why you feel that way. I notice that people need an explanation for the sadness. You can’t just be struggling, there has got to be a deeper reason. You just can’t be crying through the night, just because your depressed. You have everything and your still sad, what in the world could be wrong. You are a believer, you hold a title in your church, for God sake you are always serving at church, how can you be dealing with this? When others can’t understand depression and anxiety, it’s difficult for them to support you in a healthy way. It might take you using your voice to explain as much as you can about your struggle. You will need to shape their views as to how they can support you . Oftentimes people say very hurtful things simply because they just don’t understand. We through sharing our struggles can help others understand. Despite all of that, I want you to know that God hears you and me when we cry out to him. We don’t have to pretend or say certain words to get his attention. God desires to hear from us. He wants to hear what we have to say, he hears our cries even when we have no words left and we only have tears, he hears that unspoken language of our hearts. You know those moments when the pain is so real, so raw , so palpable but you don’t have the language to express it, it just hurts. God hears you. Our pain is important to him. Our struggle is important to him. Your not just screaming into empty space and not being heard….that seemingly empty space is filled with the sweet presence of Jesus. I have to remind myself that I’m not alone because he is with me.

      As I find courage to share different parts of my story, I hope it gives you courage to trust that your story is valuable and important as well. The more we can share our stories, the more we can educate others about mental health struggles and how they can support our community. I share my story along with my faith. It has been my faith in Jesus along with medication at times, therapy, my love ones support, support from friends that has been so much help to me finding a healthier place. Do I still struggle?…..YES , but I keep fighting, I keep believing and trusting that because Jesus hears me, he is helping me and if he is helping me…. together we win.

Lord Jesus help me to trust that when I cry out to you that you always hear me. Lord help me to rest in your love for me. I trust that you are always with me no matter what. Thank you Lord for your love.

Amen