facing my fear

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Now that the mental fog of my week and a half of plumb craziness has lifted, I have words again. (I think my husband would argue that I had words all along; they just didn’t make much sense for awhile.) I had a bit of regret over publishing the last post, but at the same time, I don’t particularly want to forget how terrible I felt. One of the things that I lost after my first severe bout with this illness was the realization of how bad it actually was. I kind of want to remember that part. It helps me keep perspective.

I think perhaps the most difficult part of the past couple weeks has been the exposure of one of my deepest fears. The fear that all of this - my family, my health, my stability, my sanityj - will come crashing down. Particularly, I fear not just that I would lose all of those things, but that it would be my fault. That I will be the one who destroys my family and my home, who falls into terrible life choices or loses her mind or loses her health. That I will ruin the lives of everyone around me.

Perhaps it’s just that we have such exposure to families in utter destruction. Perhaps it’s that I realize that my own brokenness could easily take me to that place if I allowed it. Perhaps it’s just the continual reminder of my own physical frailty (not that I’m that much more frail than others, just that our bodies do not always function as God intended) that makes me fearful. I guess it doesn’t really matter why. Facing our deepest fears is a tricky business.

The thing these past two weeks reminded me of, however, is that grace is enough. Even if I would destroy my family and my health through my own choices, God can cover that. He is big enough. Even if all of this life that I live would be taken away because of disease or accident or even death, God is big enough for that too. His grace is sufficient even for that. My family will make it. My husband will make it. Even if I fall off the deep end, I can make it too.

We are surrounded by those who love us. Beyond the pharmaceutical assistance to get past the worst of the anxiety, I’ve been carried by the support of my friends and family: tangible grace in my life.

It’s long conversations with my sister-in-law, just hashing out the worst of my feelings and symptoms, being willing to accept her offer to drive an hour just to help me deal during the hard parts (even though ended up not being necessary), and knowing she holds me up in prayer.

It’s a sweet friend who understands chronic illness, who can encourage me to trust my body, and who just becomes the presence of Jesus to me.

It’s a cousin who calls long-distance (long-distance. is that a thing still?) unexpectedly to just let me know she’s praying.

It’s another friend who is praying Scripture, the very Word of life, over me and my family.

It’s a healing practitioner who does the same thing during our sessions.

It’s my mama who encourages me to do what needs to be done to maintain until we can figure out what’s going on for sure.

It’s just sheer grace, all of it.

So, now that I’m thinking more clearly and the emotional symptoms are largely gone, I’m left with the certainty that my body is not functioning the way it should and the uncertainty of what the next step should be. Even though the fear is still there, I will not be overcome. I can trust. I can rest. I can fall on grace. It’s gonna be alright.

 

 

-Want to read more about others’ deepest fears? Check out this brilliant series over at Momastery: Sacred Scared. We all win when we admit life is messy and often hard, and we’re all just doing this whole thing together. Everybody’s got stuff. Let’s be grace to one another.

calm my anxious heart

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

One of the most difficult aspects of battling a chronic autoimmune disease, particularly ones involving the thyroid, is the mental struggle. Grave’s Disease carries with it a significant risk towards depression, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, and other mental hang-ups. Chronic disease is insidious, and sometimes when it’s worming its way through your system, you feel nearly overwhelmed by the depth of it.

For me, the mental part has been the symptom that I fight least often, but when those things do come, they come with a force that is both completely unexpected and completely shattering. Which is what’s happened to me over the past week. I went from being a little suspicious that my thyroid levels were not regulated to battling an anxiety and obsessive thought process that I have not felt since the early days of fighting Grave’s Disease.

Mental illness is just not something we typically talk about with any kind of real vulnerability or honesty. While mine is not a traditional mental illness, but rather mental symptoms with a physical cause, from what I can gather, the net result is the same. The way it takes over every part of your life, makes you feel so out of control, and the resulting guilt from the effects that you know your mental state is having on your family…that stuff is all the same.

I’m functioning, but I feel like I’m functioning on the edge. This probably isn’t noticeable to anybody but my family and closest friends. I doubt the people sitting beside me at church or on the bleachers at my son’s basketball game or the ones who talk to me in waiting rooms know that it takes nearly all of my strength to just sit there still when I feel like I want to jump out of my skin. I obsessively clench my hands to help diffuse the tension. My eating is wonky, I have intense hot flashes, I can’t sleep. I obsess about things that are wrong and or that even just might be wrong. I can’t focus, I can’t complete tasks easily, and I cry nearly all of the time. Also? I am hateful to my family. I literally cannot control how irritable I am. It’s that stuff that becomes the worst part. The part that makes you believe it’s a moral failing. That you’re a bad person. That if you were just more self-disciplined or more like Jesus or just more….that you could get past this on your own.

This isn’t a complaint post. This is an explanation post. It’s both a reminder and a confession. Vulnerability comes hard for me sometimes, and this particular issue makes me feel like the lowest of the low. It’s embarrassing, and as much as I don’t like to admit it, it’s partly embarrassing because of how I refuse to consider these things about others. I don’t know what burdens people bear. I get irritated before I give the benefit of the doubt. I judge when instead I should always show mercy. I am not the person that I hope others would be towards me.

This post is the hardest thing I’ve done in a very long time, but I need to write it out. At a time when writing comes so difficult for me, I need to put my words to page. To release some of the anxiety through shaky thyroid-tremor fingers while the experience is fresh. If I wait, I’ll forget. I’ll excuse and rationalize my way out of the full extent of my symptoms.

This week they’ll draw my blood yet again as they’ve done every eight weeks for the last eight months or so. My meds will be adjusted accordingly, and in a couple weeks, I’ll probably start to feel better. In the meantime, I do yoga, drink my weight in hot tea, and try every possible herb that may help. I pray. I sing. I cry. I hope beyond hope that my children do not remember these days when they’re older.

So if I’m not writing often, now you know why. If I flush when I see you, partly that’s my illness, partly that’s my shame. If you have a loved one that battles a chronic disease, then please remember this story and show a little compassion. It’s harder than you think, and the worst thing about it is that it never goes away. Thankfully, I know I don’t have to live in this place for long. I know even if anxiety is my constant friend, if obsessive thinking is never far from me, even in that I can find joy and peace. Because He who promised is faithful, and I know His promises.

Tonight, I’m clinging to the promise that my soul finds rest in God alone. The promise that He is faithful even in the struggle. The promise that His power is made perfect in my weakness. The promise that I am never abandoned or destroyed, and no matter how bruised, I will not be crushed. The promise of healing, even though that healing will almost assuredly come at the hands of traditional medicine. All of His promises are Yes and Amen in Christ Jesus, and tonight, I say Yes. Amen.

what I’m into-January 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

what I read:
I finally finished Allegiant – Veronica Roth, and I didn’t hate it like people said I might. I mean, it was a little boring, I think it read much more like a prequel than the conclusion of a trilogy, but I still quite enjoyed this series.

I re-started an older series that I hadn’t finished – The Book of Mortals – where I left off at the second book: Mortal – Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee. I was amused to see how much of the storyline echoed the Divergent books. The setting is different, but the similarities in basic plot background are strikingly similar.

I’ve used Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours for my daily prayers for a couple years now, but this year, I’m mixing it up a bit and switching back to Common Prayer – Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. Major plus: The noon and evening readings are the same everyday. I find that comforting. The thing I really wish was different: I miss the Scriptures being printed with the day’s prayers. I hate having to look them up separately and too often find myself skipping that part.

I am in the middle of Jesus Feminist – Sarah Bessey, and I am savoring every last word of it. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this later, but it is just beautiful. I’ve cried, used my highlighter more than is really necessary, and just treasured the truths that Sarah so lovingly writes about. Plus, I’ve learned a couple things too, and I do so love to learn while I read.

Other books I read: When Helping Hurts – Steve Corbett and Brian Fikert, Dinner: A Love Story – Jenny Rosenstrach, The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, 2001-2014

 

what I listened to:

Mostly old stuff. Except for Switchfoot’s new album, Fading West, which I think is…ok. It just hasn’t struck me as very interesting yet. I enjoy it and am continuing to listen to it, but I don’t think it’s the most remarkable album they’ve ever put out.

 

what I watched:

Praise be to Jesus, Community is back. More importantly, Dan Harmon is back. It is everything I hoped it would be, and every episode so far has been golden.

Rounding out the sitcom fun is Parks and Rec and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I have some fears about the loss of Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes…

Parenthood is back to the weepy episodes, I guess. I’ve spent entirely too much emotional energy thinking through this whole Joel-Julia thing. (spoilers if you’re not caught up. skip the rest of this paragraph.) What is up with Joel? No second chances? No discussion even? No excuses for Julia’s behavior, but geez. Could he just give her a break? I’ve been trying to put my finger on why this whole part of the storyline bugs me so much, and I think it’s just because they’ve written him as the very-best-husband-in-the-world-ever for so very long that this whole plotline seems a bit out of character for him.

In my spare time, of which there’s been quite a bit since I’ve been snowed in and single-parenting for many days this month, I’ve been rewatching Veronica Mars in prep for the movie. I loved Veronica Mars, and the year it was cancelled was a sad time for me. It holds up, so if you’re interested in a new show that ends terribly and abruptly due to an unfortunate cancellation, go ahead and watch it. Random trivia fact: the episode I watched the other night had Joss Whedon in it. As an actor. Weird, I know. (My love for Joss Whedon and my absolute commitment to anything that he puts on film is another post for another day.)

 

What did you read, watch, or listen to this month? Comment below!

Linking up with Leigh again. Want to expand your reading list? Visit the link-up! I keep my GoodReads page open while I read through the posts to add all the things I want to read next.

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