It Takes Courage to have Balance

balance

I have been thinking a lot about balance lately.  Being diagnosed with Bi-Polar almost 2 years ago now, has definitely been a learning and growing process.  I used to just try to be Super Woman all the time.  I would throw more and more things on my plate and if someone asked me to do something else, I couldn’t say no (can you say mania? haha).  If my plate was loaded and I had no extra seconds in the day then I wouldn’t have to deal with the down side of my life.  I would try to stay so busy that I didn’t have time to think about it.

I was always running way faster than I had the strength to do.  I was afraid, yes afraid, of what might happen if I let my guard down for half a second.  Where would I be?  How would things work out?  If I didn’t do it, who would etc., etc….. And then I crashed…. and it wasn’t pretty or fun for me or my family or anyone else.  It was scary and foreign and something that unfortunately, would happen again.  Luckily, not too often, but I have had to go through that process several times.  And it has definitely been a learning and growing process.  Finally being diagnosed (and accepting that diagnosis), was a major step forward for me.  And I giant leap towards achieving balance in my life.

One of the things that I have realized about Bi-Polar and, it makes sense really, is that you have to maintain a pretty steady balance.  You don’t want too get to far to the high, energetic, motivational, hyper, side.  And yet you want to stay away from the low, depressed, bored, emotional side.  And apparently, from my experience it takes a lot of courage to do that.  Especially in today’s world of social media mania!  It’s crazy how we are programmed to think, through social media, that we have to do all, be all, make all, spend all, and not drive ourselves crazy while doing it.  Because…. everybody is doing  it right?  So why shouldn’t we?

I have to think about this from a Bi-Polar stand point.  But as I examined it more closely, I realized that it is not just a Bi-Polar problem.  Yes, it is a bit harder for me to find my balance and stay there, and medication is required.  However, you can be completely normal (not mentally ill, lol) to suffer from this “condition” of having to overload your plate and not have any down time.  But down time is good! It is really, really good! Haha, who knew?  I was so busy trying to stay busy that I didn’t even know how to do down time!

That’s where the courage comes in! That may sound trite, but it’s true.  If you are so busy all the time and you never make time for down time.  Or you feel like you have to be a certain way to be “enough”.  Then being thrown into a whole new way of life that just doesn’t feel “right”, that takes a lot of courage.  So then, to not be thrown in to it, and to stop looking around at others and what they are doing, to try and gauge what your life should look like, well that takes courage too.  To let the calm be ok.  To be able to “be still” and be ok with that.  That takes courage!  And what we find therein is the “balance”.  We have to have down time to match the busy.  We have to have calm to recognize the crazy and that’s hard sometimes.  But so necessary to maintaining or finding a balance in our lives.

I guess you could say that I have grown to love this new me.  It’s a lot different from the old one.  And sometimes I feel a little uncomfortable in my own skin.  But I’m definitely liking the feeling of being “enough”.  Crazy that it took a mental illness to make me feel complete.  The Lord works in mysterious ways.  And sometimes we just need to trust that he knows what he’s doing and “be still”.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 

For as the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts, than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9 

courage

Feed my Sheep

Feed My Sheep

Over and over again this thought has come to my mind in the last month.  I will pray and ask God, “Is there anything you would have me do or know?”  And inevitably the answer comes “Feed My Sheep”.  So of course it has been at the forefront of my mind, wondering exactly how he wants me to “Feed his Sheep”.   And then I walked into church on Sunday and wouldn’t you know it,  there were little sheep everywhere, lol.  Not real sheep of course, but the decorations that we had for our special Mother’s Day lesson was entitled, you guessed it, “Feed my Sheep”.    Super cute too!  You know how those mormon women like to decorate for everything, haha!

Anyway, that made me think that I am certainly not the only one that is feeling that prodding and poking to share the word of God with others.  I suppose that is what all of this means.  That He wants us to share his word with all that we come into contact with.   So how do we do that?

Certainly much of what we do is by example.  Matthew 8:14-16 reads:

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

If we are to look at our children or children that we come into contact with through various means, how do they learn?  How do they grow?  It is by watching those who have gone before them.  Learning their way from those who have already learned.   That is why we grow up in a family unit, go to school, or to church, or are drawn to others.  It is because of that urgency to learn more, to grow, to experience life. We can not learn all things all at once.  we teach the way our Father taught us, it is ... line upon line, precept upon precept.  Here a little and there a little.  Isaiah 28: 10 . 

And again we read in 2 Nephi 28:30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little;  

This is how God wants us to teach and this is how God wants us to learn.

Another way that we “Feed his Sheep”  is through love.  President Thomas S. Monson taught “As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”  

When a lawyer asked Jesus which of the commandments was the greatest, He could have chosen any of the many commandments from the Old Testament, from the law of Moses, or from the Ten Commandments. Instead, He summarized all of the commandments in these two:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  “This is the first and great commandment.  “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” Matthew 22:37–39).

I remember a time when I had a newborn son in the NICU.  It was grueling days at the hospital, hoping to see signs of improvement.  I had 3 other children that had to be cared for at home.  But all I wanted to do was be with my newborn son and comfort and love on him.  I wanted him to come home with me.  Every day I would plead with the Lord to make my son whole so that I could bring him home.  He only spent 12 days there, but that gave me a whole new appreciation for those that spend weeks and months there.  It is not an easy feat by any means.  However, I was shown so much love through that experience.

I will never forget those who took my children so I could be at the hospital, or the many meals that were brought in so I didn’t have to worry about dinner.  Or the church members that came to the rescue and gave priesthood blessings when it didn’t look like he was going to make it.  But one of the acts of kindness and love, I remember the most was probably one of the smallest, but it meant so much to me.

One of my neighbors brought an Easter Lily and left it on my porch.  It was not in bloom yet… maybe just one or two were blooming.  But she had left the kindest note and mentioned that maybe each day when I got home another bloom would be out, reminding me that it is the small steps that my son was making each day that would get him home.  She said, “by the time these Easter Lilies are in full bloom, maybe he will get to come home.”  It meant so much to me that she put some thought into something so small, but that would come to mean so much to me over the years.  He did come home (he’s 22 now!) and the Easter Lilies were in full bloom and it was glorious.  The smell of them always reminds me of that time in my life when I thought my world was spinning out of control.  But it was one of his faithful servants just … responding with love and kindness to whatever came her way.   To this day, I still LOVE Easter Lilies!

 These are not the only ways, for there are many, many ways that we can love, serve, and teach others.  But know that the smallest act of love are a symbol of the love that we have for God.  John 21:15-17 

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Remember that most of the ways that we “Feed his Sheep” are by the small and seemingly insignificant acts, like the Easter Lily, that help someone feel loved, cared for and appreciated.  I hope that today you will find a way to… respond with love and kindness to whatever comes your way.

 

Feeling the Love of God more Abundantly

I’ve recently been studying about Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice, which has brought many feelings to the surface and helped me to recognize the importance of His grace in my life.  I was awakened at 4:30 this morning with thoughts about feeling God’s love more abundantly in my life.  I’ve felt the guidance of the Savior’s hand in my life lately as never before, and have felt the undeniable promptings to put it in writing.  He says:

Matthew 11-30;  28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.                     

I know that the Savior leads us along and wants us to have a voice and be strong and help gather his children back to him.  So in that spirit, I am striving to be a diligent servant and share His word through my personal experiences, and hopefully it will help someone out there who may be experiencing something similar.  Or who maybe just need a little lift in their day.

I had a dream recently that really gave me pause.  I was riding in a car with my husband and it was a blizzard outside.  We could barely see the road because of the wind and snow falling.  We were on a canyon road that was a mountain on one side and a drop off on the other.  I could see that we were dangerously close to the cliff.  Suddenly the car began to swerve and I could see that we were going to slide off the road.  There was nothing that we could do.  I remember feeling so helpless as I looked to my husband and saw the same look on his face.  I was thinking “Is this how it is all going to end for us?”

As we slid off the cliff and started falling, I was astounded as I looked to the left, to see a large hand glowing white, come around the the front bumper of the car.  It was a huge hand that engulfed the whole left side of the car.  And then as I glanced to the right I saw another huge glowing white hand (I can’t really say glowing, it was more like on fire), brighter than you can imagine.   I definitely knew in my minds eye, that it was God’s hands coming around the car to shield us from the impending crash.  I remember being astonished at the strength and comfort that seeing those hands, brought to me.  I could see that we were going to crash.  But I could also see that we were going to be surrounded in the arms of his love and in some way protected from the inevitable damage that would take place.  Then, just as the hands came around us, we began to hit the trees… and that’s when I woke up.

This past year and a half has been especially difficult for us.  You can read some about it here.  When I told my husband about my dream he said, “well we did kind of go off a cliff!” And even though I laughed when he said it, I knew he was right.  I had been praying and pleading with the Lord to help us find a way out of the situation that we have been in.  We like to joke that we were on a bicycle built for two with our arms spread out wide, the wind blowing in our hair,  just coasting along.  And then someone took a stick and put it in the spokes and we came to a sudden stop and went flying over the top!

For months and months we both pleaded with the Lord for guidance and direction. I feel like this dream came to me to remind me that even though we experience REALLY TOUGH things in our lives, He is always there to protect us when we go off the cliff and hit the trees.   We still fall, we still hit the trees, but his loving arms surround us….2 Nephi 15:25; but his hand is stretched out still, no matter what we are experiencing in our lives.

Through this experience we have seen many miracles.  We have felt the spirit lead and guide us.  It has changed who we are.  And it has strengthened our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our Savior felt it all when he suffered for us in Gethsemane, He suffered the unimaginable so that we would be able to one day return to our loving Father in Heaven.  I am so grateful that I have been able to feel His love, grace and mercy in my life more abundantly.  It has been rough, bumpy and uphill climb but when we are growing the road is always uphill!

We still aren’t out of the woods, in fact some days I feel like we are still sitting in the crashed car saying “what just happened?” But I am constantly reminded of the love that our Heavenly Father has for us if we will just reach out for it!  Therein lies the secret.  Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. We have to be the ones to reach out to Him.  He stands at the door and knocks but we must open the door and let him in.

It is my prayer that we can take his yoke upon us and learn of him so that we can better handle the situations that are thrown at us each and every day.  John 14:6; For he is the way the truth and the life!

Living with Bi Polar

It’s been over a year since I was admitted to the hospital, in a full on Manic Episode mode. Several days later, I was diagnosed for the second time with Bipolar Disorder. I say for the second time, because I had been diagnosed 10 years earlier, in a similar, but less severe state of manic episode. However, when all was said and done, I couldn’t accept the diagnosis. I told myself and everyone else that it was a stress related reaction. And I convinced my doctor to believe that theory. She knew my history… it was stress, or depression, or just overdoing it, (or maybe she just wanted to believe that theory too). I didn’t want to admit that I was broken. I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t normal (whatever that is). And so I lived with this silent monster in my life for all those years, on the wrong medication. A medication that would finally take me to the brink, with my second and more severe manic episode, which would then lead to a second diagnosis and to me finally admitting that yes, I am Bipolar.  And yes, I do have a mental illness.

It’s taken over a year (plus 10 years) for me to be able to talk about this openly. But I know that there are so many people that suffer silently. So many people that may not even know that BiPolar Disorder is what they have. Or like me, maybe they are just lying to themselves about the reality of it in their life. Nobody wants to be broken. Nobody wants to admit that they need medication to make them “normal”. But the reality is that we need to start talking about it. We need to share our experiences with mental illness, so that we can help each other and our loved ones understand these horrible disorders. And that there is hope. There is a path to wholeness again. We must not be afraid to take it. The Lord said…I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” Ether 12:26

It’s taken over a year (plus 10 years) to find the right medications, and it’s still a work in progress because our bodies are ever changing.  But I feel so blessed to have found a Dr. who from the get-go, understood what a hard diagnosis this is to accept, and wouldn’t let me NOT accept it.  A doctor who has helped me work through it,  and listened to me and really knows about mental illness and how to treat it.  I feel like that was divine intervention and I’ll have to share the story about how I found him, sometime, but not today.  Today I just wanted to say, this is where I am in my life right now.  This is why I have not been as active on social media over the past several months.  But it’s time!  It’s time for me to put myself out there… even though it’s scary and I risk having to undergo the judgement of imperfect people.  But this is not for those people.  This is for the people like myself, who suffer in silence. The people who feel broken or not “normal”.  This is for them and their loved ones.  Hopefully we can help each other.  Give each other a voice.  Russell M. Nelson said in the 2015 October conference in his address “A Plea to my sisters“, “… we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous…. women who teach fearlessly.”

It’s been over a year, and today I am speaking from my heart and mind, full of faith, hoping that the breadth of my influence can help others who are going through what I have been through or a similar mental illness.  I will try to post a couple times a month to talk about this disorder and how I am learning to live with it.  I even have videos of myself (that my husband took as a documentary of that time), that I could possibly share at some point.  I watched them before I sat down to write this and I cried, because some days… many days, I still feel broken.  But I’ve realized, it’s ok to feel broken.