You are held

I promised that today I will be doing a little recap on what’s been happening with my mental health over the past several months.

Just to preface, I’ve learned so much these past few months, more than ever before, about how important it is to let go and give your burden over to the Lord. In Matthew 11:28-30 it reads

Come to Me, all ye that labour and our heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I’ve learned now more than ever, how much I can and should rely on the Lord and trust in Him. More than anyone, He knows me.  He knows my heart.  He knows my fears.  He knows the burdens that I carry.  And He really is the only one that can shoulder that burden like no one else.  He asks us to take His yoke upon us and let Him do the heavy lifting.  How much easier it will be for us if we trust Him enough to let Him carry us when we can not carry ourselves.

This experience that I had the last few months has been nothing compared to what I’ve been through before when dealing with bipolar.  But I have found that one of the most difficult parts of living with bipolar and being on the healthy side, is the fear of falling to the unhealthy side again.  It is such a dark and frightening place to be.  And there is so much trauma that can come to the surface because of being in that dark place. But sometimes we have to fall in order for the Lord to lift us up again.

When a loved one approaches you and says that things don’t seem right with you, it can be really devastating.  And there is a real part of you that doesn’t want to believe it for fear of ending up in the dark place again.  But that is when you really need to put your trust in those that know and care about you and especially in the Lord.

Sometimes the burden of living with bipolar becomes extremely heavy to bear.  Even when I’m healthy, I worry about becoming unhealthy.  I worry that my loved ones are always worried about me and watching my every move just to make sure I’m ok.  I hate more than anything for those that I love to worry about me.  So it’s become second nature for me to try to appear fine when deep down I may be struggling. 

Struggling with just the simple fact of being tired of carrying the burden itself.  Over the last few months for whatever reason, I was just really, really tired of carrying it.  And I would pray so many nights to Jesus that I was just so tired, please just take this away so I don’t need to worry anymore. 

And apparently, this whole time He was trying to teach me the way to ease my tiredness.  To let Him take my burden upon Him, even if just for a little while.

So when my husband approached me to discuss what he had seen in me over the last few months, it was really devastating to me.  Here I thought I was physically and mentally feeling better than I ever had.  And that I was doing great.  It was only in the recesses of my own mind that I gave way to my deeper feelings of how tired I was from constantly monitoring myself.

I was very, very emotional that night as we discussed the importance of checking in with my Doctor. I had the biggest knot in my stomach and felt physically ill. I was so scared that if we discussed it and there was an issue, then I would have to go into the deep rabbit hole of going through the process of trying to find a new medication.  The thought of that was a pure nightmare for me to think about.  

My husband offered to give me a priesthood blessing which I accepted.  He went to prepare himself for it and I went into the other room to plead with the Lord.  In that moment I realized that I had no control over the journey that the Lord had in store for me.  And something just broke inside of me.  I remember saying to Him that I was so scared of having to go into the dark place again.  I heard Him whisper to me, “Do you trust me?”  And I said back, “I do.”  And I heard it again, “Do you really trust me?”  and again I heard myself say that I did.  In fact I said, “I trust you so much that if going back to that dark place is part of my journey, I will do it.  I don’t want to do it.  But for you, to show you that I trust you, I will do it.”  And I meant it.  I really, really meant it. 

I went into the living room where my husband performed the blessing.  He laid his hands upon my head and started the blessing.  The first thing he said was “the Lord knows that you are tired of carrying this burden.  He wants you to have the courage to continue in this difficulty.”  And that’s when I knew that in this journey on Earth, this illness will always be a burden that I will carry.  But I don’t have to do it alone.  That He is there.  And He knows that I am tired.  He knows!  I hadn’t said those words to anyone but Him.  And that was Him telling me that He hears me. And He will help me to shoulder this burden if I will let Him. 

I don’t know how else to describe how I felt except that I felt so “held”.  That is the only word I could think of.  Like I was enveloped in a big warm hug. And I felt that way throughout the rest of that week as I prepared for my appointment with my Doctor. As I sat in his office and discussed our next moves I felt that the Lord was there being my rock to hold onto.  As I agreed to tweak my medication a little bit, I just felt so “held”.  

And I thought of His hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt of my affliction.  Those are the hands that held me in that moment, and let me know that it was all going to work out according to His will.  And I trusted Him more than I ever have in my life that I would be able to handle whatever was in store for me.  

Just to give you a little insight about me if you’re new to the podcast, I was diagnosed five years ago with Bipolar ll, after having 2 manic epsodes within two months that landed me in the hospital.  Although, I have suffered from depression for most of my adult life.  

Fifteen years ago I had my first mental breakdown.  At the time I wouldn’t accept the diagnosis and kind of set about to prove the Doctors wrong.  I was in denial and did not want to be labeled as “crazy”.  Because let’s face it, that’s what most people think of when the word bipolar is mentioned.  That word is tossed around so lightly these days as people talk about someone else’s behavior that they don’t understand.  And to be quite honest, it is really distressing and inconsiderate to those of us who have mental illnesses of any kind. 

Anyway, here is my timeline. I had suffered with what I thought was depression from the time my first child was born.  I had Postpartum depression.  And with each child it would get a little bit worse.  With my fourth and last child, I finally realized that it was time to talk to someone about it. I knew from my previous births that the depression usually did not subside for around 9 or more months after the baby was born.  I remember the therapist telling me after we had talked, that I had two choices. I could either take medication that would help me feel better within a few weeks or I could go ahead and wait it out and be miserable for the next several months.  Well, that was kind of no brainer for me. So I went ahead and went on the medication. 

Over the few years after that I jumped from medication to medication.  They would work for several months and then all of sudden I would be feeling horrible again. During that time I started researching alternate forms of medication.  I realized that there were so many other things that I could do on my own that would affect how I felt.  Such as working out, making sure my stress levels did not get too high, making sure I was getting good sleep and good nutrition, and so on.  So I started working towards that and slowly weaned myself off the medications for what I hoped would be forever.  And I was able to maintain that for probably around 4 or so years.  

But when you have a severe chemical imbalance, the chances of it coming to the surface again is quite likely, and may warrant medication.

I have mentioned before on the podcast that I do not discuss any of the medications that I have been on over the years because everyone’s body is different and what worked for me may or may not work for you and vice versa. I think that is a dangerous road to go down.  We each have so many different chemicals and hormones that affect how we respond. It’s so important to follow what your Dr. suggests and find something that works for your body.  I highly recommend if you have the funding or if your insurance will pay for it, that you get DNA testing to find out what your body is compatible with. I will discuss that in a few minutes.

Anyway,that breakdown 15 years ago, was what started me on the road to finding out what exactly was happening with my body. As I said I was in denial and did everything I could to prove that Bipolar was not what I had.

I went back to my nurse practitioner at the time, and explained what had happened.  She knew my history and from what I explained to her about what had happened, we both came to the conclusion that I just needed to get some sleep.  I had not been on any medication for the previous 4 or so years which I mentioned earlier, and didn’t believe that I would ever need it again. She put me on an anti-anxiety med that I would take as needed.  Just when I felt stressed or a little out of sorts.  It would calm me down and then I’d be ok. 

At my next yearly appointment I was feeling some depression setting in. I had read about a certain medication in a magazine that had helped someone else.  So she agreed and prescribed it for me.  I was on that medication for 10 years.  Clear up until my second breakdown (or manic episode) that landed me in the hospital. 

And that’s where things started to get super out of control.  If you want to read more about experiences that I had while trying to find the right meds you can go back to my post Living with Bipolar and several posts after that one.   

Luckily at that time I was referred to a great psychiatrist that told me right from the get go.  You have Bipolar ll, no arguing whether or not you have it. Apparently that’s a pretty common experience.  I wonder why?  With such a stigma about it, it’s no wonder that people don’t want to be labeled.

He said, “We are just going to work to get you better. It might take some time. But we are going to find out what “recipe” works best for you.”  It was actually so comforting to have someone finally take control of something that I could not.  And I also finally accepted the fact that I did indeed have Bipolar.  

But it wasn’t a death sentence… this would actually bring me back to who I really was, underneath the mask of Bipolar. He wouldn’t  put me back on that medication that had worked for 10 years because he said it was the wrong medication for my diagnosis and it would never work for me again.  

Over the next year we were able to find my recipe.  And once I did, I felt so much better than a year before when I was completely at my lowest point ever. So I never really questioned whether or not I could feel even better than I did.  I didn’t feel completely like myself as I had on the medication that I was on for 10 years.  But for me it was so much better than where I was a year before.  It was good enough. I did not have a DNA test with that Doctor.  He never suggested it, and I had never heard of it so there was no reason to do it.

I had my DNA testing done in 2019 when I was forced to change Psychiatrists because my current one was retiring.  The Doctor that I found (after doing my homework to find a good fit for me), recommended it.  I didn’t even know that such a thing existed and gladly said that I would. I had mine done through GeneSight Psychotropic and it is called Combinatorial pharmacogenomic test.  What it does, is tell you what drugs on the market today are highly compatible, somewhat compatible, and not at all compatible  with your individual DNA.  So it is very valuable information.

We did that at my second appointment with the new Doctor.  I was floored to find out that the medication that I had been on for 10 years (the one after my very first breakdown), was only moderately compatible with my body and the wrong medication entirely for my diagnosis.  It was for depression and what I needed was a mood stabilizer since my moods were either really high and things were going great or I would sink into a deep depression. Apparently my first Dr. was right. One of the reasons I will always push for anyone going through mental health issues to find a good psychiatrist.

We also discovered that the medication that I was currently taking was only moderately compatible with my DNA.  When we went over the report, my new Doctor suggested that eventually I might want to switch to one that was highly compatible for me.  Of course I had been feeling good for 4 years at that time and was pretty gun shy when it came to switching.  Why would I fix what was not broken?  So I would go to my regularly scheduled 3 month appointments over the next year and we would discuss it again and I always said, “no, I don’t want to mess with what I’ve got going.”  And he was very understanding and accommodating and agreeable.  Until I started having some pretty severe sleep issues. Which was probably one of the biggest reasons that I ended up back in the hospital the second time.  I was under a lot of stress and hardly slept at all for about 5 days.  Not good.

I have mentioned many times that getting enough sleep is critical for someone who has a mental illness like bipolar. (Really, sleep is so important for everyone!) So that was a pretty great concern.  My doctor mentioned that the other medication had a sedative.  I would take it at night and it would help improve my sleep.  But I still wasn’t convinced.  Finally after nearly another year of not having really good sleep, I was ready to try it.  

So that brings you up to date on my timeline.   I switched medications at the end of March 2021, right after I started doing the daily podcasts (not great timing on my part). I was terrified of going back into that dark place, but my Doctor assured me that it would be better for me according to my DNA test.  The first 4 days were so scary.  I started feeling very jittery like I was on speed or something.  

Similar to the way I feel when climbing the scale toward a manic episode.  A good way to explain the kinds of things that my husband was seeing, is that they were small things that most people would not see or notice.  Such as doing simple routine things in a different order than normal.  Or becoming a little agitated about things I normally wouldn’t be affected by. 

I called my Doctor and he assured me that it was not a manic episode according to what I described and asked me to give it more time.  Within a few weeks the jittery feeling was gone and I felt better than I had since 2015 when I had the 2 back to back hospital stays.  I finally felt like myself again.  I had no idea that I could feel even better than I did.  I was sleeping again. I had drive, and motivation. I felt clear headed like a fog had been lifted.  I could focus and get things done.  I loved it!  And I still do. So what happened recently? Well, here’s the story.

Luckily, I am very good at keeping a daily journal.  Just a couple of paragraphs of how I am feeling, and what’s going on in my life.  It has been very helpful in being able to look back and discover where things started to become a little unbalanced.  I had become a little lax on some of my daily habits.  I was missing a lot of workouts, and my nutrition was really suffering.  I was eating a lot of junk food and a lot of sugar.  I was under a lot of stress, because I had to go through several medical procedures in one month.  I am 53 and have a lot of hormonal issues as well.  

And I got to the point where sleep was starting to become an issue again. So all this comes into play just as I have been working on adjusting to the new medication.  When I look at it that way, I think that it wasn’t just the medication switch, it was everything combined.  It was like heading into the perfect storm…. Again.  And that’s why it is so vitally important to have a good support system in place.  Someone who knows you well and can see when things are a little out of order (for me that’s my husband).  And also to have a Doctor that is a good fit for you, that you feel comfortable with and who knows your history well.  

I started to have what my Doctor calls “outliers”.  Which basically means that I was super steady for a period of time and then I would spike and do something that was out of character for me.  

What is interesting to me is that these things were so tiny that if you don’t know me well, you would completely miss them.  Also, as I said in episode 32, most of the time they are such small things that even I can’t see that it is out of character.  Which is quite common according to my Doctor.  

So when these things start happening there are two directions it can go.  Either someone recognizes it quickly and you see your Doctor and make adjustments.  Or no one recognizes it until it’s too late. You have already climbed the scale to a manic episode. Which could mean hospitalization.

In my situation, we caught it very quickly, I was able to make the necessary adjustments in my medication.  Remember I had just switched, so we were kind of in the process of finding the right recipe again.  We knew it was compatible with my DNA. We just needed to find the right dosage.  We made a minor change and since then I have been fine and the “outliers” have stopped.

But this whole experience taught me so much about myself and my illness and the journey that I’ve been on.  I have gained an entirely new perspective that I think is really important.  Especially when it comes to helping others be able to overcome their struggles. And also to allow me to continue on my journey toward wellness.  I know now more than ever that I have to be so vigilant with my daily habits, and be sure I don’t miss days with my medication.  That’s why I like to call those who suffer with mental illness, warriors.  Because we are in the fight for lives every single day. 

Even though this is a sickness that can not be seen by the naked eye, like cancer, or diabetes.  It is still life threatening.  People who have not been through it or witnessed a loved one going through it, don’t understand that.  That’s why we have so many suicides and so many mentally ill people who are not getting the care that they so vitally need.  They don’t have a support system in place that can help them.  It’s easy to abandon someone when you feel like they are just being negative and difficult.

We need to be better at recognizing and understanding when someone is ill and support them instead of shunning them.  There is nothing more frustrating for a person who is suffering than to have someone say that it’s all made up or they are doing things to hurt people intentionally.  

It becomes debilitating and demeaning to be made to feel like there is something wrong with you as a person.  When the truth is, you are sick.  What you have is an illness that needs to be separated from the person that God made you to be. There is nothing wrong with the  “you” God made you to be.  You are human just like everyone else.  Your illness does not define who you are.  Just like you are not the cancer or you are not the diabetes.  Yes, it is something that you have, that you live it.  But it doesn’t make you, you!  

So my invitation to all of you today is: If you struggle with mental illness of any kind, find a psychiatrist that comes highly referred and is a good fit for you.  Going to a psychiatrist does not mean you will necessarily need medication.  There are many behavioral modifications that you can make with their help. Choosing to seek help is not a sign of weakness! It takes courage and strength to admit that you need help!

And then do whatever you need to, to find someone who can be a good support system for you.  Someone that knows you and can help assess the situation when things seem out of the ordinary.

If you have no one, seek out a therapist.  I know all of this is expensive and sometimes it’s hard to get insurance companies to pay. I won’t even go into my thoughts on that disservice! But if you can find a way to do it, the investment into your health will be worth every last penny.

And if you are a loved one of someone who is struggling, do everything you possibly can to help them recognize how much you love them and support them and want the best for them.  Encourage them! Don’t demean them.  Don’t minimize their illness or their struggle.  Validate their feelings and do whatever you can to help them to know that they can trust you.  

And to all of you together, I encourage you to trust in the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and soul . Because He’s got you in the palms of His Hands.  You are “held” always!  Until next time. Take care. 

XO Wendy

If you made it this far. Thanks for reading.  If you or someone you know has a trial that you/they’ve been able to get through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast.  My goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of hard things.

Take Courage

Take courage

You can listen to this post here

“If I may speak to you individually … may I suggest that your personal struggles — your individual sorrows, pains, tribulations, and infirmities of every kind — are all known to our Father in Heaven and to His Son. Take courage! Have faith! And believe in the promises of God!” —Evan A. Schmutz

The reason I started this blog, Pointing toward hope, was twofold.  First it was a way for me to document my journey through the trials of being diagnosed Bipolar.  But second and even more important to me was that I would be able to help someone else who might be going through similar situations.  I felt that if I could help just one person.  It would be so worth it. But what I have realized along the way is that we all take our turns on the struggle bus!  It doesn’t matter that my particular burden is not the same as yours. We can all help one another to become better, stronger, and most importantly, find hope.  So that is what I want to talk about today.  Hope! 

But first I want to share a scripture that we will talk about a little later but it’s one of my favorites.  It comes from the Doctrine and Covenants section 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up.  

When I was a young mother, I had just had my fourth child.  There were some complications during the birthing process.  Consequently my precious tiny boy was rushed to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.  For most of the 12 days that he spent in the NICU we wondered if he would be coming home at all.  It was heart wrenching to see that tiny little body lay lifeless in the incubator except for the machine that was helping him breath.  I remember feeling so overwhelmed with heartache, pain and anguish, blaming myself for something that I may have done during my pregnancy.  I had wished so hard for this baby to be born early and now he was, (2 weeks) and at what cost?  What had I done? It was a terrifying experience that many young couples experience when their child is born with medical issues.  Luckily for us, his stay was brief and we were able to bring him home with just a feeding tube, which he was able to go without, in just a few days of being home.

It wasn’t long after that experience that I started to have some serious postpartum depression.  Which eventually moved into full blown manic depression.  I had 4 young kids, all under the age of 6!  I knew that I needed help. I just wasn’t sure how to find it.  And so it went on for several months.  I’d had postpartum depression with each of my kids but it had subsided eventually and I’d been able to move forward with life.  But this time with the combination of having complications and then 3 other very young children.  It just became super overwhelming. I remember one day getting breakfast for my oldest before he would go off to kindergarten.  I grabbed a box of cheerios out of the cupboard and it slipped out of my hands and onto the floor scattering cheerios everywhere.  I was in such a state of hopelessness and despair that it was like the last straw.  I just sat in the middle of the floor and started sobbing.  I was screaming at the Lord in my head.  Why?  Why is this happening?  Why aren’t you helping me?  How do I go forward when everything just seems so out of control?

Finally after what seemed like an eternity (but was probably just a few minutes), my 4 year old daughter came into the kitchen.  She looked at the mess and then she put her hand on my shoulder, she climbed into my lap and hugged me and said “It’s ok mommy.” And at that moment I felt the Lord’s arms encircling me in His love.  In a few minutes my daughter got up and she started picking up cheerios one by one. (lol).  That was going to take a while, I thought.

Eventually I was able to get up and clean up the mess, get breakfast and take my son to school.  Which was another major chore with 3 other littles that couldn’t be left alone.  So I would have to pack up car seats and buckle them all in and just everything that goes along with that.  But it was tender mercies like that little sliver of light that came from a 4 year old that kept me going.  It was around that time period that I realized that I did have a choice.   For so long I had believed that this was something that I just had to endure.  I hadn’t been clinically diagnosed at that point, but I was familiar enough with postpartum and I believed that was what I was still dealing with.  I remember the thought coming to me as clear as a bell one day as I was feeling hopeless and lost.  You do have a choice you know?  I thought about it again.  I do have a choice.  I can sit here and live with this horrible feeling of despair and hopelessness OR I could get up and do something about it!  I don’t know where the strength came from that day.  Maybe it was angels surrounding me bearing me up.  But I do know that I realized without a shadow of a doubt in that moment I DID HAVE a CHOICE.  And despite what you may think about your own struggles and trials, you also have a choice!

I am privileged to be in many facebook groups and I follow a number of people online that are such an inspiration to me.  We didn’t have those back in the day.  One woman that I follow has gone through her own struggle these past several years as she lost her husband due to mental illness.  I have loved seeing how courageously she has faced this gigantic burden head on.  She has since written a book about her experiences and speaks on many podcasts and events.  She talked about choice in one of her recent posts and it went along so well with what I have been thinking about that I was to share it with you.  Her name is Kayla Steck and the book is called fear gone wild.  I haven’t read it yet but I am sure if it is anything like her page, it’s complete inspiration!  This is what she said in a recent post.  And I want you to insert whatever it is that is your particular struggle where she writes the word death.

“Death (insert struggle) sometimes steals our entire life, but when we hang on, when we push through, when we fight to rebuild again and again and again we are choosing to take back our life.”

I love that because it reminded me of that time that I realized, I do have a choice.  I don’t have to live like this.  I CAN and will take back my life!

Anyway back to my story.  The day that I had that thought about choice was the day that I picked up the phone and made my first appointment with a therapist. I pretty much counted down the days until I was able to go.  I was so in need of encouragement and strength.  I felt like my life was hanging in the balance.  I remember waiting in the lobby to be seen and having all kinds of unfamiliar feelings.  Was it going to be good?  What would they say? How long would it take?  And all the things.

She called me back and we talked about what I’d been going through.  I felt strangely comforted to just be able to unload all the pressure and worries and stress that I’d been experiencing to a total stranger who didn’t have any previous knowledge about my life.  No preconceived thoughts.  Her only job was to figure out where I would go next.  

If you have never been to therapy, I can’t recommend it enough.  It is so worth every penny!  I remember her looking me straight in the eyes and saying.  Well my dear, (she called me dear, which I so loved), if you ask me you have two choices. The first one is that you can do nothing (that is a choice BTW) and live with the struggles and challenges and stresses that you’re already well aware of.  OR, choice two.  You can take your life back!  There are medications that are designed to help you with what you are going through.  At that point I never knew that was an option.  I figured we’d just talk it through and be done with it.  Which actually works great for many, many people.  But when she described it like that to me, I knew that in order to continue to survive I needed help as quickly and as easily as possible.  And that’s when I had my first experience with anti-depressants.  Which worked out great for a long time.  It definitely helped to lift that cloud of despair and hopelessness so that I could continue to work on becoming better.

Now to be clear, I am not pushing medication at all.  It was just what I needed at the time to be able to function and work through everything.  But even more importantly than medication and what had started the ball moving for me, was screaming at God on the kitchen floor that day.  You see, God is not the typical caregiver.  We read in Psalm 147:3 He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.  That is His only objective. To heal us, to bind up our wounds.  To help us find peace amidst the struggle.  To find light in the deepest recesses of darkness. 

I know right now at this time in our lives, we are all exhausted!  We are over it.  Being stuck at home, kept away from others physically, struggling with work and businesses, just trying to survive.  Having world unrest and calamities come from every angle it seems.  But here is a thought for you. “What if you just tried on “making a choice to find hope in the hopeless, for size?  What if you just tried on “happy” for size?  What if you just tried on “seeing the little sliver of light” for size?  If you don’t like it, you can always take it back off.  I guess what I am saying is  that courage is a choice.

I love my Jesus, He always comes through for me.  When I was struggling with my littles, when I went through depression time and time again, when I went through my divorce.  And even when I walked away from Him for a while.  He never ever abandoned me.  One of my other favorite scriptures that the Lord put on my heart today is Jeremiah 29:11  I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you HOPE and a future!  It hangs in a frame in our bathroom so I get to look at and be reminded multiple time a day.  

But this morning as I was studying I came upon this scripture and it definitely spoke to me as I was thinking about hope and how to help you who may be feeling hopelessness in this moment.  It is found in Alma 22:16 of the Book of Mormon:  If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God yea, if thou wilt repent of all they sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, THEN shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

So this is the way that I interpreted that scripture today.  This is the way that it spoke to me.  Basically there are 4 steps to get the hope that you desire.  1.  You have to want to find it… If thou desirest this thing.  2. bow down before God (in your closet, on your kitchen floor, in your attic, where ever it is that you go to cry unto Jesus) and incidentally I did look up the definition of bow and it said to change in character or form, change of attitude, emotion or viewpoint… so maybe try on something different for size? 3. Call upon His name (cry, kick, scream, whatever it takes.  He is not the typical caregiver.  He is not going to scold us for our tantrum… He is just going to love us harder.  And finally 4. Believe!  Just believe that He can take away your pain…. THEN shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest!

I would love to leave it right there.  But I have one final thought that I think is really important to note.  “It’s ok to not be ok!  It is.  Maybe that is the season that you are in right now.  Don’t let the world add more pressure if you’re already overwhelmed.  It’s ok if all you can do this week is survive.  In fact that’s the most important thing!”  And that is a quote from Bouncing Forward.  

Remember my friends, you are loved!  You are enough!  And you can do this!  Fight on my warrior friend, I love you!

XO Wendy

on the wings of Eagles

Hello my friends!  There are so many things that I have been thinking about these past few weeks and months as we have all gone through so much with Covid, natural disasters, death, loss of businesses and the uncertain political climate.  

I myself have struggled this past several weeks with feelings of depression and isolation despite my best efforts to maintain good health.  Trying to all the right things and to just take the next right step. 

Living with Bipolar is very often that way.  It seems sometimes, when things appear to be going so well we can get caught off guard.  The adversary would have us believe that we are not worthy of the blessings of the Lord.  But I can assuredly tell that we are.  And as hard as it is, we must keep going, keep pushing, keep looking up as I talked about a few episodes back. 

The word that just keeps coming to me over and over is endure.  Because it really feels like we have been stuck in the “song that never ends” haha you know that one that you sing as kids.  Here’s the link just in case you’re not familiar https://youtu.be/xz6OGVCdov8….. Anyway, you get the picture.  Today I want to talk about the subject of enduring through adversity, but first I want to tell you about an experience that I had this past week.

I was outside one day and I watched as a beautiful hawk spread it’s wings and glided through the cool air.  And then it just so happened that I started to see hawks everywhere! Have you ever done that?  Well usually when that happens to me it’s because there is a message that I am supposed to get.  For me, that’s kind of how the spirit works.  When I start seeing things repeatedly, or get thoughts over and over that I wouldn’t have generally thought of myself, it’s usually the Lord trying to tell me something or give me a certain lesson.  What I got from this message as I started seeing these hawks soaring in the air is that I was reminded of the scripture in 

Isaiah 40:31 

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;  They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

As I thought  about eagles and what this particular scripture was trying to say, I decided to research a little more about them and here are some of the things that I learned. 

First of all, I love how big and majestic eagles look as they hover in the sky high above the ground.  Did you know that eagles can fly higher than any other birds usually around 15,000 feet high?  They get their lift from the warmer air that is closer to the sun, allowing them to glide for long periods of time.  And that is how they conserve their energy by not having to flap their wings so much.

Eagles are among the strongest animals and their eyesight is 5 times stronger than that of a human.  History has it that the eagle has the sharpest vision of all birds. When its eyesight grows dull with age it glides up towards the sun, and, by staring at the sun, which only an eagle can do, it burns away all the mistiness of age. ….They can detect UV light and can identify colors better than humans.  To keep their balance and glide smoothly in the air, eagles will shed a feather on one side when the other side loses it!

Eagles can also fly as fast as a speeding car. So their wings are extremely strong and powerful. And their vision is impeccable. 

They are unique in the way they care for their babies. Baby eagles are usually full grown by 12 weeks and too heavy for the female to carry.  So she won’t push her young out of the nest to learn to fly, instead she will discontinue feeding them when she thinks they are ready to take flight thus forcing them to fly so they can find food to survive. 

The word eagles is mentioned over 30 times in the Old and New testament of the bible and the imagery is often used to portray God’s power.

Now back to the scripture, it says “they shall mount up with wings like eagles”.  So we have already established how powerful their wings are. So let’s just find the meaning of the word, mount.

The first definition of mount is that it means to go up, climb or ascend.  Some synonyms are to arise, escalate, soar, ascend, rise, scale, tower, bestride, escalade, lift. 

The first part of the scripture says, those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up (arise, lift or soar) with wings like eagles (remember extremely powerful and strong). Now think of all of those traits that we talked about that eagles have. Sharp vision, they draw strength from the sun, they instinctively know how to maintain their balance and they can exceed the heights of others.

So you may be thinking well this is all great Wendy but how does this apply to enduring?  And we are gonna get there I promise.  But first we have to look at the first sentence of the scripture.  But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;

You know sometimes we feel like we have just had about all that we can take.  And I feel like practically every day this year, I wake up and something new and crazy has happened.  I think how can this get any worse? And above that, how do I keep going through all the crazy?  Well the answer I think, is that we WAIT on the Lord. One of the definitions of Wait is to look forward to eagerly. As in I can’t wait for Christmas.  But that’s not exactly what we feel like when we are in a state of enduring right?  It’s more like “you mean I have to wait longer?”

In Elder Jeffrey R.Holland’s talk from this past general conference he said, “… there will be times in our lives when even our best spiritual effort and earnest, pleading prayers do not yield the victories for which we have yearned, whether that be regarding the large global matters or the small personal ones. So while we work and wait together for the answers to some of our prayers, I offer you my apostolic promise that they are heard and they are answered, though perhaps not at the time or in the way we wanted. But they are always answered at the time and in the way an omniscient and eternally compassionate parent should answer them…..” 

I think it’s important to note that I didn’t hear this talk (or at least if I did it’s clear I wasn’t paying full attention), but after I planned this entire podcast, I was led to listen to his talk.  And I cried, because it is exactly what I needed to hear.  And maybe YOU need to hear it again too.  I’ll put the link in the show notes.

So many people are experiencing feelings of depression, isolation and fear during this 20/20 year.  Remember? This was supposed to be the year of perfect vision?  Not quite the perfect vision of the eagle that we talked about earlier. 

 It’s far worse than what we ever imagined, right?  Or is it?  What if this IS the year of perfect vision?  What if this IS the year that we learn and grow and soar more than we ever have?  What if this year IS the year that we wait on the Lord and renew our strength in Him?

 I have a couple of experiences that came to my mind about having to wait.  Going back to about 2016, I had been diagnosed with Bipolar ll and I was in a really bad place physically and emotionally.  I’m not going to go into the whole experience here. You can learn more about that by clicking on this link.  During that time I had two experiences that helped to remind me of the importance of waiting on the Lord. 

The first one was a dream that I had. 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 the 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 it was obvious 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 really 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 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 mind’s eye, that it was God’s hands coming around the car to shield us from the impending crash.  I remember feeling incredibly grateful for 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.

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.  

When I went into the hospital during my manic episode it was literally like falling off a cliff. We were also struggling with some other issues at the time.  I had been praying and pleading with the Lord to help us find a way out of the situation that we had been in.  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 may still hit the trees and come crashing down. But He will always be there to surround us in his love.  When we wait on the lord our strength will be renewed.

I remember at around that same time we had missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints of which we are members.  They were there to teach my husband about the church and remind us of how much Jesus loves us and wants the best for us.  

One night they shared a scripture passage with us from a story in the Book of Mormon about people who had been enslaved, most of them, their whole lives. It read: 

13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. 

15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.  Mosiah 24:13-15

I remember that after the sisters left, my husband and I just sat there stunned.  This was the Lord speaking directly to us!  Telling us that he would Strengthen us and that he would deliver us from our afflictions.  There is power in the scriptures, my friends, that we can not get from any other source.  I love the scriptures and the answers that we can get from the Lord through them.  

As we sat together and opened back up to that scripture I read ahead to the next verse which says, 16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.

I pondered upon that scripture as we sat there and it was as if the Lord was telling me that we were about to get through this trial.  My heart was filled with gratitude and I was so overwhelmed with joy…I was thinking on the morrow, Lord does that mean that we are almost through this.  It was like I was jumping up and down like a little kid, inside.  Until I heard Him whisper “But…” I remember thinking, no wait!   no buts what do mean, but?  And then I heard “yes this trial will end but not yet, you must endure a little longer.  You have to have great faith and patience and wait on Me, it is my timing not yours.”

I remember weeping as I thought of how much longer we might have to go through this refining process.  But it is when we wait on the Lord, that our strength will be renewed.

Also In the recent General Conference just a few weeks ago President Russell M. Nelson spoke these words, “Are you willing to let God prevail in your life?  Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life?”  He went on to say, “The word willing is crucial…. We all have our agency.  We can choose to let God prevail in our lives, or not.  We can choose to let God be the most powerful influence in our lives, or not.”

In that same thought process.  We can choose to endure, or not.  There is a great promise that comes with the Isaiah 40:31 scripture.  Did you catch it in the beginning?

Let’s read it again, But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;  They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

If we have faith and are willing to let God prevail, to wait on Him and His timing, we shall mount up with wings like eagles (remember “ arise with strength and great power”), we shall run and not be weary, we shall walk and not faint.

So just as in the scriptures we read that night with the sister missionaries,  I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage. His promise to us is that we will be able to be sustained in our waiting period.  He will give us the strength to bear up our burdens with ease if….. we will wait on Him, that our strength  will be renewed.

Like the eagle,  WE can have Sharp vision, when it comes to our future and the trials we are facing. We can draw strength from the son meaning Jesus Christ. We can instinctively know how to maintain our balance and exceed heights that we never thought possible.  Wait on the Lord, my friends, have your strength renewed through and By Him. He loves you so much!  But it is his timing and our faith and trust will create our endurance to get us through whatever hard thing we are going through.  

He loves us just like those eagles love their babies.  But sometimes He has to let us go without food for a little while so that we can learn to fly, so that we can look to Him for guidance and strength. But also realize the strength that we have in our own “wings”. 

This past Sunday we were able to return to our church building for the first time since Covid.  I was so excited to be in the building and worship with all my brothers and sisters in the gospel.  It was so touching and so great to be back.  One of the speakers we had, said something that I thought went right along with what I’m talking about.  He said, “sometimes we worry so much about the Why’s that we forget about the WITHOUTS”,  and I was intrigued and wanted to know where he was going with this.  

He went on to say that when we are enduring trials sometimes we focus so much on WHY we are facing this particular struggle, that we forget what we would be WITHOUT had we not gone through it.  I think about this and all the many miracles that have happened in my life since going into the hospital 5 years ago and being diagnosed Bipolar.  It’s humbling to think about how my life has changed and grown in ways I never thought possible.  But if all I ever focused on was the WHY did this happen part, I would not be able to enjoy all the things that I would have been WITHOUT had it not happened.  It’s difficult sometimes when you are in the middle of a trial to think of a statement like that.  It’s certainly easier to look back on the trial and see the WITHOUTS.  But that is when I want you to remember, if we wait on the Lord, our strength will be renewed!

I believe that the struggles that we’ve shared This year and some that have been individual have been for our benefit.  It’s possible that this IS part of His plan for us.  This year, this 20/20 crazy year. Could it be that it’s to help us rise up and soar to new heights and see with clear vision that the Lord will prevail? I say with God, all things are possible.  You can do this!  You can get through this trial. And you are going to look back and be so grateful for all of the things that you are not WITHOUT and all of the things you’ve learned!  

XO Wendy

Refresh and reframe your mindset

Quote Pointing Toward Hope pod graphic_2

At the beginning of the year 2020 we had such a positive outlook on the year ahead!  After all it was the year of “perfect vision”.  Now we are 8 months in, and as I’m sure you will all agree, it has been…. well… a year of some unmet expectations. Ok maybe a lot of unmet expectations! But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the rest of year. And neither should you. Let’s finish out this year STRONG!

So that all sounds great right? But it’s not so easy to do. Especially in our ever changing world filled with uncertainty and fear for what the third quarter of 2020 might bring. I mean I have started and stopped my goal of recreating my relationship with food (hello Covid-19), every time I read something else in the media that produces anxiety.  Maybe it’s time to step away from social media for a while (that’s why I’ve been missing in action for a hot minute, lol).

I’m not suggesting giving it up completely (thats just crazy talk), I mean we have to stay informed. Just choose wisely what you choose to fill your brain with.

Here are a five ways other than going easy on social media, that I have found to deal with the anxiety and hopelessness of the future. And to reframe thinking in a positive and productive way.

  1. Brain Dump Sometimes feelings and emotions can really become too much to bear. A practice that I have found helpful is to get out a journal (you know how I love journals!) and just “dump” all of your thoughts, feelings, emotions and scenarios that you are creating in your mind on to a blank page. You don’t even have to keep it if you don’t want to. I find that just releasing all of that emotion from your head and your heart is truly cathartic. It can be a form of therapy to just let your heart and soul out in words. Words that you’ve been tossing around and around inside your brain, creating all kinds of awful scenarios. Just get it out so you can let your brain rest.
  2. Breathe There are moments when I’m working on something whether it be at work or at home even hanging out at soccer game (yes we just started back up again, yay!), when I notice that I have been holding my breath.  It’s really a common practice to tense up when we are deeply engrossed in something. You may even be doing it at this very moment.  So stop right now and do it with me.  Close your eyes and take a big inhale through your nose (really fill up your lungs).  Now let it out slowly through your mouth.  Now do that 2 more times as you let your body just relax.  Hopefully that will help you feel a little less anxious.  Just breathe.
  3. Kill the ants automatic negative thoughts (thank youJim Kwik). Negative thoughts rob us of joy and kill our hope and steal our happiness. We’ve all heard the quote by Henry Ford,  “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”  Our thoughts are so powerful!  As Jillian Michaels from biggest loser always says, “If you fight for your limiting beliefs you get to keep them. ”  Don’t get caught in the trap of telling yourself that you are not (smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, motivated enough, old enough, young enough etc).  What you tell yourself you are, is what you will become.  Practice self love on a daily basis by being kind to yourself.  Don’t let the “ants” keep you from thriving
  4. Drink yo’ water!!!! I know this might seem like a crazy thing to add in this post. And I will harp on this forever (see more here). There are so many benefits to getting your water in daily (at least half of your body weight in ounces).  And so many negatives to not drinking water.  Being properly hydrated is so important.  Here are just a few benefits:  Weight loss and good skin elasticity.  Muscle efficiency, mood balancer (yes!), temperature control, memory function, and joint lubrication.  It flushes out the toxins that build up in our bodies creating good bowel function.  It aids digestion and creates better immune health.  When we become dehydrated it can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, weakened muscles and lack of motivation.  Do yourself a favor and fill up your cup!
  5. Get out of your space Sometimes we get so caught up doing things in our own little world that we forget how much of a breath of fresh air it is to get out and see others.  Being with people who love us and support us and laugh with us, might be the most useful and important activity we can do for us and for them!  I can’t wait to be able to hug big again!  Granted this has been especially hard during 2020 with Corona.  But it is not going to last forever and for the time being, we can still get out and walk our neighborhood and wave at others as they drive by, or talk and laugh 6 feet apart.  And sometimes playing games and visiting with your own family in your own home can be such a ray of sunshine. 
  1. I hope that these ideas will help you to find some ways to destress and decompress and refresh and reframe your mindset with everything that is going on in our world.  If you are struggling, please know that you are NEVER alone! 

Isaiah 52:12  For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.

The Lord is always by your side with His angels to assist you.  I know this because he has been there for me over and over again.  Love to you all, have a wonderful weekend.

XO Wendy

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