Letting go of the ruin

 

When I was fifteen years old, my dad and I bought an old beat up 1976 Camaro from the high school auto shop.  I was going to be driving soon, and if things worked out I’d have my own wheels and freedom!  I was so excited.  

If memory serves me right, we paid about $300 for it.  It was in fair condition.  It could be driven.  But there were several things wrong with it, including it was in bad need of a paint job.  Of course I only noticed what it looked like on the outside and I wasn’t so sure that the $300 was well spent.   But it had good “bones”.  And the interior was still pretty nice, although stained a bit.  But my dad could see something in her that I couldn’t.

My dad and I spent the better part of a summer working on that Camaro, and bringing her back to life.  He on the mechanics of it, and me helping with the stains on the interior and the frame.  I remember spending hours sanding the metal down by dipping the sandpaper in water and then removing every bit of remaining paint left.  We rubbed putty (or something of the sort) in every dent and then sanded that down.  It was a grueling process that required attention to every detail.  But that was the process that was required to make her new again.  To repair the damage that had been done and make it whole once again.

Then finally… one day she was ready to paint and get the finishing touches put on.  I had saved all summer long to be able to pay for the parts and the paint job that went into her (candy apple red!).  And I couldn’t have been more proud of the work that we had done.

The day that we put “Old Red” on the road was one of the most exciting days of my life!  All of our hard work had finally garnered the result that  I craved.  She wasn’t perfect, but she was mine, and that’s all that really mattered to me.

As I reflected on that restoration process these past few months, I have been reminded of all the processes of restoration that we all have to go through during our lives on this earth.  We are all broken down, with a few stains here and there, in bad need of repair or “restoration”.  And although we may feel like we are barely getting by, the Lord sees our “good bones”.  He sees what the outcome can be with a little sanding here and a little putty there, and maybe a shiny new coat of paint.

I have spent a lot of time pondering and asking the Lord why?  Why do I have to live with a bipolar diagnosis?  Why is it that my body is broken down, stained and dented?  What good is meant to come out of this?  What’s the purpose?

And then I remembered the story of the Old Camaro and it came to me with perfect clarity.  We come to Him (our Lord Jesus Christ), broken, beaten down, full of sorrow and He “restores” us.

When I was diagnosed bipolar, my life as I knew it ended.  Everything changed.  I went from feeling like nothing could stop me.  To feeling like a broken shell of a person.  I was struggling with finding the right medications, the right Dr., the right plan for recovery.

It was only when I laid all my fears at the feet of my Savior that true restoration began.  Where I saw a broken shell, He saw the good bones. It has not been easy.  It’s a long grueling process.  From waiting for 6 weeks just to get into see the right Dr. and then ending up in the hospital again right before that appointment.  Then waiting another 6 weeks to finally get in again. Then trying different medications, behaviors and habits that work for me and my body chemistry.  A little sanding here and a little putty there.  He truly has been my source of restoration.

Elder Holland, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, once said, “I think of that night when Christ rushed to the aid of His frightened disciples, walking as He did on the water to get to them, calling out, “It is I; be not afraid.” Peter exclaimed, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Christ’s answer to him was as it always is every time: “Come,” He said. Instantly, as was his nature, Peter sprang over the vessel’s side and into the troubled waters. While his eyes were fixed upon the Lord, the wind could toss his hair and the spray could drench his robes, but all was well—he was coming to Christ. It was only when his faith wavered and fear took control, only when he removed his glance from the Master to look at the furious waves and the ominous black gulf beneath, only then did he begin to sink into the sea. In newer terror he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

Undoubtedly with some sadness, the Master over every problem and fear, He who is the solution to every discouragement and disappointment, stretched out His hand and grasped the drowning disciple with the gentle rebuke, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matthew 14:27–31

If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.” (May 2006 General Conference address).

We just need to reach out to Him and then keep our eyes fixed upon Him.  He can restore us.  He can bring us hope and peace and comfort.  If we will let him.  Because He loves us.  Because He broke the bands of death.  Because we are His!

We need not be fearful of the changes and trials that come into our lives.  We need only to believe.  Believe that He will come to us in His infinite power to restore us to our former state.  Believe that He will bring us back to a state of health, soundness and vigor.  It may not happen now, it may not happen in this lifetime.  But it will happen.  One day we will be restored in all our glory.  Just like my dad and I restored Old Red.  Our Savior will restore us, and He will take us out for a spin on the road and we will be His because that’s all that really matters to Him.

XO Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

Where do we go from here?

Breathe

As I walked back to my house one early morning this week, through the brisk cool air and heard these words it was like magic to my soul.  I was listening to a podcast that had a guest that was sharing a harrowing experience about her life (All in: Brooke Snow).  And when she said these words “Christ is the breath of life”, it stopped me in my tracks.  You might say it took my breath away for a minute.  I let it sink in and wash over me.  As I listened to her experience, thoughts of my struggle with mental illness raced through my mind.  Time after time when Christ had become the breath in whom I trusted to help me make it through another day.

This pandemic has been a hard punch in the gut for a lot of people.  It has literally taken the breath away from most of us in all different ways.  It has caused us to reflect and remember the things that should take priority in our lives.  And it has been HARD.  In so many ways it has been hard.  So where do we go from here?  How do we move forward when at times it feels so paralyzing?

All of the plans that we had for this year have been irrevocably changed and we can never go back and change what we’ve missed.  Weddings, funerals, graduations, trips, and events.   Some people said that 2020 was the year of perfect vision.  The year when all our dreams could come true.  And then boom…. in an instant our world was turned upside down.  

But one thing I have learned through all of my struggles with depressions, anxiety and bipolar is that Christ is truly where it all has to start.   We are all capable of change.  After all, even though it’s been rough, we are making it through this change, somehow. Even though the path may not be clear at this moment.

Miracles can happen when we are willing to put our trust in Christ.  Let Him breathe life into our weary souls. Because He sees the big picture.  He sees what we can not.  And like a baby being born and taking that first breath of air, we must look to the Lord to learn how to breathe when breathing seems impossible or almost like we are suffocating.

About partway through this quarantine, I realized that I needed to increase my yoga (meditation process) to stay grounded.  Otherwise I think I would lose my mind and end up moving backward instead of forward with my illness.  Normally, I do it once a week. It’s a good way to stretch and let go. Release the worries of the previous week and look ahead to the new week.  But now I have been practicing it daily and it has made such a difference in my life and my days.  I am a beginner and have a long way to go. I’m learning to understand how yoga/meditation work. 

Important note: I am not saying that you should pick up yoga. But finding time to quiet my mind helps me to take things that are bothering me or frustrating me, and just let them melt away for a little while.  It has helped me gain a new perspective on me as a person.  I have found that I  am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.  

So what I am proposing as you move forward as the quarantine is lifted, and slowly move back into a daily routine, work, school, sports, etc., remember the ways that you have changed through this experience.  Remember the experiences that have shaped you into a “new” person.  Because certainly none of  us can come out of this experience saying that we have not been changed in some way.

Find time as often as possible to sit for 5 minutes a day and just breathe.  Let Christ be the breath of life for you.  Just breathe in and out, deep breaths and let the worries of the world melt away.  Clear your mind and take just 5-10 minutes to remember this experience and how strong you have become as a person.

You are resilient, you are strong, you are in charge of your own mind and your own life.  Of course, there have been many negative things that have happened  because of this experience.  We may tend to look at it as one big negative.  But I strongly encourage you to take the time to recognize the good that can come out it.  

One thing that we can always be certain of, is that there will always be change.  

President Russell M. Nelson taught:  “We can change our behavior.  Our very desires can change.  … but true change–permanent–change can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”   Let Christ Change you.  Let him help you breathe.  Let Him help you move forward and embrace what is going to be a new normal for all of us.  Christ is the breath of life.  

In Ezekiel 36 verse 26-27 we read: A new heart also will I give you, and  a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stoney heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.  

27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

My hope is that as you move into this next phase of your life that your heart will stay soft and if  it has been hardened through this trial, allow Christ to breathe new life into you.   Allow him to heal your weary soul.  You are His.  He loves you and wants the best for you.  Breathe in and breathe out and let Christ be the sail on your boat slowly pushing you forward. 

Where do we go from here?  In my mind the only answer is fearlessly forward!

XO Wendy

 

 

A New Normal

We are living in a world that is going to have a “new normal”.  As the events of the past few months have unfolded before us, we’ve felt many emotions.  Fear, Shock, disappointment, loss, suffering, helplessness, hopelessness, and many more.  

For some that are single or live alone, loneliness and isolation have been a big part of the past month. As well as those who have had to isolate because of infection by the virus. Or people who have been otherwise hospitalized, who have had to do so without the support of loved ones by their  side.  

Whether for a sickness, or lingering illness, or the joyous event of delivering a baby.  Which has been bittersweet, both joyful and heartbreaking to not be able to share that experience in person with friends and family 

At the same time, as we have practiced social distancing and followed the “stay safe, stay at home”  orders that have been implemented in many states, we’ve felt a closeness to our families that may have been lost.  We’ve been comforted by the fact that we are experiencing the same feelings as people all over the world. We’ve felt joy, compassion, love, tenderness, empathy for those working on the front lines and those who are ill. We’ve mourned for those who have lost their jobs and livelihood and those that have had to give up dreams that they’ve worked their whole life for. 

Many of us have developed a great love for our leaders.  Whether they be government, church, educators, scientists, healthcare workers, or even company owners who have come forward to help in the face of tragedy.

We’ve felt a renewed love for our Lord and Savior and his atonement and suffering for all of us.  We have realized that we can not carry this burden alone. That nobody should carry these burdens alone. And so we have become united in purpose to eliminate and eradicate this awful virus that has infected not only our bodies, but our lives.

It has been incredible to witness the heroics of so many in our communities as we have faced the pandemic and world calamities (earthquakes and tornados, etc.).  Our hearts fill with gratitude as we see a world come together through something that can’t be seen but only felt.

As someone who already suffers from mental illness and the effects of isolation that it can bring,  I feel a deep compassion for those who have never experienced those feelings who now will find themselves in deep depressions.  Whether from loss, unemployment, isolation, financial struggles or family dysfunction which may have become front and center. Or those who will suffer PTSD from witnessing the most horrible experiences one can imagine. 

But I will forever be an optimist.  I know that we CAN come together as a nation and as a world to fight this horrible disease.  We can make our world whole again by the kindness and love and the attitude with which we choose to move forward.

Will it be easy?  Absolutely not. We have all experienced something that will forever be implanted in our very souls.  Something horrendous. But out of the ashes rises the Phoenix! We can rise as a nation/world. We can rebuild our world and each other instead of tearing each other down.

We can spread love and kindness and come together in a way that no one anticipated a few short months ago. We can find that “new normal” together.  We can build a new world from the love and common ground that we’ve found through the most tragic of events.  

We have been told that it may be much longer than anyone thought that we will be in this situation.  Both fighting for our lives and fighting to stay healthy. But through this time there are still ways that we can reach out.  There are still ways that we can stay healthy and maintain a good attitude. And with the Lord’s help we will conquer this pandemic while simultaneously building stronger families, friendships and communities.

Revelation Chapter 21

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new

A new normal? Yes.  But possibly a better way of life? Most definitely!

All my love,

XO Wendy

 

Remember that time…?

Trust hope and love.Remember that time I woke up with tears on my pillow because I felt broken and like our lives would never be the same and you rolled over and put your arms around me and held me until I stopped crying?  You saw me!

Remember that time that I did something so out of character for me, and yelled at you for not listening to or understanding what I was saying, when it made no sense at all?  You left and thought about not coming home, but you did.

Remember that time you came home and found me uncommunicative and pretty much unresponsive and anger turned to panic?  You burst into action and knew exactly what to do even though you were in completely unchartered territory.

Remember that time you sat with me in the ER as I chattered away about randomness and nonsense and was completely out of my mind?  You sat with me and listened and responded and laid your head on my chest and didn’t leave me.  You knew the real me was still in there somewhere.

Remember that time?  The time I kept you up all night chattering nonsense, and the next day you had to take me down to what is known as the transition unit?  I hadn’t eaten in a few days and you had to treat me like a little child because I was still out of my mind. You convinced me that the pineapple in the fruit cup tasted like candy and I should try some.  You sat with me while I ate a few pieces until I finally stopped chattering and fell asleep.

Remember that time when I woke up in an unfamiliar place on an unfamiliar bed and the first thing I did was call you to find out where you were?  And you were so relieved and happy to know that somehow I was still me and I still needed you.  Oh how I needed you!

Remember those days when you brought me lunch and visited me multiple times a day even though it was against the rules?  You walked with me in the gym and I threw the football at you as hard as I could because I was angry that you wouldn’t take me home.  Even though I already knew that I was still too sick to go home.  You did what you always do and made jokes.  You made me laugh until I was in a better mood and everything was ok.  You saw ME.

Remember that time that you came into my room and I rolled toward the wall and wouldn’t talk to you?  I told you I didn’t want to see you until you were there to take me home.  And you laid down on the bed, scooted up next to me and put your arms around me and held me while I cried.

Remember that time that you had to decide whether or not to check me out of the hospital on Halloween weekend?  And you knew you couldn’t leave me there alone another day, so you took me home and took care of me yourself even though you were scared it would all happen again.

Remember that time when we couldn’t find a Dr. who didn’t have a 6 week waiting period to get in to see them?  I sobbed and sobbed because I just wanted to feel like myself again.  You knelt down, held my hand and prayed with me, the most humble and heart felt prayer.  Remember, I fell asleep and then a Dr. called and said they had a cancelation for the next morning?  Remember that?

Remember that time that we woke up at home together in our own bed and you scooted over to me and held me and snuggled me and I knew I was “home”?

Remember that time….?  Oh there were so many times that you rescued me in my hour of need.  You had never done this before, you didn’t know what to expect or how to act.  But you did it all perfectly.  Because you see ME!  You always see the real ME.

Thank you for always seeing me!

XO Wendy

*An open letter to my husband, my biggest fan, my greatest support, my hero. And to all of the loved ones who are  caregivers and a support system for those that suffer with BPD or other mental illnesses.  #removethestigma #letstalkaboutit # mentalillness

If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.

 

 

 

 

 

BPD, a blessing or a curse?

Prosper you and give you hope

Bipolar disorder (BPD), is a big part of my life, whether I like it or not (…Not!).  However  I have to give it credit for being a catalyst for so much good and positive change in my life.  That’s right!  When it all boils down, I am grateful for the disorder for helping me to grow toward becoming a more positive, healthy, empathetic, and gratuitous person.

I still have a journey ahead of me, of course, but I am happy with how far I have come.  When I look back at the road less traveled (or maybe I should say less acknowledged), I can see the many times that BPD has been a blessing in my life.

The annual report of the state of mental health in America, came out today and while I was pleased to see that substance use disorder has dropped some, it is clear that we have a lot more work to do in bringing awareness to mental illness and suicide prevention. I hope that my posts have had some effect in bringing that awareness to others.

Here are just a few of the reasons that I have found, to see my illness as a blessing.  It is worth mentioning there is always the flip side of the coin but in this post I want to stick to the positives.

 

  1. GET Stuff Done! While I had severe bouts with depression when my kids were little (I had four within 7 years!), I credit being able to get A LOT of stuff done to the manic side of BPD.  I remember being called the “energizer bunny” because I could accomplish so many projects in a day.  It probably wasn’t the healthiest way to get things done.  But when my kids were little and required so much time and attention I was able to give them what they needed. And as they got older and all had different schedules and activities, I was able to get them all where they needed to be when they needed to be there, keep a house of order, cook and clean and stay organized.  I often look back and wonder how I did it all!  Now I know.
  2. More Empathetic.  Not that I wasn’t always a caring person, it’s been in my nature to care for others since I was little.  I had a mother that was a great example of this.  However, being diagnosed with a mental illness, especially one as serious as the one that I have, has helped me to recognize the loneliness that people with mental illnesses experience.  We all feel like no one understands and that no one knows what we are going through.  We withdraw and retreat into ourselves because of that.  But I want you to know that you are NEVER EVER alone.  I see you!  And so do a lot of others out there who have struggled with similar disorders. And Jesus Christ KNOWS exactly what you have and will experience, because he descended below it all for you and for me!  Jesus will always have your back.
  3. I Know in Whom I trust. Speaking of Jesus Christ, I would never have come to know my Savior in the way that I now do if it hadn’t been for what I have gone through on my road to better health.  One of my favorite scriptures came to me in a time when I was most in need.  Jeremiah 29:11 says: For 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.  Whenever I was down or was having a particularly hard day (which there have plenty of), I looked to that scripture and remembered that my Lord is always aware of me and knows my needs and wants the best outcome for me.
  4. Live in Gratitude Daily.  That probably sounds strange to some people, especially to those who suffer with debilitating illnesses.  But I have learned that keeping a daily gratitude journal is one of the best practices that one can do for physical, spiritual and mental well being.  Sometimes I may have to dig deep to find the tender mercies of a day.  But when I do, I am always filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the life that I have blessed with, illness and all.
  5. Appreciate the Really Good Days.  I’ll be the first one to admit that there are some really, really hard days when dealing with these types of illnesses.  There are days when you feel like you can’t go on, that it is all too hard and you can’t survive another day.  Even though I am on medication and am in a better spot than I have ever been in, I still have bad days.  However, it makes me appreciate, really truly appreciate. Every. Single. Day. That I am alive. That I am here and that I can share and help others who may have similar experiences.  My good days are something to be celebrated.  And celebrate I do, with every day I live I am grateful for having been blessed with BPD.  It has made my life fuller and richer in so many ways.

Have a wonderful day and week!

XO Wendy