Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Poem of Grief

This is Puget Sound, about 3 miles walk from where I'm staying.


This is just my second week into this program, and many tears have been shed because of things I'm learning, things that are happening, judgment that has been issued, and ways of pain I can't describe.  Here is a poem I wrote yesterday as the feelings were raw and my heart was hurting.  Mind you, I never write poems, so I can't say it's very good.  But I wanted to share it with you as you are all part of my journey to healing.


My emotions are raw,
my feelings are deep.
The weight of this burden 
is too great for me.

My heart is in pain,
my feet are in shackles.
The grief that I bear
comes with tears & ashes.

The heart in my soul
has been shattered in pieces,
and my innermost being
longs for that unspoken Jesus.

I have held the hurt too long,
that the tears flood the ocean.
The agony in my soul 
has been abruptly set to motion.

The rain comes as a flood,
the sun refuses to shine;
But the pain that I feel
is most assuredly mine.

My value is gone,
my worth is no longer.
Lord God have mercy!
I wish I were stronger.

My soul longs for peace,
reassurance and comfort.
But it only comes
as if it were a muffler.

My health problems are my identity 
so much hurt comes from that.
I've been criticized and judged
at the drop of a hat.

My life is in ruins,
my beliefs been scorched.
I just want somebody else,
to carry my torch.

I'm tired and weary
from all life's distress.
My eyes are heavy 
as people "wish me the best."

Fear and rejection
are all on my list.
I wish they'd all go 
in the early mornings mist.

As I lay here feeling
shame and regret,
I often wonder...
is there a "what's next"?

A huge thing I've learned while being here, is that I haven't properly grieved for certain things in my life that have happened or have been taken away from me.  You don't have to loose someone in a death in order for you to be one with grief. It could be the loss of a friendship, the loss of your childhood, the grief felt in conflict and judgement.  But grief, pain and heartbreak have been the strongest of emotions the last week or so.  I'm not saying this for you to be sorry for me, but to let you know that healing doesn't come overnight.  It's a process, and a long one at that.

One thing I was struck by, was this quote that was shared in one of my first classes:

"You will never fulfill your God-given potential,
until forgiveness is 
MADE A PRIORITY."
~Rex

So as you continue your life, wherever you might be, just know that healing isn't just for me.  Everyone needs healing in one way or other, and I hope that you don't become discouraged at the length it takes for mental, emotional, and spiritual health to come together.

God's blessings on you, and I ask that you would continue to pray for me in this hard road to recovery.  I will share more (including pictures) at a later time, but for now, goodnight!

 He is worthy and greatly to be praised

 Olivia Grace

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Go Fund Me

Last Thursday, I went to talk to my counselor in Dallas.  As she says every time, she emphasized even more the critical need for me to get some intense daily therapy at an intensive outpatient center.  This put me on a search for Residential Treatment Centers all across the US.  I have felt a desperate need to get some serious help as soon as possible, because of the intensity of the depression and occasional suicidal thoughts.  

As I researched treatment centers, I became extremely frustrated and depressed.  Every center I found was going to cost between $1,100-$1,250 per day!  Okay, so I have no money, no job, and I need help....but now I can't get it??  How am I supposed to get better and be able to live a more normal life, get a job and go to school, without critical treatment?  So, I found a place in Washington that will help me out, as long as I raise as much money as possible they will pay the rest.  It is 30 grand a month, which is about how long I will be staying.  I started a Go Fund Me page to help with the finances, and I hope you will consider helping me out.  Please also be praying for me to be able to raise enough to go by the middle of June. 



Thank you!

 He is worthy and greatly to be praised

 Olivia Grace

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Guilt

Stress can do so many crazy things to your body.  It has been a HUGE learning process for me, just trying to accept the fact that my physical symptoms are a result of mental trauma I have experienced.  This has lead to the diagnosis of Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (see previous post), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Conversion Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Tics (movement disorder), Asthma, Stress Migraines, Light and Noise sensitivity, and a common heart condition.  What the heck??!!  Yeah, it's totally ridiculous.

This has also caused a lot of guilt for me.  When I'm told it's stress, I have a problem with feeling blamed for what has happened.  Stress should be something you can control, right?  That's what I thought.  The word stress, produced in me the thought that I brought this on myself, that I should not been so sensitive to the situation, that my issues are all my fault.  I feel put down, shamed, and guilty.  It then produces more stress because I am upset with myself, kicking myself in the butt for what happened, when sometimes I didn't even know I was stressed!



In all reality though, it's not my fault at all.  Every human being goes through hard times, stressful situations, and eventually mild to severe trauma.  I happen to be really sensitive to what is going on around me, and have experienced more trauma in my life than most.  I also have been taught an extraordinary amount of respect for authority, which caused me to not share my opinion, to become mentally trampled, to suppress my emotions, and caused it to be all bottled up inside making physical symptoms come out.   

Different people react differently to stress: 
Some people have panic attacks.  
Some have heart palpitations.   
Some have headaches. 
 Some fatigue.  
Some chest pain.  
Some back pain.
Some arthritis.
Some asthma.
Some memory problems.
Some high blood pressure.
The list could go on and on.



As you can see, a problem that is going on mentally will most likely present in some type of physical issue.  The result is frustrating.  You may think that if you weren't stressed, you wouldn't have to deal with this problem.  While that may be true, there is nothing you can do about it.  Your brain is SO extremely complex, that ultimately your physical issue is because it is trying to protect you from experiencing that stress or trauma again.  It's trying to save you from more intense trauma, so it slows you down to get your attention.

Guilt is a feeling that I deal with on a daily basis.  I try and tell myself that this is not my fault, that this reaction is completely out of my control.  However, it is still hard to process, to accept, to be okay with, and to deal with.  It's not easy to have so many physical problems, stemming from a psychological issue and distress.  If any of you deal with physical issues that may be caused by stress, I know how you feel.  I know that it's really hard for people around you to understand.  I know what it's like to feel put down and shamed.  This is not easy, but we'll get through this together!



Keep on keeping on.

 He is worthy and greatly to be praised

 Olivia Grace

Sunday, May 22, 2016

PNES

PNES stands for Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures, a disorder that I have been battling with for about three years now.  I was only recently diagnosed with it, and before had seen numerous neurologists and doctors to try and figure out what was going on.  EEG's, video EEG's, MRI's and CT scans were in order to see if I had epilepsy.  All tests came back negative...which is good right?  Well yeah it was to a degree, but no, because we were back to square one.  

PNES is commonly misunderstood and can be used to offend the person who is dealing with it.  People say that they are "fake", "made up", "fits", and "pseudo seizures".  Those terms can create even more distress and anger for a person who has this condition.  So, I have created a new word for the diagnosis that doesn't make me sound so psycho: Stress-Induced Seizures. 

PNES is literally a disorder in which the brain disassociates, or is removed from reality in order to escape and protect itself from a past traumatic memory, or an emotional distress.  The brain's response is to remove itself from reality and make a person somewhat unresponsive.  It also causes staring spells, twitching movements, and convulsions; all which look like a normal seizure.  The difference is that sometimes the person can still hear things going on around them (though they can't respond), they can have a high number of seizures, have frequent hospital visits, their episode is after a stressful event, and they don't respond to anti-seizure medications. 


It took almost 3 years for me to get a diagnosis and begin the treatment for it.  For some, it can take as long as 7 years to be diagnosed!  Most doctors and neurologists don't know what to do with these episodes and how to control them, so they just send the person to a psychiatrist...who sometimes don't know what it is and what to do about it.  When I was told to see a counselor, I became very defensive and embarrassed to go.  I didn't want to think that I had a problem with my stress levels and have people view me as "psycho".  I knew that I wasn't making them up, but the way people were acting made it feel like it was all my fault.  But I am here to tell you that this is a true disorder that many people suffer from, that you are not alone, you are not crazy, and if you stick to the counseling, the seizures will eventually become less and less!  The counseling is there to help you manage the seizures, by determining what stressors are the trigger, and how you can help your body deal with it differently.


One major contributor to PNES is a severe past trauma that keeps haunting you, though you try and avoid it.  Some people have it so severe that they have also been diagnosed with PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known in the military communities.  As I was reading about this in a book by Lorna Myers and it says, 
""Trauma" is the Greek word for "wound." It can take two forms: physical, in which bodily tissues are injured and psychological, in which a very distressing experience causes severe emotional shock that could lead to long-lasting psychological effects. Psychological trauma, therefore, is an "emotional wound."" 
~Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures: a Guide pg. 37 
They can have intense feelings of fear, anger, helplessness and guilt.  It also causes long-term damage to the person's psychological health.  When the memory reappears, the person can become anxious, sweaty, heart rate becomes elevated, and the fight/flight mode in your brain becomes activated.  As I read the symptoms of psychological trauma in PTSD, I soon realized that I have all of them and have been experiencing it severely for over a year now.  It confused me why I am experiencing this without having a history of physical trauma or abuse, but I saw that just because an emotional trauma is not visible, doesn't mean it's not there.


Different times that I have experienced these Stress-Induced Seizures, I have gotten different responses from people.  It has happened multiple times at church because of some stressors there, and not many people have known what to do about it.  It's happened at friends houses.  It's happened at a Behavioral Hospital that I was in at one time.  Some people call 911 and make sure I don't hurt myself (which I do all the time), and I can hear them talking in the background about me.  Some people sit next to me and pray over me.  Some people have told me to knock it off, and walked out of the room while I laid there seizing.  And I'd like to tell you that all I need is someone to stay in there with me to make sure I'm safe, and play music on their phone.  It helps me relax a little more, and know that if something does happen, I am with someone who will do the right thing at the right time.  Different people have different ways of coping with these seizures, so ask your friend or family member what you can do to help them and make them most comfortable.

If you want to know what my seizures look like, it usually starts with me breathing heavier, my heart racing, and my skin becoming clammy.  I'll lay on the floor, and eventually I'll have what looks similar to a Grand Mal seizure.  My whole body will convulse, and I will hardly be breathing.  I usually end up hitting something repeatedly while unconscious but slightly aware, and getting a bruise from it.  I can here things going on around me though not as loud or distinct as normal, but cannot respond at all.  This will usually last from 30 minutes to two hours, having one seizure after another with a small break in between.  I am completely exhausted afterward, and sleep for awhile.  I will wake up sore from everything that's happened, and slow to respond.  It is one of the most embarrassing things I have experienced, and is even more traumatizing than the subconscious thought that triggered it.  Thankfully, it has been three weeks now since I've had an episode!

I do want to thank all the friends out there who have tried to help me during a seizure, even though I know I freaked you out :)  Thank you for trying.  I wanted to write this to everyone in order to raise awareness about PNES, and give you a look in the life of someone who deals with the disorder.  It is crippling, and makes depression even worse.  What we need is a friend who is going to stand beside us no matter what happens.  We need your support and compassion.  We need to feel valued and worth something.  Sometimes the only place we can find that is in Jesus' arms.

If you want more resources on PNES, you can read any one of these books which I am reading, and have been told how wonderful they are!

Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures: a Guide by Lorna Myers Ph.D.
View from the floor by Kate Berger and Lorna Myers

Thank you for reading, and I hope this was a helpful resource to you!

 He is worthy and greatly to be praised

 Olivia Grace

Friday, May 20, 2016

Migraine

The last few days have been exceptionally hard for me.  My head has been on fire with pain, and making me want to sleep all the time.  Pain medicine doesn't even touch it.  Migraines are so miserable!  For all you out there that suffer from these intense head pains on a constant or even frequent basis, I feel for you and am so sorry you have to live with them.  I would never wish this on anyone.


This is a picture I just drew of what I think a migraine feels like.  Messy hair that you can't put up because it hurts too much.  Silent tears as you suffer with this incredible pain.  It feels like all the blood vessels in your head are constricting.  The endorphin's are in overload, trying to rid you of this pain.  Your heart rate becomes elevated as the pain continues.  You start breathing just a little harder to help deal with it.  You turn out the lights and try to sleep, but sleep is sometimes impossible to happen.  Tossing and turning comes as you try and get comfortable.  You listen to Christian contemporary music, hoping it distracts you from your suffering.

This my friends, is the worst headache you can experience.  

I actually just had an MRI today to see if there is something going on in my ears or head.  I haven't been able to walk without assistance for over six weeks now.  I'm dizzy, off balance, nauseated, have ear ringing/pain, and chronic headaches.  The other option, is that it's all my body's reaction to stress.  I'll find out on Monday if there is some type of issue going on or not.  Please be praying for some answers for this so I can walk again!  Know that I am thinking of all you who suffer from migraines frequently.  It's no fun, and I hope that we can figure out how to manage this crap :)

Blessings to you!

He is worthy and greatly to be praised

 Olivia Grace

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Scripture

If any of y'all watched my youtube videos I made about Depression, you will probably remember me mentioning something to the effect that people preaching to me and throwing scriptures at me make everything worse.  Well let me explain this a little bit better.



As I have struggled with depression, low self-esteem and anxiety for the last few months, I have come to discover what things help during a time of feeling low, and what things make it worse.  One of the things that don't help, are people that tell me all the scripture verses that I should be meditating on, thinking about, and reading.  Also those that "preach" to me by telling me how I should feel, the ways God is higher than me, how He is using this for my good, and that He is in control.  Mind you, these people have good intentions of helping me and bringing me out of the depression.  However, during that deep dark time I don't need anyone to make me feel any less of a Christian and feel stupid, because that is how I interpret what is being said.  I feel stupid, because they make me feel like I don't know anything or am not obeying Christ or His Word, by thinking the way I do due to the depression at the time.  I understand that that is not what the other person really meant, but I'm such a literal person and one that comes to solutions sometimes too fast.  Once I have a belief about something or someone, it's hard for me to up and change it to the positive side of that.


The problem with preaching to me, is that I already know what you're going to say, and it's usually the same thing that everyone else says.  Because what do you say to someone who is depressed except all things positive and pointed toward the Lord?  I already know that God is in control, and that He is going to turn everything to good.  Right now, I don't need people to be making it seem like what I'm going through is any less important and stupid since "I should be trusting God".  My relationship with Jesus is just between me and Him, and I can't have people interfering with that relationship by telling me what to do or how I should think.  
However, there are occasions where giving me a scripture verse is okay.  As long as it doesn't seem like you're beating me down, I will accept it with the intention to read it when I'm ready.  Sometimes I'm ready right then and there, sometimes I need a few days.  I know it can be hard to understand when it's okay to share and when it's not, but just ask the Lord when He wants you to share it with me.


Just a few ways that do help me during depression, is people who listen to me and are understanding.  Give them your ear for a bit.  Let them cry if they need to.  Give them a hug and tell them that you understand.  Another thing that helps is getting together with someone just to hang out and have fun!  Because of how dark depression is, it is extremely nice to come out of it for awhile and do something you enjoy with a friend.

I'm so sorry if I offended anyone by anything I said.  I just know that there are times when I need my space, need time to process things and feel the way I do.  Then there are other times when I need a helping hand through the struggle.

 Depression is a dark cave full of hopelessness, helplessness, and fear, and most times it's hard to see the end of it.  Please do be praying for me as I try and figure out how to manage depression, and that I would somehow be able to come out of this on the other side.

Thank you for your patience with me, and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  I hope that this was a helpful explanation to the topic :)

He is worthy and greatly to be praised

 Olivia Grace

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Depression

It's 4:30am.  I can't sleep for anything.  Panic ensues as my mind is flooded with past memories that are not pleasant to remember.  I can't control them as they rush in like a river and make me catch my breath.  People tell me that I can control my response to these thoughts, but sometimes it's nearly impossible.  It can totally encompass a person, make them feel small and incapable of doing anything, and cause them to be afraid that it might happen again.  It is a horrible feeling, one that is sometimes more intense than anything you have ever felt.


Stress, depression and panic attacks are real, and not something to take lightly.  Many people deal with one or more on a regular basis, which has lately been the case for me.  I often question my existence, and wonder why I have to be on this earth for more than I think is necessary.  Sometimes I seriously think people would be better off without me.  It's just too hard.  

"For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life ...and He will yet deliver us."
1 Corinthians 1:8, 10b

After reading this, it gives a spark of hope that maybe someday it will all be over...that He will deliver me from this deep affliction of chronic depression.  The thoughts are real, the memories will still be there but maybe I'll get a reprieve one of these days.  


You may wonder why I don't sound very positive, and that is because I'm really struggling.  Depression is no easy thing to go through. In fact, it has been the hardest thing I've dealt with yet.  It drains you physically, emotionally and mentally.  Some days are more of a struggle than others.  Some days I have more energy, while other days I can barely function.  Sometimes just too much noise will send me off into a tailspin.  It is amazing how hard it is to handle normal things that used to be easy.  The hardest part is that I am a Christian... so my first thought is: does this make me any less of a person or a Christian?  And the answer to that is no.  God loves me just the way I am, and even if it is a sad version of me His love will never change.  That is what I adore about the Lord... that struggles don't define a person, they shape a person.  It is there to make me stronger.  To build my character and who I am.  No matter how hard the struggle is, God will always be with me: especially when nobody else understands and I feel alone.

So these are just some real thoughts from a real person.  I hope now you can understand a little bit better what it's like to suffer from depression, stress and panic disorders.  That is usually the hardest thing for people... it's being misunderstood and belittled.  So please just be a listener instead of one who shames the other person.  And ask yourself how you can better yourself and be a blessing to others!

He is worthy and greatly to be praised

 Olivia Grace