Hiding out, the winter blues & a nice boost

I got super busy planning the wedding that I almost forgot to tell you all about it! Even though I had a whole year to plan, I, your typical procrastinator, ended up doing most of the hard work at the last minute. I began to freak out a bit when we came to the week of the wedding and I thought the entire thing was going to be a disaster, but with some help from some wonderful friends and family, everything went off wonderfully. The wedding was beautiful. Everyone absolutely had a blast at the reception.

Then, we went to Kentucky Lake for our honeymoon, which was absolutely gorgeous, especially with the trees just starting to turn colors and the beautiful fall weather. It stormed at night, which was just amazing because I sleep so well when it storms. When we got back, there was so much to clean up and deal with from after the wedding. There were things we had missed while we were gone. It took us a little bit to get settled back in to everyday life after having an entire week to ourselves.

Then came Old Man Winter. Winter can be a beautiful season. For some, however, Winter can be a difficult season. The Winter Blues turn into some major Winter Lazies. I’m not trying to make excuses. I’m just stating what is a fact for some people, including myself. I don’t like the cold. I enjoy a snow day or two, but not being cooped up in the house for days. I don’t want to get out in the cold, but then I feel isolated at home.

This past week gave us a glimpse of something entirely different. We got a taste of spring with a few warm days and a lot of sunshine. In the midst of a week where I wasn’t sleeping well and my confidence in myself was running short because of the endless tasks I was not accomplishing, the nice weather change was a beautiful reminder that better days are coming. Life has ups and downs. We just have to push through the low times and make it to the better days that are waiting for us up ahead.

I’ve been using the boost I received this week to work on and finish projects I have started. I’ve taken care of a lot of daily tasks that I have made excuses for not doing when I should have.

Another reason I have enjoyed this break in the cold weather is because even though I have had trouble sleeping this past week or so, I have felt so much more like myself than I have been feeling lately. I don’t know how to explain it. It is such a nice feeling, though. I kind of feel like I’ve been on autopilot the last month or two and suddenly I woke up feeling refreshed, even though I also felt quite sleepy.

I guess the point of this post is to simply say, “Hey, I’m still here. I’ve been hiding out a bit because I’ve been running low on fuel, but I’ve gotten a nice boost lately. I am hoping it is enough of a boost to keep me motivated and moving forward at a bit of a quicker pace than I have been.”

I also wanted to give an example of how life is constantly moving, even if you feel stuck in a situation or season. It seems cold and bleak at the moment, but it won’t always be that way. There will come a break in the weather. There will be warm, sunny days that will give you a boost to tread on. You may not be able to see it. It may not come when you want it to. It will come, though, when you need it the most.

Me time, isolation & the domino effect

“I just don’t like people.”

I have said this phrase before. I am going to let you in on a secret.

IT IS A LIE!

I mentioned in my previous post that some things can be good, even great, for you mentally and physically, but some of us can allow some of these things to become unhealthy. Today, I have been contemplating one of the things that I personally tend to take too far and allow to become unhealthy in my life.

See, every Sunday I wake up, put myself together, and make a 20-minute drive to attend church. Once I walk into the building, I extend quick greetings in the form of a ‘hello’ or ‘how are you’ to the many acquaintances, chat with the small handful of people I personally know, and take a seat.

Yesterday was very different for me, however. See, my fiancé is on the music team at our church. Quite often they team gets together bright and early to have breakfast together before heading to the church to practice a bit before they play for the worship services. Yesterday, I woke up bright and early to join the goofy crew, or shall I say dark and early considering it was four o’clock in the morning and not a hint of daylight was to be found. Jacob and I met up with the group, where we all stuffed our faces with what felt more like a midnight snack than breakfast.

After our super early breakfast, we headed to the church where I hung out in what I believe is sometimes called the ‘green room’ or ‘volunteer center’, working on a blanket I am crocheting while the band practiced and during the first service. Throughout the morning we laughing so hard. We shared stories and jokes and picked on each other.

It would be an understatement to say that I had a blast! It was great to be able to get out of my own little world, break off the shell I wear pretty much daily, and interact with a great group of people. I allowed myself to be social. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I felt like I had been allowed to be involved and included in something. I wasn’t simply ‘going to church’, but I was actually experiencing something that I have so desperately missed.

Quiet, alone time can be a good thing. After a long, hard, tiring week or work and the fifty other things that we have to try and cram into our schedules as individuals who make up a society, it is good to take some time out for ourselves, recuperate, and reload of all the energy we have somehow lost in the midst of all the chaos. ‘Me time’ is a good thing! The problem is when we turn the good thing into something really unhealthy.

Naturally, I am an introvert. I don’t put myself out there a lot. I am extremely shy and reserved around people I do not know well. Once I get comfortable in an environment, however, my alter ego comes out. I become an extrovert. I laugh and cut up and have a good time.

I require a good, generous amount of ‘me time’ so that I do not get burnt out and zapped of all social energy. It is extremely easy for me to turn needing a generous amount of ‘me time’ into becoming an antisocial hobbit, though. I tend to take too much ‘me time’ and begin isolating myself and do not allow myself to get out of my bubble and my own little world and socialize with other human beings. ‘Me time’ becomes unhealthy.

My depression feeds on isolation. We begin a domino effect when we isolate. The more we isolate ourselves, the more we feel alone. The more we feel alone, the more depressed we become. As humans, we need interaction with other humans. I mean, if you’ll read the second chapter of Genesis in the Bible, you will see that God created Adam, and then He created Eve because “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18 NLV)

It’s not good for us to be alone. It is good to get some quiet time to ourselves where we can regain our energy. Even then, though, we are not truly alone. We need each other. We need to interact with other people to strengthen us. We need to be able to lift each other up, encourage each other and let each other know that we are not alone. We are not alone in our struggles. We are not alone in the things we face daily.

I created this blog because isolation and feeling alone is something that the parasite called depression feeds on. I chose to openly admit and talk about the things I have struggled with and the things I struggle with now because I absolutely hate the thought of another human being going through the same things and feeling like they are alone. If you are reading this, I want you to know that you are not alone.

You are not alone in your struggles. You are not alone in your battles. You are not alone in this great big world. It may seem that way at times, but it simply is not true.

My mission is to help others realize that they are not alone, but I have allowed myself to sit back and become isolated enough to feel alone at times. So, if you tend to isolate and feel alone…

You are not alone. You are not the only one who does this.

Stay Safe, Stay Strong, Stay Beautifully Imperfect. Bye!

Exercise … why don’t I?

I wrote a post recently, Positive Distractions, in which I listed six things you can do when feeling low or anxious or just really ‘meh’. I have been thinking more about the things I wrote in that post and thought I would share what has been on my mind. So, in a way, I suppose this post is a bit of an update or part two of that post.

First of all, it has been bothering me that I posted six distractions. Don’t ask me why. It just has. It just isn’t a comfortable number for me.

Next, I would like to inform everyone that I have officially bought a NEW COLORING BOOK! Yay!

Thirdly, and the actual reason for this post, my fiancé and I played tennis the other night. We have been talking about doing this for a while now. So, we met at a local park when I got off work one night earlier this week to play. It was a very interesting experience. During the two hours we were there, the ball strayed outside the fence twice. I think I was finally starting to be able to return the ball sometime in the last half hour. I’m sure I looked ridiculous flinging my racket through the air and hitting…..nothing but air. Needless to say, I am horrible at tennis and Jacob had a good two hour laugh.

I learned two great things that night. The first of the two is something that I learn over and over again. I learned the importance of being able to brush off a failure, laugh at yourself, and start all over again. It is also what I am officially making number seven on my list of positive distractions.

Do something ridiculous, make a fool out of yourself, and laugh about it until your sides hurt! Go out and play a sport you are super terrible at with a friend and laugh at yourself. Or don’t go out. Just do something goofy and laugh at yourself until you can’t help feeling good. I know that sometimes it’s just not that easy, but when you do find yourself laughing uncontrollably at the fool you have made of yourself, you tend to feel so much better. Besides, laughing at yourself is so much better than sulking about something. I could have just given up, figured I would never get the hang of it, and ruined not only my night, but my fiancé’s as well.

The second thing I learned is something I knew once, but gave up on and ignored altogether. If you read the positive distractions post, you know that I said that I felt like a bit of a hypocrite for suggesting exercise because I really don’t utilize that one…..like ever.

Here’s the thing. I actually used to run a lot. I started taking walks just to get out of the house and clear my head

It was a great distraction and it felt really good to get out. There is just something about exercising that causes you to feel really good once the initial shock and feeling like you are going to collapse if you make another move passes. I eventually made enough progress that I started running occasionally. Occasionally eventually turned into everyday runs in the ridiculous Missouri summer heat, which included crazy humidity and heat indexes over 100 degrees.

I replaced all my negative coping skills with exercise. The problem is that I became absolutely obsessed with working out. I ran in unhealthy conditions. I didn’t eat well, ran in dangerous temperatures, and literally felt like I was going to pass out by the time I reached home on several occasions.

So, why don’t I exercise like I know I should? Well, I’m not going to try and make excuses. I know that I need to start doing it more often and on a regular basis. It is a great stress reliever and simply makes me feel great in general! So, here’s to accepting and admitting the truth. I don’t exercise enough. I realize I need to do it more often and more regularly. I also have to not let it become an obsession. I have to be smart and cautious.

We have to be careful not to let positives become negatives. It is so easy to let what is good for us get out of hand and become unhealthy.

Stay Safe, Stay Strong, Stay Beautifully Imperfect. Bye!

Tourette’s and OCD, Cousins or Siblings?

I have yet to meet another person with Tourette’s who does not also have at least one comorbid condition. For me, there has not just been one, but at least three of these ‘cousins’ as they are frequently called.

There are so many disorders and syndromes that are so closely related and occur simultaneously that I could not possibly begin to list them all. the symptoms of some disorders are so similar that it is easy to mistake one for another. There are many people who go misdiagnosed because of this. This is why comorbid conditions are often referred to as “cousins”, because they are so similar and closely related, just as members of a family might be.

I have family members who have been mistaken for each other either because they sound like the other person over the phone or because they look so much alike that someone who has not seem either one of them in a long time mistook one for the other. For example, when my sister and my cousin were younger, people mistook them for sisters rather than cousins when they were together. My sister has always looked as though she belonged to my aunt rather than my mother.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the conditions that can co-occur with Tourette’s. A person with OCD has obsessions and compulsions. Basically, you have an obsession, a thought that will not leave and causes you anxiety, and the only way to relieve that anxiety is to carry out a compulsion. The obsessions and compulsions can consist of a variety of things.

Everyone forgets what day of the week it is once in a while. At least, I think everyone does that once in a while. I’m really hoping it’s not just me. For me, though, it causes this anxiety and I think, “Oh my gosh, I thought today was Saturday and it’s really Friday. What if I forget what day it is tomorrow and something bad happens because I forget what day it is and forget to do something or go somewhere?”  Actually, it feels a bit more like this as it goes through my head,

“OHMYGOSHITHOUGHTTODAYWASSATURDAYANDITSREALLYFRIDAYANDWHATIFIFORGETWHATDAYITISTOMORROWANDSOMETHINGBADHAPPENSBECAUSEIFORGOTWHATDAYITISANDFORGETTODOSOMETHINGORGOSOMEWHEREORSOMETHINGLIKETHAT!?!?!?!?”

To relieve the anxiety caused and keep ‘imagined bad thing that will happen because I forgot what day it was’ from happening, I repeat this over and over in my head or even out loud if it feels necessary, “Tomorrow is Saturday, not Sunday because today is Friday, not Saturday.”

For a lot of us who have both OCD and Tourette’s, it is sometimes easy to mistake the two as siblings.

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Positive distractions

This past weekend was quite difficult. My head jerking tic came back with a vengeance. It has been painful and exhausting. After a day or two, I realized I had a giant lump on the base of the back of my neck. The next day I began one of my hitting tics, which is hitting my shoulder repeatedly. So, as you can imagine, it was not long before I had a bit of a bruise on my right shoulder. Today, I am not ticking nearly as much, but I am still a bit sore.

It was not just physically that I have felt exhausted, but mentally as well. The only other time I could think of when my tics actually hurt was when they first became a huge problem and I was finally diagnosed with Tourette’s. So, those thoughts and the anxiety that it was going to continue getting worse before it would get any better added to the natural effects of sitting around and doing nothing all weekend…well, you can probably imagine how epically BLAH I felt. 

I will admit that by Sunday evening, when I had started my hitting tic, I was beginning to feel downright horrible and slightly depressed. As I sat at home by myself Monday, I started searching within myself for ways to make myself feel better. I quickly discovered that all the old negative coping skills I used to apply in this situation were all that I could think of. I wondered…where have all the positive distractions I had adopted in time?

This morning, as I was browsing the YouTube universe, I came across a video by Emma Blackery about being angry and things to do when you are angry that will help you feel better and calm down. As I was watching this video, I began thinking of the positive distractions and coping skills that I have learned over the years. So, I thought I would share some of the things I love to do that really help calm me down when I’m anxious or upset or angry or help distract me when I am feeling depressed.

NUMBER 1!!!

Music. Everyone loves music. You can’t tell me that you genuinely do not like music of some kind. Not everyone likes the same genre of music or the same artists, but I am pretty positive that we all like some form of music or another. If not, let me know because I have never met anyone who doesn’t.

Anyway…yeah…Music is a great escape. When you can find a song that expresses exactly how you are feeling in that moment, it is as if someone finally understands what you are going through and what you are feeling. And when you find out that someone else likes the same artists or songs, you instantly have something in common with that person that you can talk about. Music brings people together in ways you can’t even imagine. Music can brighten your day and bring a whole new perspective and attitude into your day. Happy music makes people happy!

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Poetry: “Stand Still”

Tic, tic, tic

They keep coming,

one right after

another…tic.

I can’t stop them.

I can’t hold them

back to where I

started at a

stand still.

Breathe.

Relax the muscles,

sore from the

movements are back.

A swing…

and a miss. Swing…

this one hits

an uncushioned bone.

“Hey!” “What?” “Hey!”

Yelling and blurting.

Sniffing and stomping.

I’m not in control,

like my brain has

backfired…again.

They’re sudden like a manic

episode is over.

Back to a

stand still postion.

Aching and tense,

it’s good to be

at a stand still.

Dying dreams?

This is a great conversation topic that my former pastor, Chris Owensby, brought up on his social media accounts. I replied twice on Twitter and once on Facebook. I still could not get all my thoughts out with those three posts. So, here I am letting this one sided conversation I’ve been having over this topic fly.

I don’t believe the dream in itself ever actually dies. I think our confidence in ourselves and in Christ to make the dream a reality dies. How does that happen, though?

I remember one week when I was offered an opportunity that seemed so surreal to me. I just kept walking around thinking to myself, “Wow! Is this for real?!” I had to find out if it was a serious offer or a hoax, so I asked for more information. Once I received the information I requested, I was very unsure about my ability to accept the opportunity given to me. I only had a short amount of time to accept or decline and could not meet demanding requirements in such short time.

I prayed about it endlessly. It seemed like such a great opportunity. I didn’t want to pass it up, but I could not help thinking that maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps it just was not the opportunity I was looking for.

I arrived at church one evening, and was told by the man who has started this conversation today. He first prayed with me about the situation. Then, he told me, “If this is truly an opportunity from God, do NOT be afraid to jump!”

Many times, we let fear get in the way of our dreams. The enemy instills a fear in us and we begin to believe the doubt and fear that we feel. We begin to fear that we will ultimately fail what we set out to do. The problem is, if we give our dreams, goals and plans over to God, and He sets out to make those dreams a reality, we shouldn’t be worried about failure. God can not and will not fail us. To believe that we will fail is, in reality, believing that God is incapable of doing anything and everything. Therefore, the dream itself has not died. The faith we have in God and that God can do all things has died.

Not only does fear get in the way, but lies that we are constantly told by the enemy get in the way as well. The enemy wants us to believe that our dreams are impossible and that we are not good enough to accomplish what we have set out to do. He tells us that we are insignificant and have no purpose.

Let me tell you that this is a BIG FAT LIE! Every human being has a purpose. You would not be here if there was not a purpose for you being here. Unfortunately, most of us believe these lies at some point in our lives. I know how hard it is to not believe them at times, but the Bible tells us differently. Christ’s love and sacrifice that we recently celebrated tells us differently.

Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed that I would find “the one”. I dreamed of finding that one man that God meant for me to be with and spending my life with him in a ‘happily ever after’ kind of way. Because of all that has happened in the past several years, I had pretty much given up hope that I would find that person. I began believing that he didn’t even exist or that God had decided that I wasn’t worth giving to anyone and gave my ‘someone’ to someone else.

It was only when I stopped looking and stopped trying to find that person that God brought him into my life. I think that we expect things to happen a certain way a lot of the time and become disappointed when it doesn’t turn out as we expected. God has a plan for our lives. Yes, his way of making it happen will differ from ours, but He can see the bigger picture.

I believe that if we will begin to give our dreams back to God and allow Him to arrange for them to become a reality in HIS way instead of trying to do it our own way, we will see marvelous things happen. Our dreams will become a wonderful reality.

Even more, I believe that if we would allow God’s dream for our lives become OUR dream for our lives, even greater things can become a reality for us.

So, ignore the lies and kick fear out the door. Remember that we can do all things through Christ. Give your dreams back to God and let His dreams become your dreams.

Dreams don’t die. Our faith and confidence that they can become a reality dies…. But only if we let them.

Poetry: “Visibly seen”

This is my razor blade life.

It’s sharp and it cuts like

a knife stabbed in my heart.

Shadows in dark corners,

sewn together like pieces

’till no light and no sun

are seen anymore.

And all I’ve ever wanted

is to be visibly seen

by all those around me.

Holding and binding like

chains ’round a box.

Crammed in a crate

like a million sardines.

And all we want

is to be visibly seen.

The words are haunting.

Screams. My ears pierced

by every lie and false

execution of love from

the crowds of black hearts

gathered all around.

Confining in handcuffs.

Smothering with sheets.

And they keep me

from being visibly seen.

They close their eyes tight.

Holding and binding

like chains ’round a box.

Crammed in a crate

like a million sardines.

They make sure we are

not visibly seen.

These are the guards

in my razor blade life.

The ones who won’t

let me grow and be free.

Drowning me in safety

and intentions so cruel.

Being held captive in

basements so cold.

I am demanding

to be visibly seen!

I’ll command your attention,

exclaiming so loud that

you can’t stand not to look!

You’ll be drawn so close,

uncomfortable like sardines.

Now we demand

to be visibly seen!

Finding my voice

I can write a 20-page letter to someone in which I share my deepest secrets and fears. When I write, I can say things that I have never told another soul in my life. If I sit down to talk to another person face to face, you can just forget it. I will sit and stare at that person for hours and not say a word. I don’t understand it. It’s as if my mind freezes up and the words just refuse to come out.

Take the things I have written on this blog for example. I can not imagine saying these things out loud. Possibly, one day, I may just randomly acquire the ability to speak what is on my mind. I have not been able to as of yet.

In fact, I have had to keep journals for therapy and counseling. If it were not for me writing during the time between appointments with the therapists and counselors I have seen, I would not have been able to share any information with them. I have rehearsed conversations in my head before arriving at their offices to prepare myself so that maybe I will find the courage to say the things that I have felt and thought out loud. I have not yet mastered this skill.

My fiancé can confirm this fact. When we first met, I was totally out of my element. We were at my cousins’ house for a housewarming party. I knew most of the people who were present. Most of them were people I had not seen or talked to in years, though. I definitely had not seen them or talked to them since my Tourette’s had become so prominent, and I am sure most of them did not even know that I had been diagnosed with Tourette’s. I know they definitely did not know of the other things I had dealt with over the last several years.

Meeting new people makes me nervous and anxious. So, when my fiancé introduced himself, I was quite backward and seemed very indifferent to him. I was in a fairly large group of people. I was loud and twitchy and just wanted to get somewhere I could let my tics out in full force and be completely comfortable with myself. I try to put on an air of not caring what people think and perceive of me, but I think that if we are all truly and completely honest with ourselves, we all care at least a small bit at times. Perhaps not all the time, but we all find ourselves feeling self-conscious at times.

I have always been terrified of showing my feelings. I guess I am really afraid of being hurt by reactions to what I feel.

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Poetry: “Stories”

Stories written in lines

horizontally, diagonally,

some thick, some thin,

scattered and organized.

Stories I started.

Gruesome and ugly,

sad and distorted,

somber and dreary.

Words carefully engraved,

composed by such pain.

Their purpose unclear

’till the author’s replacing.

Gathering up pages,

recovering the pen,

reconstructing scripts,

yet not erasing history.

My stories, You refine.

Stories written in lines,

scattered, yet organized,

on surfaces of me.

Stories You finish,

bringing them to ends

promising, beautiful,

filled by Your love.