#BLESSED

#BLESSED

Just Google the phrase and millions of hits will appear. Anything from people getting into college, playing another season in the NFL, getting to binge watch their favorite TV shows, etc. It was so hard for me to read the tagline #BLESSED, when  I was walking through my season of grief, mental health issues, suicidality, and job loss. I was scrambling to grab onto something. People kept praying for me to be healed, for a cure for what ailed me. All of the while, it never sat right in my heart. I knew that there was a discord between what I was experiencing and what those around me told me was God’s plan for my life. I was told over and over that God wasn’t making these things happen to me, that his will was that I be delivered from them. It caused me to start searching God’s word. I was trying to make sense of what I was experiencing and compare that to what the world told me my life should look like. I knew in my heart that God was with me in my illness, that he was in control. I didn’t need to ask where God was in my suffering because his word and my experience would lead me to it.

Blessed is an adjective or a noun described in the dictionary as….

blessed – adj. made holy, consecrated

n. those that live with God in heaven

If I simply to stop there. The #BLESSED tagline would be disproven. What modern culture was telling me was blessed was indeed falling very short. It was cheapening the idea of God’s blessing. Next, I looked to the Bible. I was drawn to the Beatitudes.

Beatitudes – Matthew 5:3-12

He (Jesus) said

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

This for sure didn’t align with what the world was telling me but it was closer to what I was experiencing. I was being told from the lips of Jesus that my season of suffering was a season of blessing. However, it still didn’t feel like that was what was happening to me. 

So, how could my ideal of blessing be so off base with what scripture was telling me? I found out that the Greek word that is translated into meaning blessed is makarioi. It means to be fully satisfied. At that moment, it was like the scales were lifted from my eyes. Blessing is anything that draws me into deeper satisfaction with my Savior. Gifting is, instead, what we are seeking. #BLESSED is a representation of a people that are in love with the gifts instead of the Giver. The Beatitudes, as well as hundreds of other scriptures that reference blessing, make sense in light of the Greek translation for blessing. It eliminates the question of “Where is God in my suffering?” I have never experienced the close drawing in of myself to God like I did in my darkest days. I never felt his presence more strongly than when I was at the end of what I knew I could handle on my own. The pain and torment brought me to a place of brokenness where I could see clearly that I could do nothing in my own strength. It was God all along. He was responsible for my waking and my lying down, for my coming and my going. He woke me up everyday and held me together. He gave me the strength to take one more breath, to survive one more day. He wasn’t punishing me. He was saving me. He was stripping away to strongholds in my heart and my mind and turning them into a surrendered life. He was leading me to place of being fully satisfied in him, because I had nothing else. That is why what the world considers the outcasts, God considers the true blessed. They are the ones that truly see. They are the ones that are drawn near to him and transformed. When we stop living our lives for the gifts, instead of the Giver, we can reach a new closeness in our relationship to him. That is where true hope is found. God has not abandoned any one of us. He is near, waiting for us to cling to him instead of what he can give us. If all of your #BLESSINGS were taken away, would you be able to hold your hands to the sky and say, “I am blessed.” Would the cry of your heart be for worldly blessing to return or for spiritual blessing to abound? He is with you in your pain. He sees your struggled. He has called you blessed.

Praise From the Pit

1 August 2016

“I am so grateful for the Jennifer Rothschild bible study. Her words, in “Missing Pieces,” have brought me so much hope and healing. The lesson today brought up not being thankful FOR something but being thankful IN something. Not just enduring something BUT thriving in it.

That is the meaningful transition that I have been on the cusp of. I am so grateful for her words that remind me I am on track. I am learning to praise him, not inspire of Hunter’s death, actually IN Hunter’s death and the aftermath. 

This has been such a challenging journey. The trip home allowed my mother to love on me, which she did flawlessly. My father told me over and over again how important I was to him. This was coupled with feeling like I was a burden and disrupting the order that had developed in my home between my parents, my sister-in-law, and her daughter. I didn’t see the misunderstanding on confusion surrounding my illness to change how family saw me. It did, though. I am grateful that I don’t just experience the good things anymore, but I experience the hard things. That I get to see both sides of people. They are getting to see both sides of me.”

Exposing people to my illness continued to be challenging. When you are mentally ill and grieving, your world seems to hit pause. Honestly, thinking back to those two years, if I hadn’t journaled, I wouldn’t remember any of this. My memories are garbled, faded, and misconstrued. I, honestly, barely remember my youngest first two years. I had snapshots, bits and pieces. It was all a blur of pain and emotion. However, at some point, I began to come up out of the darkness, the pit seemed less and less deep. I began to see the light of day. When I looked back at where I had been, the light began to pierce these places too. I began to see the good and the bad. The more I looked back, and as I got healthier, the more good I could see. I was not so alone. At the time, it seemed like the worst things that could be happening to me. There was no good, no light. When people tried shining light into my pain, I recoiled. I didn’t want to hear their Bible verses, or words on encouragement. They seemed so shallow, and like they were coming out of the mouths of people that couldn’t possibly understand. Those moments, those positive moments, did stick somewhere in the darkness. The truths were ignored at the time, but they made an impression. When I began to see light again, it was if a veil began to lift. I stopped seeing myself as a victim. I started to see the positive that could come from my illness. They ways that it could be used to glorify the Lord. I began to hope. And a little hope could change a life.

Nature’s Gift

Romans 8:22-39

23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[b]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[c] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I have missed you all so much. My little kiddos are heading back to school, and I can finally take a breath and connect with you again. I have been in a mixed season the last few weeks. I am weaning off medications, I am almost done. I have gained weight because of it and it has been hard on me mentally. I am sending my kids off to school and the crazy is slowing a little. We are getting back to a routine. I have missed blogging and reaching out from my daily grind to interact with you all. I had really been mentally low until I read this passage the other day. It was water to my soul. It was a good reminder that we are all spiritually groaning. I am not alone. the world is groaning with me. I sometimes feel impatient in my longing, ready to feel like I have arrived. That is where my God comes in. He steps in an intercedes for me. Nothing can separate me from his love. Did you catch that? NOTHING! Let’s shout it out. NOTHING! What a relief, what a blessing. These words, I have overlooked so many times before, in my defeat. Mental illness can feel like that. Like defeat. It takes all we know and love. It skews out reality. BUT GOD, he swoops in and intercedes, he swoops in and saves, he swoops in and loves. Through him I am more than a conquerer. That is a good word. I encourage you to let that penetrate your heart today.

In the midst of this time, God has been gracious. He introduced something new to help me in this season. As a nurse practitioner, I cling to medication. I have had it drilled into my head that it is what can heal, that it is what can save. Others have suggested other things but I so often cast them aside. I want you to bear with me. To here my story, even though it may have been suggested before. I don’t offer this as medical advice, but as hope. Hope that something else may offer healing, that even as we come off or change medications, that there may be something to stand in the gap. 

I have tried essential oils before, well, not really tried. I may have put them on once, thought I was even more crazy than had already been confirmed and walked away. As I weaned off my psychiatric medications, I wanted to have something to stand in that void. The slow to weaning process. To offer support. I decided to give these “crazy oils” a try. I had heard stories about their success, but thought they were for the naieve. I assumed it was the positive thinking that was really the culprit. However, I started reading. I got on pubmed, listening to some actual medical doctors, and realized they are real. These plants, trees, and roots have been used for thousands of years. They are potent, natural, and even the medical community is using them. They are studying their effects. You can log on PubMed, a medical journal database, and research currents studies utilizing them to help manage symptoms. So, I decided this time, I was not just going to try. I found a reputable brand., Young Living. They follow their source from the seed to the bottle. They control every ounce of planning, extracting, and bottling. That was important to me, I didn’t want to use a product that left room for error or short cuts. Then, I listened to others stories. Finally, I jumped in head first. I got a starter kit with the most commonly used oils. I joined a group of women near where I live that is called The Oily Sisterhood. There are 6,000 members, and they are lead by a medical doctor. This was so important to me, I wanted to learn from someone who didn’t buy in because others told her to. I wanted facts, cold hard information, on bioavilability, neurotransmitters, absorption. I, also, committed. I was not going to rub them on once and stop, if I didn’t see results. This is where I missed out before. Oils take time to absorb into the body and build up to a therapeutic level in the blood. The results were powerful.

Panaway and Copaiba – I use it in a roller with carrier oil, fractionated coconut oil, and rub it on my foot. I have an injury that was so painful, I was limping. I was going to go to the orthopedic specialist and consider a boot or surgery. It was taking me 1000 mg of ibuprofen just to walk. Within two weeks of rolling this on the injury sit, I noticed that I could reduce my intake of ibuprofen. Today, I rolled it on before and after the gym and didn’t need any ibuprofen.

Progessence Plus and Lady Sclerol – I use this in a roller with carrier oil and use it on my abdomen and inner thighs. My periods have normalized, my acne decreased, and my hair stopped falling out after a month of use. Last period I still had severe cramping and heavy bleeding. I will let you know if this improves.

Any citrus – Used for mood boosting. I use it in a roller and I diffuse with lavender during the day. It boosts m mood and calms me during anxiety attacks.

Lavendar, Tranquil, and Release – used at night before bed in a diffuser and I roll it on to help with sleep. Immupro is a supplement I have had recommended to help me with sleep that I will try in a month or so. 

Peppermint – under my nose and on my wrists in the morning to wake me up. My sleep meds make it hard for me to get up in the morning, this has been a huge help. I recommend putting it in a carrier oil.

Endoflex, myrrh, and geranium – I use these in a roller bottle with carrier oil and rub it on my thyroid in the morning. My sin has been less dry, less constipation, less foggy brain. All side effects of having autoimmune thyroid disease.

Slique products – These are from Young Living to help curb appetite and promote weight loss. I have been using them a week and notice significant decrease in my appetite. As well, the supplements and tea have helped my stomach. I have had debilitating pain almost daily after eating, no matter if I am gluten free or only on whole foods. This has helped with digestion and I am usually pain free. I will likely stay on these to promote digestive healing, no matter if I need them to help with the weight I have gained from my medications.

Ningxia Red – a super food drink that is comprised of wolfberries. This has been super helpful with my stomach and digestion as well. I may be having some improvement in overall health from this, but I cant be sure whether it is the drink or my improvement from the other supplements. Regardless, it is packed with nutrients and promotes over all wellness.

I can’t say enough good about the oils that I have used so far. I am glad I gave them another try. They are not to be used in place of medical advice and care but are a great adjunct. Please message me if you have any personal questions. I would love to help you get started and give any advice I can. More of my story to come in future posts.

Cut Down

July 30, 2016

“I just finished week 2 of Jennifer Rothschild’s “Missing Pieces” bible study. I just love resting in the word. Trusting more and leaning on him to give me my daily manna. Not just this, but I need to be content with the manna for the day, not seeking the next thing. 

This is a major trend of mine. “The Next Thing,” not the humble heart of contentedness and trust in God. I do feel God slowing me down, so I can step into a place of healing and growth. God has not abandoned me. He knows my hurt and my weakness. This is no surprise.”

August, 1, 2016

“I am so grateful for the bible study I am doing. It has brought so much hope and healing. The lesson today brought up not being thankful FOR something but being thankful IN something. Not just enduring it but thriving in it. 

That is the meaningful transition I have been on the cusp of. I am so grateful for her words that remind me that I am on track. I am learning to praise him, not in spite of Hunter’s death but actually praising him IN Hunter’s death and  the aftermath. 

This has been such a challenging journey. My trip home allowed my mom to love on me, which she did flawlessly. My father told me over and over how important I was to him….

There was a lot of pain that I documented during this time related to the terrible things my brother’s wife did and said to me after Hunter died and while I was sick. To respect her, I am not going to post the details, but my entry glazes over this and I want you to know what it is referencing…..

My family’s parenting of my sister in law and her daughter left me feeling like a big mean step sister. I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t expecting to feel like I was invading and ruining her perfect life. I didn’t expect my family to misunderstand my suffering, suicide attempts, and hospital stay with anything but compassion. But I am grateful to have gone through that and to see both sides of people. 

My northern family understands my loss of Hunter but don’t see how sick I was, when I attempted suicide. In the south, they saw my sickness but didn’t realize the amount of loss I experienced.”

Contendedness was so hard during my season of suffering. When life is falling apart, you long for something to be stable, to be good. When it feels like multiple areas are falling apart. It becomes too overwhelming. I strove to stabilize my faith, my husband’s job, my accumulation of more. It just wasn’t within my grasp. The harder I fought, the deeper the lows became. It would not be until I began to surrender my expectations and loosen my grip on how I thought my life should go that peace began to invade my life again. Time in the word and restoration of my faith was the crux of this. When I began to see the good in my suffering, that God was good in the seemingly bad times as well as the good, life began to fall back into place. I had to stop being thankful FOR things and start to be thankful IN things. 

Seeing family was hard in the beginning. My sister in law and her daughter lived with my parents. Going home seemed strange. It didn’t feel like my house anymore. It felt like someone had stepped in and taken my spot. However, my parents were very good at sharing their love for me and being more intentional. My relationship with my sister in law became very harmful. She ended up becoming a horrible trigger. When  I would go home, it was as if she was competing for attention with my parents. I had never experienced this before. My brother and I didn’t compete. We wanted the best for each other in everything. At first the relationship was cordial, even friendly. As I became sick, the attacks began. She began to mock my illness and my suffering. She would say things like, “You didn’t really try to commit suicide, because if you wanted to die you would have cut yourself differently.” It was crippling. All I wanted to do was go home to a safe place, and it didn’t feel safe anymore. 

I, however, wanted her to change. To stop behaving in a way that would trigger me. I felt powerless against her attacks and blows. In the end, this was not what helped lead to my healing. It was typical to my personality, I wanted difficult things to stop or I wanted to run away. I didn’t have fight in me. It wasn’t until I began to work on myself and see her brokenness that the claws of this trigger would loosen their grip. I had to see who I was in Christ and step into my true identity. I had to stop allowing others brokenness to define me. I had to see my parents relationship with my and remember my brother’s relationship with me separate from my relationship with her. I want to encourage you, if you have someone in your life that tears you down and seems to cripple you. That is not your identity. You are not trapped or defined by that person. You can be free. You can stop running and find the strength within. Ask God to show you who you are in him. Recite these truths to yourself and hide them in your heart. Then, walk in this freedom.

The World kept on Turning

June 27, 2016

“I have been in Pennsylvania with  my family for four days. I did not bring any of the kids but Judah. It has been so hard. My family both here and away has been so supportive. I just continue to feel like a failure. Taking care of Judah twenty four hours a day has been so hard. I have not taken care of any of my children for a full twenty four hours since Judah was born. I went to see my best friend from high school on my second day here. Their new house was amazing. My friend was adorable and pregnant with her first baby. Life looked good for them. When I left, I began to cry and called her to apologize for not acting like myself. She was so wonderfully understanding. I cried the entire way home. I hate being sick and I hate being reminded that I am.

Yesterday we went to my aunt and uncle’s pool. It was lovely, my aunt didn’t know I had tried to commit suicide until I was there. Afterwards, she told me she heard a pastor say that suicide was the most selfish thing you could ever do. It hurt me to the core. I just never thought anyone could ever think that about what I did. Her friend was there. She was such a blessing. She lost a sister, had depression , and had contemplated suicide. She defended me. What a praise! 

Today, I woke up feeling depressed and like a failure.”

The road to recovery is rocky. You never know what each day will bring. Some are easy and smooth, others harder. Even when the meds are working, there will be bad days. Bad days were so hard for me. They scared me. I was constantly worried about a replace. Never knowing what the next five minutes would hold or where triggers would come from was paralyzing. 

Seeing my friends and family moving forward with their lives was crippling. It wasn’t their fault. They were just living their lives, but when you experience trauma, your world stops.  You go into survival mode and the world keeps turning. People get married, have babies, buy houses, graduate college, get raises, go on vacations. It feels like punch to the gut to see others blossoming when you are falling into the pit. Those two years, are almost completely lost in my mind. If it wasn’t for my journal, I wouldn’t even remember them. I even lost the first two years of my baby’s life. Someone just asked me yesterday whether he was a good baby, an easy baby. I can’t remember. It was as if time froze for two years, and when I opened my eyes, everything had changed. It was almost as if I was living someone else’s life, when I got back into the real world. My friends babies were now two, jobs had changed, people got married, people moved, people were pregnant. 

It was so hard to know how to plug back in. People didn’t understand what I was feeling. They didn’t know how to react. They some kind things and some cruel things. It was hard. I felt outcast, like I didn’t fit in anymore. Though, I couldn’t remember if I ever really had. My life had changed, I had changed, but the world had kept on moving without me.

Martha

June 6, 2016

“We just returned from a weekend together at Dollywood Dreammore Resort. We spent three nights and it was great. We went to Splash Country twice and Dollywood once. The kids had a blast! We had sitters come along to help. It was much needed. With all four, Brian and I got little to no sleep at all. That is par for the course. Having these little ones so close together can be a little chaotic. Extra hands are always welcome. 

I used to enjoy that people said, “I don’t know how she does it, or, You’re supermom.” I have learned that while it takes great stamina and a “go getter” personality to achieve being able to do things alone, what’s the payout? I had accumulated physical, emotional, and psychological exhaustion. Being placed in a mental health facility. It takes courage and humility to admit you need help. I am learning there is nothing wrong with it. I know God designed us for community and raising our families should be in community.”

This was one of the bigger lessons I learned from being sick. I am grateful that the Lord let me hit rock bottom, so I would no squander the rest of my life. I had bought into the lie that so many women do. “You have to do it all, do it alone, and look good doing it.” Almost all of the women in the facility with me had the same problem, we were overachievers. This is not biblical, it is from the enemy. Without margin in our lives, Satan traps us. He isolates us, takes our time away from focusing on the Lord, and leaves us utterly exhausted. Unfortunately, with social media, it is easier than ever before to believe that this is what normal should look like, believing we are not fulfilling our duty as a woman unless we are maxed out.

Luke 10: 38-42 is a beautiful picture of this. It is the biblical history of Jesus meeting with Mary and Martha. Martha was busy preparing the house, cleaning, cooking, etc. She was doing it all on her own. She even believed that what she was doing was the best choice. Performance was the stick with which she measured her success. She, however, was tired. She needed help. She was so consumed with what she was doing she didn’t stop to rest with Jesus, she wanted to push through and for Mary to join her. At the feet of Jesus she found her truth. 

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Don’t we often do what Martha did? We are overwhelmed and weary. We are consuming ourselves with doing. When we need help, we don’t ask for help so we can take a step back, we ask for help to bring someone else into our overwhelming circumstances. 

The Lord showed me what he revealed to Martha. What Mary already knew. If we consume ourselves with the doing, and the island mentality, we will miss out on the Savior of the universe. We will push through our days. We will not stop and cling to him in every moment of our lives, we will not be surrendering to him. We will begin to believe that we need him less than we do. We will begin to slide ourselves onto the throne of our lives and push Christ aside. Martha was in Jesus’s presence and all she could think of was duty. The next thing. She was more concerned with impressing the Savior of the world than learning from him, than resting in him. 

I wonder what happened next. The Bible doesn’t tell us. Did Martha fall at Jesus’s feet? Did she change her ways? Did she repent? We don’t know. But the question is not as much about Martha as it is about us. What will you do? Will you hear the call of your Savior to created margin in your life? Will you say “no” to more and “yes” to less? Will you sit and snuggle with your kids, turn off the TV, listen to the silence, enjoy your child’s birthday rather than trying to impress the guests, play more games, throw away the “to-do” list, observe the beauty God created? When people ask what you are doing, will you be content to say, “nothing?” Will you stop today and rest at the feet of your Savior. Not just for ten minutes during your quiet time, but as a discipline? There is a more full, better life waiting at the feet of Jesus, waiting in the margin, the quiet still moments. It is filled with rest, peace, and joy. When did you last feel these things? If you don’t know, maybe you are being like Martha. Pray and ask God to reveal to you what resting at his feet looks like. Don’t miss it.

Forgiveness

June 1, 2016

“This journey is so long and tiring. I am overwhelmed at times but my mood is stable. My medications are helping so much. I think we finally found a great combination of medication. My fatigue comes and goes. I am finally spending more time with the kids. I am so glad.

Hunter’s autopsy report came back. I only read the summary. I decided to wait on reading the full report. It was traumatizing for Brian and my family to read. I don’t want to retraumatize myself. On Sunday, at church, I finally got to the place where I forgive the doctors and nurses who were responsible for Hunter’s death. The reason being a report from one of our missionaries in the Philippines. The missionary shared that little girls who had been sold by their parents to do sexual favors for men in the Philippines. The very men who were supposed to be helping them. These girls were forgiving these men. If these precious girls could forgive someone that brutalized them, I can forgive the people that killed my brother. I suspected, however, I may change my mind after reading the autopsy. So, I decided not to read it.”

Learning more details about Hunter’s death was what I believed held the key to my healing. I thought the more facts I had, the better off I would be. The more time that passed, I realized that the answers weren’t the key to my recovery. It was my forgiveness of these people and the forgiveness of God that would lead to that freedom. Others have forgiven people for far worse. Forgiveness, I also realized, wasn’t something that would happen all at once. Forgiveness would be more progressive. It would come in bits and pieces. Honestly, it wasn’t based on others at all. I used to think I could forgive, if I knew that these people were sorry. In the end, it wasn’t true, it was me. My ability to forgive was intrinsic. It was a letting go, a trusting.  It was ultimately between me and the Lord. I had to trust him that his plan was perfect and better than my own. As well, I was forgiven. I received my salvation and freedom through forgiveness. My sins were blotted out as far as the East is from the West. It wasn’t based on how well I performed or a list of qualifications. My forgiveness was based totally on my heavenly father’s unconditional love for me. If I was forgiven much, I must forgive others much. Someday, I hope to see some of the people that killed my brother and to be able to forgive them to their faces. I want them to walk in freedom and to experiences the peace that comes with that. If they ever read these, I want them to know they are forgiven completely. 

My Puzzle Piece

May 19, 2016

“Another time in the Ingles parking lot with a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato. Today is Maddox’s Creek Stomp field trip.  I am so grateful I feel well enough to go today. Praise be to God! I hope and pray that this continues and that Latuda continues to work well. I am so thankful for the time to spend with the Lord. Time for healing that my husband and family has been a part of. I am worried about Judah. He has been fussy compared to usual. Two days ago he vomited three times. He fusses with his formula but drinks lots of pedialyte. It leads me to think he may be intolerant. I want him to feel well again and I am praying for healing. 

I am grateful, today, for life and the love of my Savior.”

May 23, 2016

“Dear Hunter,

I miss you more than I have missed anything in my whole life. I feel like I fell asleep and woke up to half of my body missing. It is traumatizing, hard to understand, painful. I am loosing you. I can’t feel you. It is like the movie, Back to the Future. I feel like Marty McFly looking at the picture of his siblings in childhood and they are slowly fading away. You feel just beyond reach. My love for you is just as big as ever. 

I love you everyday, every moment. Everything reminds me of you. I am scared of the future without you. I wish you were here so we could grow old together. I love you so deeply, in a way I see others don’t understand. I am torn between being grateful for that love and aching from the pain of that love. I hate that getting to see you again means never being a part of this world again. The trade is not right. I am still needed here. But, so are you. What do you think about what is happening? Do you agree with the trial over medical malpractice? How can we gain from your loss? I wish I could understand God’s plan the way you do now. I wish I could embrace you one last time. I know I will recover but not seeing you one last time will haunt me until the end of my days. 

I wear you now. You travel with me. I have to be your now. I represent you to our family. We are like two puzzle pieces. I cant be you but my edges match you. You are seen because I am marked with your form.”

Getting better and improving on my medication was a breath of fresh air. It gave me hope that there was a future for me. Transitioning away from breastfeeding to formula was hard. It was emotionally hard on me and physically hard on Judah. My kids all have significant dairy intolerance. I felt robbed. I felt angry. It was another way the doctor’s and medical staffs mistakes took from me. In their mind it was a singular mistake. They couldn’t see the ripple. The way their mistakes spread like a toxin, hurting everything in its path. It would take forever to come to grips with my grief and anger. I knew I had to forgive the people that contributed to his death, but I was not yet there. I will say the anger gained me nothing. Forgiveness would be freedom, freedom to move forward and heal. That still, however, felt like a betrayal of Hunter. I owed him that anger, as irrational as it sounds because he wasn’t here to be angry for what was taken from him. I was trapped by my pain, I would have to let it go.

The abyss inside my soul was still there. I wasn’t carrying his memory. I was consumed with it. My life drastically changed. I felt like I took on a  new roll with his death. I was, now, an only child. All of my parents hopes, dreams, and fears fell on me. I longed for another sibling to confide in. People often forget about the sibling. Everyone was consumed with my parents grief and my sister-in-laws grief. People note it, address it. Rarely do people think about the siblings. They sit on the side, in the shadows. Broken, never the same. They take on the weight of their lost siblings identity. It is such a pressure. Their grief hurts their parents. So, they feel the burden of needing to act like everything is okay. They feel the need to put on a brave face, when they are breaking inside. The stress and pressure to be all things to all people to fill in the void left by their sibling is suffocating. 

I am glad I chose to feel my pain. So many push their pain aside. They try to move forward because others think that they should. They feel pressure to be okay or to grieve the right way. I grieved terribly. It was all consuming and life taking but it was my way. I didn’t act how I believed I should, but I felt every aching moment. I am not glad for all that I went through but I am glad I grieved my best way. I can look back at the journey and see the fingerprints of God, sitting with in my pain all along the way.

A Starbucks Employee

May 12, 2016

 “I am doing horribly. My mood has dipped from anxiety into depression. Brian has become short with me and I can not take it. I don’t want to do this to my family again. I don’t want to go through inpatient again.  The thought literally takes my breath from my lungs. The pain and darkness sneaks up so quickly. I really thought I was going to be healed. Now I feel hopeless. I don’t want to go through this again. I am upset because I was doing well, then we changed my meds. Now, I am worse. I am angry. Why wont God heal me now?”

May 18, 2016 

“I am just sitting here and writing in the Ingles parking lot. I got myself Starbucks. It is so crazy that the Starbucks employee named Hunter is gone. I first noticed him on my first night of Grief Share, when I stopped going to Grief Share, he was no longer an employee. 

I have switched to a new medicine called Latuda. I feel a lot better and more like myself. I started it on Saturday night. My taste has returned. I can taste sweet things again. My body feels more calm again. I don’t feel as anxious. My weight gain is under control again. 

I am able to pray and begin growing in my relationship with God again. I am so glad. I am in a place where I feel God molding me into a better version of myself. I feel more peaceful, emotionally invested, and desiring to focus on others. It is a good place.”

What a difference a week and some new medication can make. It demonstrates the effect of being on the wrong medications. Trust yourself, when your medications aren’t making you feel the way you know you should. There are different drugs and better ones. No one can predict what medication will work for what person and how. Only time and trial and error will help. Make sure you are with a psychiatrist who understands this and is willing to work with you.  Latuda was such a great medication for me. I knew I needed a mood stabilizing medicine after such an improvement when starting Risperdal. Saphris was an absolute disaster. Latuda became my drug of choice. I would remain on it for the duration of my treatment.

Grief Share was such a great experience. The first night was so scary for me. I drove to the church and turned around. I decided I wasn’t ready and went to Starbucks for a coffee. My barista’s name was Hunter. He even looked like a high school version of my brother. I don’t believe in coincidence. So, I took it as a sign that Hunter was with me and drove back to Grief Share. Grief Share is a program that can be found in many churches across the country. The curriculum was written by a couple that lost three of their children.  The now run retreats across the country to help parents that have lost a child. I didn’t fit in well at Grief Share. It was mostly widows with a few parents who lost older children. However, my story gripped these people. A few precious widows drew around me and gave me such great support. It was such a blessing. However, as my mental illness developed I found  that I couldn’t keep going. I wanted to withdraw from social situations. So, I stopped going. The last night I went, Hunter was no longer an employee of Starbucks. He had worked every shift during my time at Grief Share. It felt like my journey with Grief Share was over, at least for a season. So, I said goodbye and moved along on my journey. 

A Misplaced Zero

May 11, 2016

“The past few days have gone well. I feel like I am starting to get back to myself. We went to church on Sunday. It was wonderful. I do feel healing is coming. It will take time. My heart aches over Hunter’s death. I still cant believe he is gone. It feels more tangible now that I am recovering. It makes me want to push back. The void is too great. 

We found out there was a mistake in Hunter’s chart. Hunter was receiving 2 mg of Dilaudid instead of 0.2mg. The doctor didn’t write the “0” first. They, also, pushed it all at once, instead of over 5-10 minutes. His BP was dropping in the hours before he died, but they ignored it. Heartbreaking.

Symptoms: 

10lbs. weight gain since starting Saphris

loss of taste (as it dissolves orally)

memory trouble

constantly thinking of new projects

racing thoughts

increased anxiety

wanting to work out for hours

wanting to buy everything

I am stressed out, anxious, and not doing well. After I got home from the Griffith’s (dropping off the kids), I was not doing well. All day, I had been working on tasks around the house, moving busily from one thing to the next, not wanting to think obsessively about projects, vacations, or financial needs. Right before Brian got home I weighed myself. I had gained almost 10 lbs. in a week and a half. I tipped my mood. I was anxious and wanting to stop eating and go exercise. I don’t want to stay on a medicine that damages my ability to taste and causes weight gain. I decided to use the elliptical for 30 minutes, after an hour and a half of yoga. Then, I went to take care of the baby. I can feel my mood tipping from anxiety to depression. I am fearing going back to UNC. I am afraid I might not get better, though I feel like the Lord revealed to me heal me.”

Changing medications and finding the right combinations is incredibly stressful and anxiety provoking. Each one giving hope of feeling better than on the last but also waiting until it reveals what side effects it will give you. Psychiatric medication prescribing is not a science. It is not as cut and dry as other specialties. There is so much trial and error. As well, the medication is chemically changing your brain. This leads to your entire body reacting. The side effects are sometimes tolerable and other times distressing. Saphris was horrible for me. It was more distressing than tremors and not being able to walk. Uncontrolled weight gain with loss of taste and not enjoying food was terrifying. I couldn’t wait to get off of it. Luckily, my psychiatrist saw how it was affecting me and changed my medication immediately.  To anyone trying to find the right combination of medications. Be patient, document symptoms and side effects so you can really see how things are affecting you. Be honest with your psychiatrist or medical provider about how these medications make you feel. Their job is to help you find the right combination so you can begin healing. I know it can feel so distressing that you actually feel worse than before you started, but the right combination will give you the life you dream of, push through.

Finding out some of the truth about Hunter was both refreshing and crippling. In the months to come, we would find out details that would let us know that the perfect storm of events had taken place to lead to Hunter’s death, However, it was sickening to find out the misplaced zero was all it took to take my brother’s life. As a nurse, they give you tests where all you have to do is write in a zero to remind you how important it is. That someone could be so careless when writing the prescription and reading the results led me to such frustration. As well, his blood pressure was decreasing and they ignored it. It confirmed what we had thought, his death was preventable. If you still have more questions about what happened, you should. It would take months for us to find out all of the details.