Epiphanies

I’d just like to start this off by saying this post talks about my religious beliefs and I apologize if that makes you uncomfortable. I would also like to make sure you’re aware that I won’t judge anyone for their beliefs, whether you’re Buddhist, Muslim, any form of atheism, and so on, because no matter what you’re still a person and entitled to your own belief system. But that’s not the reason for this post, so here it goes.

Have you ever had an “Ah-ha” moment, where something just seems to click and certain things start making sense? Last Sunday I had one of those moments.

I was at church and something my preacher said made me recognize it was when I was at my worst, when I thought the God I was raised to believe in me had abandoned me, that He was carrying me through the hell I was living in. I used to write every night (all night) and for a while, when things began to get really bad, I even wrote down my prayers. I would beg God to help me, to help me get better, to take away all of the pain and suffering I was going through and save me from my mind, or save me from me. When things seemed to continually get worse I started losing my faith because why would this great and powerful God allow one of the children He’s supposed to love go through so much pain? Despite this I still held onto Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Eventually, when I thought I couldn’t go on any longer, when I was ready to end it all, my psychiatrist determined that I had bipolar disorder, called me on my bullshit, and found a combination of medications that kept me mostly stable. He also found an amazing therapist who I clicked with immediately. With their helped I defied all odds. I somehow managed to graduate high school, hold down a job, and, even though I have to go part time to be successful, I’m going to college and for the most part I’m doing well at it despite working full time and dealing with my mental illnesses.

When I was at church that Sunday it hit me that even though my prayers weren’t answered the way I expected or wanted, they were still answered. He is the reason I found the perfect people to help me, He is the reason I was able to survive, He carried me through and gave me strength when I was at my weakest. All that time that I thought He wasn’t there or that He didn’t care it was Him who kept me alive.

I love the Footprints poem and feel as though it really relates to what I went through.

“The Lord replied, ‘My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.'”

Recovery

Whether you’re a recovering drug addict or alcoholic. Whether you’re recovering from self-harm or an eating disorder. There are countless things that someone could be recovering from but no matter what it is it is still something that at one point controlled our lives. Despite what some might think, this even includes those who have a serious mental illness because that too controlled that individuals life at one point and they still fight it everyday.

For me, it was whatever I could find to either calm the anxiety make me feel happy. My biggest struggles came from self-harm and food issues, for many reasons. But then I’m also dealing with “recovery” from bipolar disorder. I have to keep an eye on my moods every day, take meds to keep them as regulated as possible, there is no day off from this. The more my moods fluctuate the greater my desire to turn to self-harm gets. As I said, it’s a daily battle.

No matter your addiction, mental health condition, or you struggles, you don’t get a day off. It takes a lot of work, recovering and avoiding relapse, but it’s so worth it. Being able to truly live and enjoy life makes the daily battles worth it.

Learning to Love Yourself

When you’re living with a mental illness, or even dealing with an addiction, a huge part of the healing process is learning to love yourself.

Between having bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and dealing with the situation with my stepfather at the time (I talked about this in a previous post), I was angry at myself because I couldn’t help my mom and couldn’t control my mind/emotions. This lead to me taking all of that out on my body. When I was about 16 I brought the idea of this tattoo to my therapist. When she asked me why I wanted it I told her it was because the only reason I hadn’t ended my life yet was because of the people in my family who love me. She responded with a question I never expected to hear, “you know they love you, but can you feel it?” She then explained that I couldn’t really feel that love because I didn’t really love me. I didn’t view myself as being even remotely deserving of love because, in all honesty, I hated myself. So she and I came to the agreement that I wouldn’t get this tattoo until the meaning changed to “I can love myself and because of that I can feel that I am loved.”

It wasn’t an easy journey. I had to first learn to respect myself (including standing up for myself when being wronged, recognizing that my needs and thoughts are important) then came liking myself and then finally loving myself. These were the steps because in order to love yourself you need be able to respect and like yourself first. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always like myself but I can always love myself. I’d be lying if I said I don’t still struggle with all of it, but I just have to keep reminding myself that I can love myself.

When I was 19 (about a year after becoming clean from self-harm) I finally got the tattoo and when the tattoo artist gave me a confused look when I said I wanted it to face me, I explained to him that the tattoo is a message for me and not for everybody else. I don’t mean this negatively towards anyone else I just meant that the tattoo had a special meaning, or message, for me.

It’s a constant reminder that because I can love me I can be loved by others. As I said, it’s a long and very difficult journey, but it is possible. Hopefully those of you who don’t like, or hate, yourselves can make it through that journey because whether you believe it or not, you deserve to be able to love you.