I was reading an article about Michelle Payne, the jockey from the biopic movie, Ride Like a Girl, and I was surprised to read how challenging her life was. Her mother was killed when Michelle was a baby, leaving 10 children motherless. Another sibling died not long after birth and her sister also died after falling from off a horse; and the challenge of her brother’s Down Syndrome diagnosis. How she and her family overcame such adversity is really remarkable and I’m not surprised that a movie has been about her.
I was thinking about her father and thought that I wouldn’t have been able to cope.
But I recalled something I’ve read - God gives us graces enough for now. Not for tomorrow, next week, or even for 5 minutes time. Just enough for this very moment.
I think we look at our challenges as a whole and find this overwhelming. Do you know someone that finds it hard to face school, work or just cope with day to day life? Someone struggling with anxiety or depression may find simple tasks in life a challenge. But almost always, they do it, don’t they? They just cope despite the struggle and pain. That’s God’s grace giving them what they need for that moment. Not for the next day or for a weeks time.
And not by necessarily just taking it all away either. I’ve been guilty of expecting the big sudden change, and wondered at times where God was. He was always there, giving me the strength to move forward, literally minute by minute. Not making it painless but giving me ability to walk on despite pain.
God is not past nor future. He is always now. Meeting us in our need, NOW. Our loss of peace now, is not so much our challenge or adversity, it is our preoccupation with ourselves in this challenge, and our lack of acceptance of ourselves. We fight it...why me, this is not me, I can’t do this...instead of surrendering to God now, and trusting in His grace to get us through the next moment.
And His grace is sufficient for now only. Sometimes He gives us just enough to get us moving, not a whole lot extra. But when we need a whole lot extra, that will come then too.
Find peace in not seeing or knowing too far ahead. Find peace in being blindly lead 🌺
I want to talk to you... you who are feeling constant agitation, your mind cloudy, and you who feel that you’re drowning in the deepest and darkest ocean, finding it difficult to lift your head above the enormous waves. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I want to talk to you... you who fights their reality. Who cannot accept their emotions, and their pain. You, who can comfort another person with a genuine empathetic heart, and who can accept other people’s challenges but cannot give an inch of compassion to themselves.
I want to talk to you... you who thinks “this is not me. I’m better/stronger/more capable than this.” You who are so preoccupied with perfection of self, trying so hard to be in control, and who closely monitors their feelings with frustration and fear.
I want to talk to you... you who puts a smile on their face although they feel a tornado inside. You who feels like a fraud when someone pays them a compliment because “if only they knew how flawed I really am...” right?
I want to talk to you...you who compares themselves to everyone else through a distorted idealistic lens ... “they know better/do better/are better than me.”
I want to talk to you...you who are trying, So... Damn...Hard.
I know how you feel. I have felt it all.
We’re all broken and we’re all humans. We all struggle in some way. If only you knew how many people do and how many people feel as you do.
Look at this as an opportunity to learn about yourself. To learn patience, gentleness and to abandon yourself to God. He does not permit unnecessary suffering, and his power manifests itself in our weakness. We need challenges because adversity breeds strength and strength breeds character.
Don’t listen to the lies, turn your back on your thoughts. Not once or twice, but every day. Talk to someone. Keep going and never give up. You are courageous because you’ve come this far. And carrying this takes enormous strength. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Above all... pray. That you may see yourself how God sees you. His beloved. As a Father sees his little child for whom his heart bleeds and for whom he wishes to carry to safety, if only they let Him talk to them🌺
I was in Church and a disturbing and anxious thought shot up in my brain. I was taken aback because prior to that moment I wasn’t stressed about anything; I was deeply into the mass, and feeling at one in communion. I became uncomfortable and tried to push the thought away...of course my mind took that as a cue to play around and it began to fish for more anxious thoughts that it knew would bother me. The more frustrated I became, the more that anxiety rose, and the more anxious thoughts it created. Annoyed, I barely heard the homily as I tried to gather myself back to the moment.
Just then I heard the priest talk about God wanting us to be strong...’ Put on your armour of Christ, there is nothing He can’t conquer.’ I’m a big believer in signs so when I heard that, I felt that God was telling me not to be swept by the negativity, but to draw on His strength. I pulled out some old tools, reminded myself that the thoughts are like passing clouds, they’re created from fear, and the more attention I paid them, the worse they’d be. I said quietly to my brain ‘not today, thanks.’ I gave space for the feelings to subside and peace came over me.
Not everybody is vulnerable to this, and some of us may need to work a little harder at times. And that’s ok. We’re all broken in some way, struggling with pride, anger, impatience, jealousy to having addictions, anxiety or depression. Show me a perfect person, and I’ll show you Christ! So we don’t see our challenges or our humanity as flawed, rather when we can accept it all stems from our brokenness, the better we can handle them, and then we can be in a place of transformation.
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is so important. It allows God to work in us and it allows us to feel the need for His strength. There is no shame in this. It saddens me when people see the struggle with their mind as being weak or that they’re not normal. I can tell you that yes, I’ve had moments of difficulty and struggle over the years, but I can’t tell you how I’ve come to realise my own strength, and my faith in God. I believe that once we can see our vulnerability as a gift, then we can truly see ourselves as perfectly as God sees us 🌺
We are all broken. All of us. In some way or another. If we weren’t, we would be perfect, and that’s impossible here on earth.
Yet many of us (me!) can struggle with perfectionism or idealism. Ironically, this doesn’t mean we do everything perfectly, rather we can have this uneasy feeling of not being good enough or measuring up or doing things the right way. We must have missed the memo! It’s stifling and a huge issue, no wonder anxiousness and depression runs rampant.
In getting to know Jesus more and deepening my faith, I expected to feel immediately wonderful and enlightened.
It really triggered that weak part of me, and I had a deeper sense of being imperfect, of not being good enough and I began comparing myself with others. I easily slipped into an idealistic view of how truly faithful people must be, and here’s me screaming (putting it nicely) at my kids, ticking every sinful box, (does hiding in the bathroom with a family-size chocolate bar count as gluttony?). I get frustrated and impatient. This is certainly not the view that fits into the neat little box in my head.
The reality is that we’ll never be complete, or whole until we reach Heaven. I dare say we are perfect now with our weaknesses and failings. This is what life is. It’s messy and gritty. Do we stop trying then and become complacent? No! Everyday we must face ourselves as we are, face the parts of us we don’t like and wish were different.
But we can allow God to work with us and through us, lifting us to make the effort to strive no matter how many times we fall. Let’s keep moving and trying for better, for a richer life. Not in a self-abusing way or in a way where we allow the negative thoughts to discourage us and disqualify us. We can’t do this alone. Pray as if it’s up to God, work as if it’s up to you.
Gosh I’m not perfect, far from it, my struggles are like yours; but surely we can be grateful for the lessons learned. Empathy to feel with others, courage and strength to face difficulty and Hope for eternity which is promised to us. Hope. It’s not about having a life without struggle but having Hope amidst that struggle... that’s a good place to start.
There’s been so much tragedy on the news lately, so much weighing down the world. It makes it especially difficult when one tragic event or bad news overlaps another. You feel your emotions get back into check until another bit of news slaps the other cheek. It’s hard to escape with instant headlines, posts and shares over social media. And there’s always that person who keeps you updated on who’s sick or dying or divorcing! The world can seem a little bit hopeless again and you wonder what’s good out there?
I was once a believer that our minds could handle anything and it was a show of strength when you could be exposed to these things and not be affected... that it’s up to us to work on realistic thinking!
While there’s truth in this, I think we need to help our minds along a bit. Our minds are very powerful when used correctly, but there’s a side to them, that when gaps open and darkness and constant negativity or tragedy enter, it can and will affect thinking patterns and therefore moods.
Instead, we can choose to focus on light. It’s not a sign of weakness or not being able to cope. I also don’t think that it means we’re burying our heads in the sand and being out of touch with the outside world, as some people might have you believe. Unfortunately the darkness and negative aspects of the world will continue whether we focus on them or not. We are making a choice to fill ourselves with light.
We’re better off offering a prayer for peace in the world, a genuine heartfelt prayer for the healing of everyone’s mind, body and soul. Let’s make a conscious choice to focus on the good around us. When we do this we can find that it’s the little things we usually miss...little miracles of the day...Someone letting you in the traffic or queue, or a smile from a passing stranger, a warm hug, a heart conversation or general kindness and goodness that’s around us; what we miss with our ‘big picture’ mind that unfortunately hooks onto dark (it’s in our trajectory that our minds work this way). Let’s make a conscious effort to let go of tragedy, choose to switch off, scroll past that post on social media, miss the news, pray for people and look towards God.
Some challenges that we have or hear of seem unnecessary; and we struggle to see why they need to happen. They can seem pointless.
I have seen this in the last few weeks.
Sudden/tragic deaths of loved ones, illnesses of children, loving couples unable to conceive. Why? Why is this God’s plan?
When I was working through recovery I was told that it was important to find a reason in all of this suffering. Our lives were not meant to be easy that’s for sure! If God can’t take it away from us, then pray that He gives us the courage to face it.
I felt that this was a good way to look at it- it gives me a great source of comfort. I naively once believed that praying was my golden ticket to a desirable result. I know I prayed a thousand prayers to turn me into a Saint when I was at my darkest time! And it wasn’t taken away from me as quickly as I thought it would that’s for sure!
But I know He gave me the courage to face it. I needed to go through it for reasons that became clear later.
For other situations above it may not be so clear now. But perhaps not being able to conceive means having the freedom to share your time or skill.
Or having an unwell child makes you and others around you appreciate the fragility of life; and the new knowledge you can share saves another’s life. Or experiencing grief means you are a support for others who experience grief. It may seem trivial but your purpose may be to help just one person.
It makes sense why people who face insurmountable tragedies begin support groups to help others.
My saviour once suffered greatly... she was actively suicidal, clinically depressed, institutionalised, agoraphobic and so on. Years of suffering lead to recovery, which lead to her writing books, starting associations, helping thousands of anxiety and depression sufferers to recover, and teaching them to help others. All of this a result of her darkness. When I asked her about this she said, “Well I’m fortunate for what I’ve done now, but I could’ve done without the lesson!”
Honest and true. We can all do without such ‘lessons’. We can only try to see reason behind it, some purpose, and turn it into SOMETHING. Perhaps then we will see God’s plan🌺
The way to recovery for me was a shift of perception. On how I viewed my anxiety. What helped me was seeing my life in a bucket, filled with stresses and worry and responsibility. This full bucket was causing me to be unsettled. Not necessarily anxious but not at peace either.
At my most difficult time, when I was suffering from daily anxiety, my bucket was overflowing. I had reached my stress threshold and my bucket couldn’t hold anymore. The overflowing bucket was causing all the difficult anxiety symptoms. It’s when we don’t see this, overlook the cause and focus on that flowing anxiety, that keeps it alive and makes us feel stuck in a vicious cycle.
There are two things that keep the bucket flowing. The fear of the flow (symptoms) and whatever filled the bucket in the first place. When we try to ‘get rid’ of the anxiety with lots of bandaid options out there, then it may stop the bucket flowing for a bit, but it keeps us on edge that it’ll flow again. We all have a stress threshold and some reach theirs quicker than others.
Some lucky people never reach it and can handle a high level of stress with no issues! It’s different for everyone but when that point of stress is reached, that’s our wake up call. And it may not be running around/responsibility/work type of stress. It’s usually emotional stress, personal baggage, worrying about things that are not in your control, being concerned about how people see you, comparing yourself to others. These are sure fire ways to fill that bucket right up, when these days life is such that it’s already half full! We can look at anxiety as our teacher, shaking us by the shoulders to take stock of what we’re carrying and to take care of ourselves. It may mean to slow down or speak to a professional or challenge our thought pattern.
Rather than fear what is happening, we could see this as a guide of what NOT to do, or what NOT to think. The problem is that most people only focus on the anxiety and either fear it or fight it thus keeping that flow. Once there is an acceptance of what’s happening, we have the first step to stopping that flow, working on what’s in that bucket, and clearing it out for long term recovery 🌺
There’s been such sad news lately and it always highlights the conversation that needs to be had about mental illness. While that’s a great thing, there’s a risk that people self diagnosis or fall into a ‘victim’ or ‘hopeless’ trap. Particularly if they paint their feeling with the same brush of the person they’ve read about and think it’s one of the same. As I’ve mentioned before, sadness is NOT depression and worry is NOT always an anxiety disorder. Factors surrounding someone’s will (or lack of) for life vary greatly and cannot be compared. Any comparison can be stifling.
We are a culture of victim and blame.
I was once told that depression and anxiety sufferers are usually the least self-responsible people. They’re responsible for everyone else but themselves, this explains why they suffer.
I know I was a real victim for a long time. I would hide behind ‘it’s not fair... this is not me... I’m not good enough... I can’t change...I’m not strong.” With these statements I gave myself permission to do...absolutely nothing! Not seek help, not be self aware, not try to look at things differently and not be self-responsible.
If acceptance is the first key to recovery, then empathy is on the same key chain. This is not to be confused with sympathy or victim mentality. Empathy is understanding your situation or feelings. And using this to move forward. Sympathy however comes with sense of pity and a lack of self-responsibility because it implies that the situation is beyond your control.
It’s easy for us to fall into the victim-self and blame our spouse, our job, our parents or the prime minister! (We shouldn’t blame ourselves either!) These things may need addressing, but if we continually do this then we take away our power and hand it over to the mental illness on a silver platter.
Going back to the first point; while reading of these suicides is incredibly sad, we need to pull ourselves out of the victim and hopeless state and believe that there is light, truth and hope in seeking help. Not being passive and leaving our reality to chance or letting our feelings dictate our life. And certainly not be drawn into a false idea of hopelessness about it all. 🌺
Before I found the right help, I clutched desperately to any advice. ‘Just love yourself,’ was one. ‘Everyday say to the mirror, I love you, and give the mirror a kiss.’
So I did exactly that, I kissed the cool mirror but inside what I really I wanted was to jam my fist into the glass. How was I ever going to feel anything but hate or at the least resentment at myself for not being who I wanted me to be... ‘stronger’ than this, better than this, ‘happier’ than this?
The way I saw it, I was causing me, misery. It would be like trying to switch on love feelings for someone who was causing your life hell. No easy task. Well meaning advice to love oneself can create a deeper feeling of hopelessness when those expectations to feel this emotion are not met. We see those motivation captions everywhere but what does it really mean?
“Don’t believe that love nonsense,” my therapist had told me. She was great like that. Really real. “Start with CARE...simply care for yourself,” she added. “You’re on the right track by seeking help with me aren’t you?”
It made sense. Care enough that you can stand up for yourself or say NO if you need to. Care enough to take a break, do something for yourself, or follow a passion. Care enough for yourself to live in a healthy way. Care enough to ignore the negative and abusive self thoughts that try and hold you back. Care enough to seek help. “And if you do all these things... how can the love not naturally grow?”
It doesn’t have to be massive changes or giant leaps, it’s all in the little things you do. Build on those little decisions until you feel ready to tackle bigger ones or make life changes. *
To be honest, I even found the care bit hard. I was extremely hard on myself and I cared very little for myself. It was a big roadblock for me. Until I was able to find out exactly why I was so hard on myself, why I couldn’t give myself a chance and why I blamed myself so much, I really wasn’t getting anywhere. So yes it’s not as easy as being ‘your own best friend’ for a lot of people. Good advice, but as always you need to have a closer look at all those roots beneath to understand why the tree doesn’t grow 🌺
I was deeply saddened this week to hear of a few suicides. Some people may view this as a ‘cop out’ or a selfish act. For me, it is a reminder of how extremely crippled I felt when I had an anxiety disorder. How, although thankfully just the thought of self-harm was terrifying for me, I can see why anyone would feel that this would be the only way to escape the sheer hell that one feels.
It’s difficult to fathom how debilitating depression or chronic anxiety can be. How much of a changed person you feel you have become. How it totally affects your behaviour, your words, and crushes your sense of self. And how just living day to day, going to work, placing one step in front of the other can be an enormous effort.
You feel lonely and isolated. You feel hopeless and DIFFERENT to everyone else. We think others are allowed to have these illnesses and we can empathise with them and “forgive” them.. but us… no this is not us… we are “stronger” that that.
Continuously denying your experience, no matter how horrid it is, is the very thing that keeps it there... and then makes it worse. Accepting that this is you for now is the first key to recovery. No-one needs to live like this. It is not meant to be a way of being nor is it just part of a person’s make. You should no longer say “this is just the way I am” or “I’ve learned to live with it.”
It is dis-ease of mind and emotions. And it doesn’t matter what brought you to this time (from life stresses to life challenges), anxiety can be a sign that something is amiss in your life. That Enough is Enough. That your thought pattern is unhealthy or destructive. It maybe highlighting that you need to put yourself first for once.
Perhaps you are trying too hard to do everything perfectly or trying too hard to be all things to all people. Do you see yourself as the “go to” person, the one that fixes everything, or do you place upon yourself unreasonable responsibility or guilt?
These are usually the ones that suffer the most. The ones that have been too strong for too long.
Let this be your year for change.
In my experience a good reliable therapist is paramount for support in recovery. Find one. And take back the power