Is God to Blame?

The sun was slowly climbing out of bed to give light to the world. The colors of the Sun’s blanket as she slowly lumbered out bed painted the sky in brilliant hues of yellows, pinks, and reds. At the same time, a man climbed out of bed at the sound of his alarm and got ready to start his day. Once dressed, he proceeded to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. In the medicine cabinet, there was an organizer with a little compartment for each day. In the allotted compartments was medication, vitamins, and supplements all organized for each day for the week. Every day the man had to take pills of medication, vitamins, and supplements for a chronic health problem. To many, the idea of swallowing pills as if it is second nature is something to be envied because they themselves struggle with this ability. The irony is to the man they are lucky to not have needed to learn such a skill. Unlike him, God had planned for them to live a relatively healthy life.

This story is not uncommon. In fact, I myself struggle with my own health. In October, my medication for my illness had stopped working. From what I understand, this is a common problem. It is simply that the body has grown use to the medication, and thus, it has become ineffective. Since then, I was thrown back into a struggle that I hoped I had left behind for good. To this day, doctors and other professionals are still trying to find another medication that will help alleviate the worst of my symptoms. It’s a process of trial and error as not every medication will work the same for each person.

In the midst of the time since then, I was once again plagued with the internal struggle of wondering why God would give and plan my life to have this illness. This was a recurring thought as I struggled through each day at college. It was compounded by the carefree attitudes of my fellow devout catholic peers. Deep in my heart, I wished to be just like them and not know the heavy burden that laid upon my shoulders. Even today, such a desire exists, I am definitely not yet a saint. I graduated this spring with a bachelors in Theology. Thus, my peers and I went our separate ways, and some, like me, started a new chapter in life. Today, I see my peers going on mission trips, summer camps, and other ministry and theological orientated tasks, but instead of feeling great joy and pride in them, I find that I am frustrated because I could be doing those exact same things. I could be but instead I have to attend to my health. Such adventures are on hold until I am healthy again. This sadness and envy at my season in life is not holy, and I say these things to be truthful with my readers and I feel there is an advantage to my message by sharing it.

The thing I want you take away from this, and it took me longer than it should have to discern it, is we tend to think illnesses, and other misfortunes to be what God planned for us and this is an error. This was something I struggled with because of my own suffering, like I showed in the previous paragraphs. Usually, such a thing as suffering would not bother me, but the difference here is the sheer amount of suffering that caused me to really question how God could have planned this struggle for my life. I would tell myself that this will make me a better person, but at the end of the day it was not much of comfort. The truth is God did not originally plan for this to happen to me. God did not plan for me to suffer from poor health. What created this was the first sin by Adam and Eve. It took me too long to come to this conclusion, and I probably should be embarrassed. 

What the first sin by Adam and Eve destroyed was the harmony that God had created. The harmony within the body controlled by the soul’s spiritual faculties was broken. Spiritual faculties did not control it anymore. Thus emotions, mind, and fleshly urges were in disarray and were not controlled by Spiritual faculties anymore. It is from the fall of Adam and Eve that misfortunes and suffering are in life. It is not correct to think that God is to blame for one being sick. Original sin is to blame and God did not create original sin. Original sin and the consequences that arose were created by man, namely Adam and Eve. If you read Gensis, you can see that disorder is let loose into the world by Adam and Eve’s disobedience. I do not feel I am doing it justice, but the harmony and peace that God had created was destroyed by the first sin. This subsequently is why we now sin, and why we need abundant grace from God to attain salvation. What original sin created was a wound “in the natural powers proper to,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 405, human nature. God did not create disease, illness, misfortune, birth defects, cancer, or anything else. The world is fallen and broken because of sin. We suffer because of the effects of original sin. In the case that I am not doing this justice, I recommend you read the Catechism. It can be found online for free. 

The sense that this had not come from God has put peace in my heart. Suffering is beneficial, and, just like with Job, God does allow us to suffer, however this suffering is created by the fall of man. This is the truth of the matter. It was not correct for me to struggle with God over this issue as He did not create suffering. If it was not this suffering than it would be something else. 

This is what I want you to take away from this post,  God is not to blame for our suffering, but He is a place we can run to for security. It’s tragic that we assign, almost on instinct, blame to God when misfortunes come our way. It is damaging to our relationship to God and eats away at our trust in Him. You can blame God for allowing you a certain misfortune, however he did not originally intend for this to happen to you. What made this happen to you was original sin and not God. I hope that what I have written here you take to heart and that it might also bring you peace.

Fight Song

I’m back at Saint Leo University this semester. I actually graduate this semester. And even though it’s only the second week of school, I feel like this is going to be a great semester. I have so much motivation about my school work and I’m also not procrastinating on assignments. I feel like I have a great handle on my workload this semester. If you are familiar with major depression then you would understand that the fact I have all this motivation to do things is a really great sign about my health.

So I’m pretty sure all of you have heard the song Fight Song by Rachel Platten? If not, here is a link.

Well, I wanted to talk about how empowering this song is for me. This song probably means way more to me than the average person. It makes me feel so empowered. And I relate to it on probably a different level than the average person. The lyrics are great and can be used for any struggle. It reminds me of my own personal struggle with depression. It reminds me to always keep fighting. To keep fighting with determination, as if there was no temptation to say “I can’t.” It is a song that reminds me how strong I am and how I can do anything. Heck, I overcome depression at age 21. If I can overcome severe depression then I don’t think there is anything that can stop me! The world better watch out!

However, on a more reflective note, I am realizing that I don’t think I will EVER forget what this recent episode of major depression was like. I think my grapple with the darkness known as depression will forever be ingrained in my mind. To be honest, I am not sure how someone can forget about such an experience and just move on like nothing happened. I know I can’t. I can’t just sit and do nothing now that I am able to speak out. It’s just not possible for me. My mission is to scream out in defiance to stigma, ignorance, and religious opposition to mental illness. You could say this is “my fight song.” Though, my fight song is also one of perseverance and not giving up. To keep combating the darkness with what little light you may have. You may just have a little cigarette lighter, but let that light shine and don’t let it go out. No matter how weary you get, and there are people out there willing to help you keep your flame lit.

Can you hear me? I got so much fight in me and I won’t sit ideally by in silence. If someone thinks they have depression I will be the first to talk to them and advise them to go to counselling. And I won’t stay silent when things could be said to change people’s misguided perception of mental illness.  In general, the topic of mental illness makes people uncomfortable, but I don’t care. I will speak out about it. And let’s say if a third episode of depression comes upon me (this is very likely to happen one day), I will fight with all my heart against it.

It may be a little arrogant of me to think, but I feel like my battle with depression shows how strong I really am. It shows I’m a true fighter because I have been through a lot more than people my age have.

I encourage anyone reading this, whether you have experience or not, to speak out about mental illness! And also take a really long hard look at how you look at people who are a little different than you. They need your support and if you think you have some sort of mental illness don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to sign up for counseling. Counseling is more normal than you think.

Love,

Ashes

Rumors

tumblr_n0xduuJg5d1tsjrfbo1_r1_1280At my university there is apparently rumors going around about me and this is actually the first I have ever heard of rumors ever being spread about me. I can now say, it is rather frustrating than when false things are being said about you. The things being said runs along the lines that I am an attention seeker. This is a big blow for me because that word is part of the stigma and discrimination my illness usually gets.

With the chance there may be some who have not read my previous posts, I was diagnosed with major depression back in February of 2014. It was determined it was moderate grade. It wasn’t mild, nor was it considered severe. It was in the middle. They didn’t find the right medication for me till august of 2014. The spring semester of college was hard as I was facing my illness without the right medication. Depression is a horrible illness and hurts more than people can imagine. I would rather have physical pain then the emotional pain depression puts you through every day. It was hard. I would reach out to my friends trying to have someone listen to me and be able to express myself and not have to hide.

Now if you are some of my fellow students reading my blog, than you might have heard a rumor going around that I am an “attention seeker and only pretend to be nice” or something along those lines.
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This past Friday I found out a girl I use to be rather close with and got into a conflict with this semester has been telling people, at least, since September I am an attention seeker. She has been saying, “She is an attention seeker, pretends to be nice, and only does sweet things to get attention. She also pushes her religion on people.” The people who are friends with me and have heard her have wanted to strangle her, because all the things she is saying is really untrue. She is telling lies. She is also ruining my reputation and making people I don’t even know think of me in a horrible way. She, to me, has back stabbed in the worst way possible. She was the first one I trusted at Saint Leo University with my secret and she betrayed my trust. She used the worst thing she could ever call me. She is no better than the other people who are ignorant of mental illness. If anything the fact she claims I am an attention seeker after I trusted her and she saw some of the things I went through shows she isn’t a very compassionate person. And I honestly have no idea where this person got these lies. I don’t know how she could think I am a faker since I go to the psychiatrist, counseling, and I am on medication. I don’t know how she thinks I only pretend to be nice. Sure, I have lost my patience with her and her unreliability and how she ignored me when I needed her, but I gave her plenty of chances. Asking me to be a doormat is outrageous. She also said I am manipulative, but I have no idea what she is talking about. All I ever did was express myself and never intended to manipulate her because of how I feel. However, I am sure though she is not a terrible enough person to say something and not think it is true. Therefore, in her mind she must think of me in this way, which hurts more because she is simply not telling lies. She regards me as a person I am not and we were rather close to each other. However, this is also good news too because there is still a large amount of good in her.

I find though in my mind, she may not be totally at fault. She may be influenced by her mother, and her mother has told her theses things are true about me even though I have only talked to her mother twice. I really hope this is the case, because the girl I knew back in the spring was not like this. She was not one to spread rumors and lie about someone. I’m trying to find a place in my heart not be angry and try to understand why she would do this. As someone who wants to please God, I am trying my hardest to swallow down my hurt and forgive her. It is definitely really hard, but no one said forgiving would be easy. What’s easy is taking revenge. What’s easy is confronting her about it and arguing with her. The hard road is to just let it go.

The course of action I have planned to take is to let her keep doing what she is doing. The only thing she is really accomplishing is making herself look like a fool when people actually get to know me and realize I am none of the things she says I am. She is also showing people what kind of person she seems to have become this semester. She has most defiantly changed. This very much worries me. The seemly pleasant girl I knew who seemed to have a big heart has changed. She has even ruined my chances of getting into Greek life at school because she tells her sisters these untrue thing about me. She seems to be hanging out the wrong people and be changing because of it.

The thing is, in general, the person spreading false rumors is really only causing harm to themselves. The people that matter will ignore the rumors and will get to know you. The friends that matter will stick around and want to defend you when someone tells lies about you. In a way it makes thing easier for me, though I will admit it does hurt that numerous people have this false perception about me now. However, it is what it is.

The only thing I can do since she seems to dislike me so much is to continue to mention her in my prayers. God tells us to pray for those who persecute us. And I will continue to do so even more. I really hope she comes to realize how terrible she is being and sees what she’s doing is wrong. I hope she sees that she is only making me want to hide more and making me regret ever opening up about what I was facing in the spring semester. This, I suppose, from my research is a typical reaction when you are accused of by someone you use to be close with to be an attention seeker, a fake, and manipulative. They say hurt people hurt people, so perhaps there is something hurting her so she is trying to hurt me.

In any case I hope, you, my followers will also keep her in your prayers for me and also pray for me that I may be able to fully forgive her even though I don’t understand why she dislikes me so much. My biggest regret right now is that I ever trusted her.

Picture Citations:
Digital image. We the Fighters. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. <http://depressedproblems.tumblr.com/image/50071588476&gt;.

N.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. <http://notcrazyorg.tumblr.com/image/66731565864&gt;.

Friends

I know I write a lot about my mental illness, Major Depression, but I am realizing so many new perspectives and life lessons came from my illness. I learned many lessons and I learned what it means to really suffer and struggle. I learned what agony and torture were like. I went through something which has irreconcilably changed me. The person I was before I can never be again. However, the person I am now is different version of the person I once was and from there I can grow and model myself into who i want to be now.

Before I came down with Depression, I was always kind of particular about my friends and to be honest I wasn’t use to relying on my friends for support. In high school, I was the girl that studied all the time and had numerous hobbies. Every once in a blue moon I  would hang out with my friends outside of school, but it was rare. I was very much kind of a loner and wasn’t very interested in changing myself to make a lot of friends. The few close friends I did have I valued them intensely. I am very much an introvert and my friendships were a reflection of that. In course of  recovering from my illness I began to really understand what friendship and love truly was. Most of all, I learned the hard way about what true friendship was.

A friend does not blame you for your condition, and they make sure they are there for you. A true friend is never too busy for you an they can see when you are trying to pull away because you are scared. A real friend will do everything they can to help you and will be honest with you.

There is some memes out there which have examples of the struggle and strain depression puts on your cheap friendships. Here are a few I found:

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I found these at http://clinicallydepressedpug.tumblr.com/. A site like this really helps because I feel like there are people out there who really understood what I went through and had the same problems.

The thing with friends is if they really love you they will choose to stay with you through tough times. Love is a decision and you choose whether to abandon someone or stay with them or to avoid them. from my grapple with depression, i have come to not accept the excuse of them being overwhelmed because the truth is i was overwhelmed and I was the one suffering. Love is not word used for convenience. Love is steadfast and not self seeking, and leaving someone who is really struggling and is very sick is self-seeking.

During my episode of major Depression, I was very alone and only had one person who i could lean on and was very patient with me. This girl’s name was Courtney Sullivan. We were friends back in high school and one of the people I opened up to early on about developing some really bad issues. She has never left me, and she is still there for now when I get my bad days. My best friend tried to be there, but here boyfriend did not like her talking to me. It wasn’t until six or seven months later she was able to be there for me because she had broken up with her boyfriend. During this episode, I had gone off to university and was alone more than ever. However, being a theology and Jesus lover I ended up in a good crowd. In the christian activities I attended and through fellow theology majors I met some great people. Three of the people I met were great people and began noticing I wasn’t exactly well as they hung around me more. I fussed up to one and when i was officially diagnosed I fessed up to the other two. These three put up with me for about six months and they put up with me without my charade of being fine up. In the end, I sort of knew we wouldn’t last as close friends. They were great people and made me feel like i had a family at school and I could talk to them and be truthful and not have to hide. However, their love was not what it should be because they did not know me before, nor did they try to do research or seem to hear me out when I would try to explain my illness to them. I appreciate everything they did, but the major breaking point that caused distance was when i was engulfed in the symptoms of my illness and I ended up getting blamed for the symptoms by one of them. It was pinned on me like a symptoms of my mood disorder were character flaws, and it’s still something that haunts me to this day. I have dreams of this friend and how she must hate me, and I feel helpless because she seems to have no grasp at all of what my illness does to me. On a more positive note, two of friends from high school have been there for me. When they knew I was struggling they immediately demanded to help me and would not take no for an answer. Okay, I’ll stop there on my friend stories, but the ones mentioned here, and some not mentioned, are ones who I am very thankful for. There are a few more I can talk about, but you get the idea.

When I would reach out for help I learned quickly who was really my friend and I soon was able to kind of pick up on who were reliable. My illness taught me what a true friend is and how I can be good friend myself.

The Dark Stains on the Artist’s Hands

In case you are reading this and haven’t checked out my other posts, in February of 2014 I was officially diagnosed with Major depression. From what I understand, I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. Basically, my brain was not working the way it should be. I didn’t enjoy things I use to enjoy, I would get upset about little things, I had lies about myself going through my head, and a lot of other things happening because of this mental illness.

When it was really bad I would get into a state of wanting or getting an urge to hurt myself. This temptation was caused by the anger at myself and the worthlessness I felt. I would feel like I should punish myself for my mistakes and things I had done wrong. An example of this was one time I got an urge when I found out i failed a quiz and I became angry with myself. Another reason this was a temptation is because for me it would be a way to express how I felt when there were no words. I could put what I was feeling on the inside on the outside. It was a way to express how I felt.

if you have never experienced depression or self-harm urges, in those moments it’s hard to see anything good about yourself and you feel like you deserve to have scars and you deserve the wound you inflict on yourself.Your brain has turned on you and become self-destructive. One of my coping methods to was to write the horrible things I thought on myself instead of hurting myself. Another was to talk to my friends and therapist how I felt. These helped, but sometimes there were no words to really say how I felt and sometimes words were lacking and that was a problem. My therapist decided I should paint my feelings and what depression was like. She told me not to care how dark it was. I felt like they were an accurate representation of what depression was like and wanted to share with you a visual from my perspective about depression.

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Dear Agony

Dear depression, dear agony,

I will admit I am afraid. I am afraid you will come back. you will sink your claws into me and drag me back into the hole of darkness. I am more afraid than I will admit. Relapsing one day is a high statistic for me, and I won’t fool myself to think I could be one of the few who only get one episode. I’m  afraid to go back to that place. I was so lost. So so lost. It was agony everyday. There aren’t words to describe it. Darkness was all around, and lies were everywhere. everything was mingled with self-loathing and everything hurt. My heart ached so bad. the emotional pain each day was agony.

Darkness, we’ll be old friends. Dancing around each other till you find the power to trap me again. We’ll dance like this with the same routine till I draw my last breath. I have a feeling no matter what some speck of you will always be there, even with medication. I know you are still slightly there now. But you are weak and don’t over power me anymore. I won this fight and I don’t look forward to the next. I may be scared, but you won’t stop me from living my life. When you come back, we’ll be ready.

Dear Agony, I am afraid, but courage is having fear and steadfastly facing it. If you come back, I will be terrified, but I will fight back.