Confusion.

In my eyes, meditation is just a time to clear the mind, reflect, and manifest positive things. I do not feel comfortable in summoning spirits. I simply want another way to grow as a person while still maintaining my Christian faith. I have some form of stemming where I consistently rub my hands. It is starting to wear on my skin and it was suggested I look into a worry stone. During that time, I saw and read about healing Crystals. They say that you program them with affirmations to hold during meditation, or to place your intentions into. Again, I feel strongly about my religious beliefs at this time, but what can some positive thinking or speaking do? I have just been struggling with this. I really am interested in trying something holistic. I was inspired when my psych doc suggested lavender capsules to help ease my anxiety. It is like day and night. Amazing. I have never been into vitamins and what not. WOW. I guess I am hoping to find more ways to cope with my anxieties. I am doing therapy, taking medications, and writing. I am worried that it goes against the Bible.

This has always been a determent of mine from the Bible. I felt as though I was going to have to alter my whole life to conform. It hasn’t been like that at all. I honestly haven’t changed anything much physically. Emotionally on the other hand…I just don’t want to sacrifice an opportunity to learn about an alternative belief system. That is how I came to the Bible….I had to open my mind to learning.

I would love thoughts on this. Can both “spiritual beliefs” co-exist?

I am an open book. I don’t feel as though we can’t debate the existence of high powers. In my eyes, in a discussion and debate, I am able to provide education on my beliefs. It is a time to discuss, learn, and grow. If you do not feel as though you can do this, kindly bow out of the discussion, as will I. So much love and positive thoughts and intentions to every single one of you.

Clarity.

This is a two part post: The next part is scheduled to be posted tomorrow.

I want to start off by saying that I voluntarily see my psych doc weekly because I need a lot of accountability regarding my medication. It is a personal choice and in no way does it reflect my dedication to my mental health. I also have a therapist that I see biweekly. I am in no way manic and this is not a manic episode and it is not religious mania. I have been on a spiritual exploration for a few years now.

I always said that I was an atheist, and then I realized what an atheist is and I am not that. Then I said I was agnostic. I told people that I am too selfish to sit and learn about a particular faith to claim one. People really respected that and I meant it, but I wasn’t agnostic. I believed in a God, I just didn’t know which one. I prayed to a God. My God. It didn’t matter. I knew that I had no true control in my life. I wasn’t an accident. The world is bigger than me.

Then I started finding myself longing to be like a lot of people who emulate Jesus. I wanted something to be passionate about and to continue learning about. I wanted a higher power that I could name and a way to get to know Him. I turned to the Bible. Turns out it is literally thousands of pages. Where would I start? Would I understand it? Will it capture my attention or overwhelm me and I quit?

I tried a few bible studies and I completed maybe 3 of them. I tried and quit several. I really wanted a starting point, a place to get a foundation for the rest of my learning. I joined a small group so I could dive into the Bible and its meaning with an intimate group. It was amazing, and then I felt called out about being the only single person in the room. I didn’t go back. Then I started googling “what the Bible had to say about….” and reading from there.

I was having a really tough time with my sister. We were going back and forth about everything it seemed. Who is cleaning more, who is chipping in more, you name it. It was causing a huge rift. we smoothed it over but I still feel this tension in the air. Like she is waiting for the shoe to drop. It is familiar because that is how I felt when I had to move back in with them. It is strange to be on the other side and needing to forgive. This is the first time it occurred to me to turn to the Bible first. So I googled, “the Bible and forgiveness” and “biblical stories about forgiveness”. It returned wonderful scripture. I then wrote some of it down. Once I reviewed what I had found, I picked out some of my favorites. I noticed a lot of them were from the book of Matthew. I found myself emerged in this story that finally told me the ins and outs of how Jesus came to be. It has all kinda tumbled from there. I think I pick up my bible at least every other day now. I still am not completely independent. I still reach for the internet for a starting point, but I still read from there. I just feel better. I feel like I am in love with learning and also seeking comfort and guidance. It really calms me. I started to wonder if maybe that calm can be obtained through meditation and manifestation. I believe in manifestation. Maybe it is the positivity that it exudes or the feeling of influence it provides. Either way it feels like I accomplished something.

So I started looking into meditation and homeopathic ways of treatments or guidance.

(continued in next post)

My No-Medication Journey to Emotional Health and Well-Being

Going on about 40 years ago, I was diagnosed as bipolar.  Today, I don’t know whether that diagnosis was correct or not because I’ve chosen to live my life the way I’m going to live it regardless.

So in this post, I’m going to talk a little about my choices for medicating and not medicating.  I need to state up front that everybody’s situation with medication may be different.  Some people can’t live off of medication; it’s a life or death matter, the difference between being able to have a life or not, or have a life that’s undamaged or one that’s damaged.  So this post is not a comment on other people’s choices in any way, shape, or form nor is it a suggestion as to how other people should live or the choices they should make in any way, shape, or form.  I just want to say that clearly.  This is my journey, though there may be something in it that speaks to you.

I was diagnosed as bipolar, which is funny because years later I received – when I was in therapy, again – a book entitled Mood Swings.  The therapist told me to go home and read it.  I asked her, “Do you think this is what’s going on with me?”  She said, “No, I think it’s what’s going on with your mother.”  I’m not going to say anything more about that except to say that I have doubted my diagnosis of bipolar pretty much the entire time since I received it.  What I did believe myself to be was extremely depressed.  Yes, I get very, very active sometimes – it’s actually the way I live almost ALL of my life.  Energy is what I am; people comment on it all the time.  I used to have periods where I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning; I would be busy, I couldn’t sleep but I’ve never felt I was in a manic state.  I just thought I was avoiding laying down.  I didn’t sleep well.  In addition, my dreams and I are very attached; anything that’s bothering me comes out in my dreams and a LOT was bothering me, for YEARS.  (Over time, I have come to see my sleep avoidance as a bad habit and have dealt with it as such – the same way I dealt with the bad habit of smoking and too much wine; the result is that now it’s not a part of my life (well, I still like my wine!).  Staying up super late happens rarely now and when it does I’m quite annoyed by it and I knock it off quickly.)

I was never medicated as a result of the bipolar diagnosis but a few years later I found myself hospitalized for depression.  Sometime prior to that, I had been given two medications (I won’t say what they were), one for depression and one for anxiety. Those two medications drove me insane.  That’s the only way I can put it.  I went from being depressed to being suicidal.  I just couldn’t … I just couldn’t.  That’s all I can say.  I was also having other disturbing side effects from these medications.  I was told the side effects would pass as my body got used to them.  In addition I was going through something horrible.  I was very angry at medications and I developed the attitude, “Why should I be medicated because of what other people have done to me?!”  One day I decided, “You know what?  Instead of taking just one of these a day, I’ll just take them all today.”  I made the (life-saving) mistake of saying that to my therapist at the time and that’s when I learned an important truth about being committed:  commit yourself, leave when you think you’re well; get committed by a professional, leave when they think you’re well.  My situation was the latter.

That was the end of medication for me.

A few years later, perhaps five or so years after I was married I ended up hospitalized again.  This time I drove myself to the hospital because I was just having the worst day and I felt I couldn’t function and I went to an emergency room and tearfully told them, “I’m not safe.  I’m not okay.”  I took myself away from my husband and my children and I was in there for probably about a week.

When I came out of the hospital that time, I said, “Enough is enough.”  Now I’m not suggesting that I no longer dealt with depression anymore because I did.  I continued to have periods some might have called manic.  I don’t know.  I just wanted to stay up to avoid laying down and dealing with my dreams and thoughts and I can deal with it better when I’m up.  But I decided, “I just can’t do this anymore.”  I really paid attention to the materials I was given on my way out of the hospital, which discussed how to manage my life.

Around that time I had been seeing a commercial for a program called Attacking Anxiety and Depression.  Honestly, that program was somewhat expensive at the time; we didn’t have a lot of money early in our marriage.  I invested in it anyway and I actually did that program, the whole thing.  It was very involved.  It involved practically every moment of my every day for weeks and weeks.  I did the entire thing.  I wanted to get well.   I was desperate.  I don’t want to say it cured me because “cured” is such a subjective word; who the hell knows whether they’re cured.  The circumstances at the heart of my illness were still the same and therefore I still had to cope with the same things.  So I don’t know whether I was cured.  Like an alcoholic, I’m still a depressive – I’ll say in remission.  But what that program, and my dogged (almost crazed) devotion to it, did do was teach me to manage my life.  To this day, I fiercely – and I do mean fiercely – manage my life.

I talk to myself in certain ways.  I hear when I’m bad to myself and then I remember that I’m also pretty damn great.  After all, look at me surviving.

I fiercely defend my privacy, my time as my own and not being owed to anyone.  This has alienated many people in my extended family because I’m from a family (two, actually) that feels like we should get together often but my family is also very critical of each other and being with them is not healthy.  Well, I have a family – I have a husband and sons and a granddaughter.  This is where I put my time.  I also fiercely defend my need to spend my time in places and situations that don’t stress me.  My extended family stresses the hell out of me and brings back all of the bad memories and they like to talk about these things and they’re a little bit bullying.  And so I very, very rarely spend time with them because I always end up having to defend myself around them.  Who the hell wants to be in that?  And so I don’t.  I am comfortable with my family and I devote my life and my time to them.  My home is peaceful.  Many people have commented on it upon entering and again upon leaving.  It’s a great compliment that fuels my dedication to sticking with it.

I have chosen work and hobbies that nurture me and that allow me to nurture others, activities that bring out and display the best in me.

I have no interest in anyone else’s “shoulds” about life.  I have examined my life thoroughly.  I know what it needs and that’s what I give it.  If things fall by the wayside, they fall by the wayside for a reason.  If I say no to things I say no for a reason.

Another big change that occurred – perhaps the biggest – is I learned to defend myself as if I were defending my best friend.  You know how we all jump up and just don’t allow anyone to say anything horrible about our best friend?  Well, I’ve learned that I have to treat myself like that.  I will not allow myself to be made a doormat.  I will not allow myself to be bullied.  Even if it’s coming from me. This has made me assertive – not aggressive.  It’s made me stand up for myself.  If someone tries to embarrass me, even in public, I will call it out tactfully, “I understood what you said.  I don’t know why you would say that in front of of all these people but let’s talk about it,” which invariably makes the person stop and leave me alone.  (I did this just recently with a family member.)  I’m not perfect and I get those times when I’m bad to myself because, hey, I will probably always have low self-esteem; it’s part of my fiber, it was built into me.  So sometimes, when I can’t talk myself out of it, I have had to learn to

Listen to my husband while he talks me out of it.  (And he defends me like a mama bear!) I’ve had to learn to listen to those people whom I know love me and admit that sometimes maybe they are right and I’m not horrible.  Then I can get myself back on track.

I stick to my regimens.  My regimens are my regimens.  I get up the way I get up everyday and do the things that are important to me everyday.  I end my day with time to myself everyday.  Whether I use it to think or to read or to write or to make something or to watch a show or to play a game, whatever the case may be, I end my day privately.  My husband respects that and appreciates it.  When he realizes that he is staying long and I’m staying up because he’s staying with me, he kindly acknowledges and says, “I’ll see you when you come up.”  I really appreciate his understanding that there are certain things I have to do to be okay; time with myself is one of them.

During these years of transition, I was having a horrible, horrible, horrible time with my mom.  If anything has been close to killing me, it has been my relationship with my mother.  I decided I was tired of being sick.  I had done all this work and yet still I was sick.  And so I went on over to an online platform called LiveJournal and I said, “I’m going to write this journal every, single day for 365 days and I’m going to find my way out of this.”  And I did.  Over 365 days I missed writing on only a handful of days.  At the end of 365 days I was very proud of myself because when I looked into my word cloud, I saw that I had developed gratitude and I was beginning to see great things about myself and my life.  (A sad side note:  my relationship with my mother did not survive this.  We became emotionally estranged, although we did see each other from time to time and were civil.)

I really started to be healthy after that and will even go so far as to say happy.  This is my current state and has been so for several years.  Again, I still deal with things; I still get sad; negative emotions still come in, I still have to deal with them.  But a real, substantive change happened after that.  I said, “Wow, my life is great!”  My life is great.

During all these years, I also developed a very strong, close relationship with God.  I know there are people who will ridicule that.  There’s nothing I can say to you.  If God is present in your life, you will know.  I worked hard but I did not do this alone.  It required a strength that I just don’t have.  I don’t care what people call it. It’s not blind faith because I have seen, for certain, His hand in my life.

I’m sorry I can’t put all these things together on a better timeline.  I just can’t because all of these things were happening over years at different times by themselves and they all became part of one closely-meshed fabric of health and well-being.  But all of these things became my method for living that protects me.

I’m not antisocial.  I’m very extroverted; however, that has shifted also.  I’m extroverted when I’m around people but I really prefer not to be around people.  I’m an introvert who is just really good with people when I get out there.  (Sometimes.  Other times I feel like I totally make an ass and a fool of myself but I know that a lot of people feel like that at times.)  When I want to be with people, I’m with people; when I don’t, I’m not.  It’s important to note that my work is a mashup of teaching and entertainment so I am always doing both and people are my livelihood.  So when I say “I don’t feel like it,” I’m talking about my non-work time.

It all comes down to making choices that benefit my health, my well-being.  I just turned 60.  At some point in your life, you have to say, “This is my life.  I have to live it my way with my priorities.”  At that point, you have to start really taking a good and honest look at the things around you that work contrary to you living your life and living it in a healthy way.

Are you trying to live someone else’s life?  Are you living according to someone else’s priorities?  Are you living in a way that benefits your own well-being or someone else’s?

This is not selfishness, especially if you are a significant other or a parent.  Because if you can’t be healthy, how can your relationships be healthy?  Sometimes we say, “Yeah, but he/she just loves me and has my best interests at heart.”  Nobody knows what’s best for you but you – and I would hazard to say God.  Come to know yourself.  Come to know God.  (I’m not going to go any deeper into that because I don’t want to get into religion.  I can’t stand religion.)  I’ll just say learn to pray.  Get out of yourself, take an honest chance and pray.  Pray for guidance.  If you don’t believe, fine.  Prove that you’re right.  Just give a few, deep, heartfelt prayers, deep from your soul.  Pray for guidance to know yourself.  I could have done nothing without this.  It’s where I got the strength to continue because it was hard.  I didn’t mean to go off on that but it’s impossible for me to separate out.

So again, a list of where my journey to emotional and mental health has brought me:

  • Fierce protection and defense of myself as I would my best friend, husband and children
  • Fierce protection and defense of my time, priorities, and need for quiet solitude
  • Listening to people who truly love me when they stand up for me, not fighting against them
  • Remembering to ask God for help and especially to thank God for all the riches I do have, to be grateful

These are the little pills I take to protect my health and well-being.  I hope there’s something in there that will help you.

Peace

Looking for gold veins in black granite

How is it best to be, think, or feel,  when we are threatened by darkness, whether from external factors or whether in our own minds?  I think this is a question which concerns a lot of people now.  We look around and things are difficult, there is suffering everywhere, terrible ecological anxieties, political upheavals.    It’s easy to feel disconnected,  overwhelmed and hopeless.   Many of the support mechanisms that would have been available to more connected societies in the past – for example in the form of extended families – are no longer available to us.

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As we live in increasingly dysfunctional and disconnected societies.  We look for something to pin our hopes on, try to obliterate the stress we feel with our busy-ness.  We turn perhaps to self-help manuals, books about meditation or veganism, make New Year resolutions, go to the gym,  write more, work harder, party harder,  rush around keeping busy trying to blank things out.

Hands up if you’ve been there.

I don’t mean to imply there’s anything wrong with yoga etc but I’m not sure if these things on their own can combat the kinds of stresses we are struggling with in modern societies.

The term ‘stress’ itself originally comes from physics and refers to the deformation of a body that has been subjected to external forces.  We talk about stress testing metals for car bodies.  We do not talk about stress testing ourselves, torn as we are between our own excessive expectations and feelings of powerlessness.    But just as some metals bear up under stress differently, so do people.  We are not all the same.

We need to hang on to our dreams and we need to hang on to hope.

Elie Wiesel who won the Nobel Peace prize 1986 said in his acceptance speech:

“Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future. Does this mean that our future can be built on a rejection of the past? Surely such a choice is not necessary. The two are not incompatible. The opposite of the past is not the future but the absence of future; the opposite of the future is not the past but the absence of past. The loss of one is equivalent to the sacrifice of the other.”

(https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1986/wiesel-lecture.html)

Wiesel was of course talking about a very specific past, the holocaust.

But how much suffering stems from past mistakes, problems, agonies, losses.  We should not forget them, not even try.  But sometimes forgetting seems like the only possible solution.  How to cope with stress without resorting to harmful thought patterns and behaviours like blotting out activities?  This I believe is one of the great challenges of our times.   How to build a future that is not built on a rejection of the past?    And though, yes, Wiesel was speaking at a societal level, what are societies but gatherings of individual people?

His speech continues with a personal memory:

“A recollection. The time: After the war. The place: Paris. A young man struggles to readjust to life. His mother, his father, his small sister are gone. He is alone. On the verge of despair. And yet he does not give up. On the contrary, he strives to find a place among the living. He acquires a new language. He makes a few friends who, like himself, believe that the memory of evil will serve as a shield against evil; that the memory of death will serve as a shield against death.”

In the reading I have done around this subject, two  factors have emerged as important in maintaining hope in the future.  Those two factors are keeping our eyes fixed on our own goals, and offering support to others.   Self and others, the banner of a connected humanity.

Hope as Daisaku Ikeda says, is a decision.

“Hans Selye. Who pioneered the field of stress research offered the following advice based on his own experience of battling cancer:  first, establish and maintain your own goals in life.  Second, live so that we are necessary to others – such a way of life is ultimately beneficial to yourself.”

(Hope is a Decision, EG Press, 2017)

What Selye describes is what we call empathy.  I think I am right in saying that of the major world religions, all place emphasis on empathy.  Whether you subscribe to a faith or not, this is the gold vein in all that black granite of our suffering.

This doesn’t always feel logical or even possible.  When we are suffering we want to curl up and lick our own wounds not be worrying about someone else’s.   Nevertheless.

“The Buddhist sutras contain this well known parable:  One day, Shakyamuni Buddha was approached by a woman wracked by grief at the loss of her child.  She begged him to bring her baby back to life. Shakyamuni comforted her and offered to prepare medicine that would revive her child.  To make this, he would need a mustard seed he said, which he instructed her to find in a nearby village.  This mustard seed however would have to come from a home that had never experienced the death of a family member.

The woman searched from house to house but nowhere could she find a home that had never known death.  As she continued her quest, the woman accepted that her child had died and began to realise her suffering was something shared by all people.  She returned to Shakyamuni determined not to be overwhelmed by grief.”

( Daisaku Ikeda, Hope is a Decision, 2017)

We do not carry the burden of our grief alone.   This is a good time to remember that.

Sources

Hope is a Decision: Selected Essays of Daisaku Ikeda Eternal Ganges Press, 2017

Elie Wiesel Nobel Lecture December 11, 1986

What Anger Is To Me

Please don’t tell me that a smile and your sorrow just don’t go together.

I would not look upon my anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight. I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, and with non-violence.

When I get angry, I have to produce awareness: “I am angry. Anger is in me. I am anger”. That is the first thing to do.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Angel love and rainbows.

Love, Francesca.

The Voyage and Worthiness

I am worthy

even when I don’t feel like it.

There’s so much of my past self that I don’t

resonate with at all anymore, but I love her just the same.

She was growing.

She was doing her best.

She fought hard to get me here.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Angel love and rainbows.

Love, Francesca.

The Egg Theory

By: Andy Weir

You were on your way home when you died.

 

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

 

And that’s when you met me.

 

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

 

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

 

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

 

“Yup,” I said.

 

“I… I died?”

 

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

 

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

 

“More or less,” I said.

 

“Are you god?” You asked.

 

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

 

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

 

“What about them?”

 

“Will they be all right?”

 

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

 

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

 

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

 

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

 

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

 

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

 

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

 

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

 

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

 

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

 

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

 

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

 

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

 

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

 

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

 

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

 

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

 

“Where you come from?” You said.

 

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

 

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

 

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

 

“So what’s the point of it all?”

 

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

 

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

 

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

 

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

 

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

 

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

 

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

 

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

 

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

 

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

 

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

 

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

 

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

 

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

 

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

 

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

 

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

 

“I’m Jesus?”

 

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

 

You fell silent.

 

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

 

You thought for a long time.

 

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

 

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

 

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

 

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

 

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

 

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

 

And I sent you on your way.

Religion and Mental Health

**I’m going to preface this post with an disclaimer. If you are a religious person I am not attacking you, your beliefs or your religion. I am just sharing my experiences. That is all. Also please do not attack me in the comments or attempt to convince me that I am wrong.**

Growing up in church I never thought in all my life that I would have lose my faith. My mom took my brother and I to Sunday school every week, enrolled us in vacation Bible school every summer and read us Bible stories at home.

I took being a Christian pretty seriously. I was encouraged to not be lukewarm about my faith but rather to be passionate about it.

In high school I remember reading a devotional about the importance of putting God and others before yourself. I had always had poor self-esteem so my depressed, self-critical mind understood this in an over the top way. I comprehended it as that I am not important at all and that I should do whatever I can to help others even if it’s at the expense of my feelings/health.

I went to a relatively small Christian college because I wanted to learn the trade of journalism as well as grow in my faith.

In my second year I took theology with one of my favorite professors. Towards the end of the semester I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t actually sure about Christianity anymore. I was devastated because I thought my foundation was so strong, but it cracked in two.

For two years I searched to find my faith. I spoke with friends and Biblical/theological scholars; I took numerous classes and read many books. I could not grasp what I once had so after graduation I gave up.

I struggled to understand the world through a skeptic’s eyes which is quite different from how a Christian views the world. I had to figure out what I believed now that I was a non-religious individual.

I have found value in myself, given myself permission to rest and I don’t have to live up to a “higher being’s” expectations of me that I would never meet.

I am content in my skepticism and have no desire to go back to Christianity. I have found strength within myself to cope with mental illness and get through issues on my own. I believe in my own power which is something I never did before.

Since I always ask a question at the end, I won’t make this one any different. How has religion helped/hindered your mental health journey?

Remember everyone, we all have different experiences and points of view. Let’s not push our beliefs on to others.

Reasons To Live

It is completely acceptable to stay alive for tiny reasons. Because you want to hear your favorite song one more time. Because your pet will miss you if you leave. The moon is just too pretty to never see. The beautiful sunsets are just too precious to never see again. Because you haven’t seen the next season of a really good TV show. Because you want to see the Christmas lights this year. If you are alive, you are doing enough.

So we push, to tear down the walls. Of the box that life has left us in to keep us away. And now we push to stay together. Know that nobody is going to save us from ourselves. The bad memories will knock us down. The good memories will lift us up. If you are surviving, just know that I am proud of you.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love, Francesca.

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Remember…

Remember…

Remember who you are.

Remember how you got here.

Remember what you love.

Remember what happiness is.

Remember your friendships.

Remember where you’re going.

Remember to accept your diagnosis.

Remember that you are not your illness.

Remember to have hope, to love and have aspirations.

Remember to allow yourself to feel and to live.

Remember that you are human and perfect in your imperfections.

Remember to let go.

Remember to move on.

Remember.

To be.

Remember this,

That your existence proves that there is a perfect world;

That perfect world is within you.

Unleash your inner magic and allow your inner-tuition to guide you.

Love yourself.

Always, remember this.

Love, Francesca