For This Season

I’ve been so embarrassed to ask for prayer lately because sometimes it feels like my life is just a never-ending drama. With all the seizures, OCD, depression, PTSD, new symptoms, other health illnesses we’re still trying to diagnose, and then the most recent OCD worsening, a new stomach issue, and over a week long lingering migraine thats the result of a head injury: it just feels like it should be the end of the ‘hard stuff.’ That there shouldn’t be more and if there is, it’s somehow my fault.

I have this little voice inside of me that tells me I’ve used up my entire allotment of sympathy and prayers; that life should be easy and painless and perfectly put together now because I’ve maxed out my quota for pain and people are tired of hearing about it already.

(Never mind that I am tired of living it already!!)

Against all the blaring sirens in my heart and soul telling me I am “too much” and “out of turns to ask for help” and I just need to “be quiet, suck it up and handle it on my own”…

I’m saying:

I need prayers in this season because my heart is breaking in a new kind of way that I didn’t know was possible. Who knew there were more ways for it to break? And I cringe asking for prayers, because I wish more than anyone that it was all put together already and I didn’t need them. But I do. So can you please pray for me? Again?

As I wrote in my journal God so tenderly seemed to respond in my soul, “Who put a limit on mercy, Summer? Was it me? Did I say you were out of turns for compassion, grace and love? Who told you that you were a burden and that people were weary of walking alongside you?

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive this brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus looks Peter in the eye and blows his mind. “I tell you not just seven, but seventy times seven.”

Jesus looked me in the eye and whispered the same thing over my heart this week.

Who am I to limit how many times I can be on the receiving end imageof mercy and grace and forgiveness and prayers? Should I receive the tenderj and fierce prayers of my community only seven times? Or seventy times seven?

God himself is reminding me: if forgiveness is not limited, neither is mercy.

Or prayers. Or grace. Or love. Or compassion.

Do I deserve it? Have I earned it? Do I need to re-pay it? Will I have to ask again? Am I a burden? This week I am practicing the art of silencing all these questions and leaning into the grace of friends who have not once shamed me and told me to “just be well already.” Friends who have stood beside me and not grown weary in their love and prayers.

And I am standing in awe of a God who keeps whispering “seventy times seven” over me.

Maybe you need to be reminded today that seventy times seven is for you too.

Maybe you need to offer more than seven shots at grace to someone in your life.

Maybe God needs to step into your shame and fear and “people are SO tired of hearing this story from me” thoughts and remind you that this whole Gospel thing? It’s about mercy…

and mercy and mercy and mercy and mercy… the unlimited, never-runs-dry, seventy times seven kind.image.jpg

MM#3 “Just Be Held”~Casting Crowns

Sometimes I literally lay face down, not knowing what to do. I’ll be wet with sweat from wrestling with intrusive thoughts and questions that seem to not have answers. Sometimes, I’m on myimage. knees, praying. More often than not, it’s laying across my bed with salty tears slopping down my face or at times too weary to even cry.

My bedroom’s on the second floor and our house is completely non-air-conditioned so in intense heat I may just lay stretched out on the laminate floor, cool against my cheeks (I realize that may be slightly odd..).

Then there comes that moment in prayer: you know the one…when, whether the answer comes or not, the peace splashes over you like a cool, calm, refreshing wave. I roll over on my back-ooking up, and finally resting in God’s love and strength.

Whether I know what’s ahead or not, He knows and He wraps His arms around me (and you!) and infuses us with His strength, His confidence, His grace, and His love.

It is enough for today.

“And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held”

imageAt some point, we all have to make that decision. To take the next step, DO the [crazy hard] therapy to pull you out of an OCD mess, or whatever it is that sends you to your knees.

But sometimes you just can’t. You are weak and weighed down. That’s when you need to “Lay it down and let it go.” Let go of the fear that won’t let you sit with the anxiety (part of therapy), let go of the anger built up in your relationships, whatever it may be that’s stressing you out.

Lay it at the cross.

Then God steps in and holds you. Actually, it’s not then, it’s before that. He’s holding you all along but you are not able to notice the peace of Gods embrace until you let go of whatever is weighing on your mind…it’s then that you will be free to notice His warm, loving hands holding you.

While He, who is on the throne, is holding you and your eyes are on the cross: you will “Know He’s always loved you and He always will,” because He came to a sin-ridden earth to take it all away in the most horrific, painful, way: through death on a cross. If that’s not the loudest way to say “Child, I love you!” I don’t know what is!

“Your worlds not falling apart, it’s falling into place.”

His plan is DIVINE and perfect. So we can rest assured knowing that our lives are going exactly as planned. When things feel like they are spinning out of control, that’s when we search for the light and really reach for Jesus…which brings us to His arms to be Held. The moments where we know everything is going to be ok.

Listen to the song here!

“Just Be Held” Lyrics

By Casting Crowns
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held (stop holding on and just be held)
Just be held, just be held, just be held, just be held

MM#2 “Thy Will”~Hillary Scott & the Scott Family

 

“Thy Will” By Hillary Scott and The Scott FamilyHillary-Scott-Thy-Will-Cover (1)

“Thy Will” is a new single from Hillary Scott (the lead singer from Lady Antebellum) and her family.

It is a beautifully worded song that I feel sums up my life over the past few years. I think this is a song many others will relate to as well.

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here

I’m confused at why God is bringing me through this health journey and confused at why I’ve ended up in a dark place so very many times.

I don’t wanna think
I may never understand

It’s so hard for me to think that God is going to bring me through all of this heartache and at the end of it all I still may never understand why. Trust. I just keep trusting though because there IS a purpose.

That my broken heart is a part of your plan

How could a loving God include a broken heart in His plan for my life? Doesn’t He love me enough to give me a life I can enjoy? Or even enough to just give my mind an hour-long break every once and a while?

When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done.

He does love me; I can say that with certainty. In fact, He loves me so much that He is using my brokenness…He sees that the goodness that will come from my broken heart is immensely greater than my life without the hardship. He loves me so much that He wants to bless me with that greater life. The greater times to come.

I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now

Oh, I KNOW God is SO good! But yes, this journey does not feel good. It’s horrible, awful, and terrifying. The OCD, the mental torment, and the memories, are extremely painful.

And I know you think
Of things I could never think about

God is DIVINE! He sees, knows, and thinks about things so imagebeyond us humans. We can’t comprehend all the wonders of the universe because we wouldn’t be able to handle it.

It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise

It’s really hard to count my trial of OCD, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and seizures all A JOY because, again, they hurt! It’s hard for me to think and concentrate never mind do anything productive! How am I supposed to count all of that a joy? It’s hard.

Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not

That part couldn’t be more true! How many times each day do I make big plans for my future then God takes me somewhere completely different and unexpected then I get upset or worried that I’m not ‘where I want to be.’ Sometimes I think I know whats best…but I certainly do not! God is the only one who can see the whole picture; I can only see the puzzle pieces.

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Good news you have in store

After the honest verses just pouring out heartfelt cries out of grief, this beautiful bridge sums up the true reflection in my heart. The things I surely know to be true.

My prayer and my motto since I’ve discovered this song have been the 4 words of the chorus:

“Thy will be done.”

My prayer for you is that you can hold these 4 words dear as well.

 

Listen to the song on Hillary Scotts official YouTube channel Here.

Here re are the lyrics to the whole song:

“Thy Will” By Hillary Scott

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Good news you have in store
So, thy will be done

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord

Music Monday #1

This is the first official LIFEWITHSCHYFF Music Monday! So of course I’m going to share my all-time favourite song with you all! “Shake” by MercyMe is an upbeat celebration song about being changed by God. It is so upbeat you just cannot help wiggling in your seat! (Try not to…I dare you!)

In the chorus they sing, “Shake, shake, shake; like you’re changed, changed, changed. He found me and He set me free and He brought me back to life!”

image
Yes, they are doing the MercyMe “Shake” dance!

The lyrics not only speak of the healing and joy that God Almighty brought to the broken life before they had found Him, but also of the positive changes God brought to life even ‘when everything seemed fine.’

“No matter when it happened; at 7 or 95; move your feet ’cause you are free and you’ve never been more Ali-I-I-ve!”

It’s the perfect song to celebrate the opening of my new website (again, don’t forget to subscribe!!) 

Now, all my readers: Shake, shake, shake, if you’re changed, changed, changed…or shake if you’re excited for my new website and Music Monday’s starting up!image

Have a listen to this song and check out the official music video on YouTube here.

You can also find “Shake” on iTunes! It’s off of their latest album “Welcome to the New.”

 

 

“Shake”

By MercyMe

I just can’t believe
Where my life was at
All that I know is that my heart was broken
And I don’t ever wanna go back

Ain’t no explanation
How I saw the light
He found me and set me free
And it brought me back to life

Blame it on the transformation
Changed down to the core
His love is real
And I can’t sit still
Cause my name’s not shamed no more

Great God Almighty done changed this
Great God Almighty, He done changed me

You gotta shake, shake, shake
Like you’re changed, changed, changed
Brand new looks so good on you
So shake like you’ve been changed

Come on and shake, shake, shake like you’re changed
Shake, shake, shake like you’re changed

Maybe He came to you
When everything seemed fine
Or maybe your world was upside down and hit you right between the eyes
No matter when it happened
At 7 or 95
Move your feet ’cause you are free
And you’ve never been more alive

You gotta shake, shake, shake
Like you’re changed, changed, changed
Brand new looks so good on you
So shake like you’ve been changed

Come on and shake, shake, shake
Like you’re changed, changed, changed
Brand new looks so good on you
So shake like you’ve been changed

Come on and shake, shake, shake like you’re changed
Shake, shake, shake like you’re changed
Shake, shake

Great God Almighty done changed me
Great God Almighty, He done changed me
Great God Almighty done changed me
Great God Almighty, He done changed me

No matter when it happened
At 7 or 95
Move your feet, ’cause you are free
And you’ve never been more alive
You gotta shake, shake, shake
Like you’re changed, changed, changed
Brand new looks so good on you
So shake like you’ve been changed

You gotta shake, shake, shake
Like you’re changed, changed, changed
Brand new looks so good on you
So shake like you’ve been changed

Come on and shake, shake, shake
Like you’re changed, changed, changed
Brand new looks so good on you
So shake like you’ve been changed

Come on and shake, shake, shake like you’re changed
Shake, shake, shake like you’re changed
Shake, shake

Great God Almighty done changed me
Great God Almighty, He done changed me

Question That Makes Us Fake

How are you?

The most common greeting-so common that it just springs out of peoples mouthes without them even thinking. Although, most people feel genuinely interested in the other persons life when asking the question.

People aren’t built to expect bad things or bad days, so when asking ‘how are you’ they are usually just ready to hear all the good and wonderful things that have been happening in that persons life.

Unfortunately, not everyones lives are all sunshine and daisies. That leaves pressure for those of us who have been struggling. We feel we need to respond with positive answers-regardless of how we are actually feeling. We feel we we need to pretend everything is going how we hoped it would be.

Why do we do this? It’s so fake and routine!

At church I often I find myself frantic for the ‘right‘ answers when asked, “How are you?” For simplicity sake and so I didn’t need to break out into a big honest spiel, I reply, “Good!” or “Alright!” And to my close friends, whom I fear may see right through me, I shrug my shoulders and make ‘that distressed face.’ That’s when you know things are very bad.

Really, I’m fine…except for I am totally not. I’m completely falling apart inside. My mind is a raging hurricane! My thoughts are a disgusting junkyard full of twisted metal!

I am beyond upset and disappointed in myself for slipping so far from where I was just a few short weeks ago. It scares me that all it takes is one wee trigger to set my mind off, to shake me to my core and to completely disrupt my life.

But then, I’m also upset at myself for being upset with myself (totally makes sense, right?) because this is not my fault. Again, I remind myself that recovery comes with setbacks, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t escape them.

“This is just a setback. This is just a setback. This is just a setback.
3…6…9…12…15…18…21…24…27…30…33…”
(Repeat. Repeat. Repeat…)

Imagine being so consumed by something that you literally could not think of anything else until you felt certain of the outcome you needed…so caught up in the thoughts and worries that you could not go to work, concentrate in conversations, do simple math (like counting out money), or perhaps even stand to be around people because your brain is essentially on overdrive.

The result: a heavy, crushing, debilitating, long-lasting, wave of anxiety.

It was so much that I tried to end my life…again. It pains me to say that. I so badly want to keep it a secret because I am so ashamed of myself. Ashamed that I didn’t tell anybody. Ashamed that thoughts that appear SO trivial could drive me to such extremes.

This is the harsh reality of mental illness.image

It brings people to the place they said they would never go. That dark, scary, place. The place I thought I was so far from. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it and it changes your thinking. You think no one really cares. You think death is the only option. You think this is the safest way.

For me, the distress comes from harm OCD.

My mind races 123876562431078465 miles a minute. I’m scared of my mind. I’m scared about these intrusive thoughts. I’m (irrationally) scared for my loved ones, and even strangers’, safety. Even though I know I would never act on these thoughts. Ever. I’m so scared of acting on the thoughts though. I’m terrified that there is half an ounce of longing to the thoughts; as if that part of me wants and enjoys the thoughts. They feel so real.

My greatest fear is people around me getting physically hurt-especially the people I love the most…and what if that came from me…what if I was the one that hurt them!? I couldn’t live with that happening, so I do everything in my power to prevent it.

The media does not help. Many tv series show people killing left and right. They make it look “normal.” Often the killer doesn’t even have a motive! So then, I sit there and think “What if that’s me one day!? What if I just went crazy and attacked someone!?”

That is why this week, I thought the only way to keep other people safe (from myself) was to hurt myself. It doesn’t make sense and it’s not true but that’s what I thought. It’s what my OCD made me believe was true.

What I did not think about was ANYTHING else. Not about other people, my dog, my dreams, Gods plan/timing… I could only think about all the horrible things that I could do. I didn’t think of anything real; just what I felt was real.

It is a miracle that I escaped unharmed…I mean NO liver damage when my liver should be in liver failure. If that’s not a divine sign from God that He is not finished with you yet, I don’t know what is!

I’m fighting my brain constantly (literally constantly). I was drained from this never-ending battle.

OCD had a firm grip on me last week even though I am doing everything I possibly can to get past this. I’ve tried telling myself, “Summer, you would never do that. Thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t mean anything.” I’ve tried to ignore the thoughts; I’ve tried not to ignore the thoughts. The best thing I can do is to just ‘let the thoughts come and go as they please.’ ‘Don’t give the thoughts meaning.’ ‘Do not try to fight the thoughts.’

Simple right?

NO!! Its so ridiculously hard to let go of revolting thoughts and images that literally make me vomit at times. My coping strategies that helped me out of this mess before seem completely useless right now. Regardless, I will continue to do everything I can to manage until something changes.

So, next time you go to ask someone how they have been, try some of these alternatives:

How has your day been so far?

Have you had a nice morning so far?

Recall and ask about the little things in their life. It means the world to people when you ask about the little details of their life.

Ask about an area of life that they care about. (Writing, drawing, music, tattoos, school, work, sports, exercise, pets/animals, relationships, travel, ect.)

Just simply tell them that you have been thinking or praying for them. There is something fantastic about the feeling of someone thinking about you. You feel cared for, loved on, and not forgotten.

Or hit them with a compliment instead of a vague question! Don’t you look extra lovely today!

Or, the best thing people can do for me when they know I’ve been struggling is say, “Hey, can I pray for you right now?” BEFORE you leave me and I’m left wondering if any people care enough to go home and actually pray for me.

If you don’t know the person well enough to say anything personal, just say, “Wow! It’s so nice to see you! I pray for you often. Hope to see you again soon!”

Don’t assume that because I look well, I am doing well. There is a very real battle going on inside my head that no one else sees.

NEW WEBSITE!!

Hey there readers!!
I am super excited to introduce you to my NEW WEBSITE!!

LIFEWITHSCHYFF

WELCOME 😀

I have moved all the blogposts from http://www.lifewithschyff.blogspot.com to this new domain webpage (www.lifewithschyff.com). All the content is the same but everything will be posted here now!

There are a few new features that this website offers:

  1. You can sign up to ‘subscribe‘ to my blog! Every time I post an update it will be sent directly to your inbox!
  2. I will be starting ‘Music Mondays‘ where I make a post about a song that I think is inspiring, has a great meaning, or has a great story. That will happen every Monday!
  3. I will have a ‘Life With Summer & Zoë‘ page where I will occasionally post highlights of our life and some of the fun things we have been up to!
  4. I also have a page called ‘Inspire.’ The idea of this page is for people to leave messages of encouragement for other people who may be struggling in some way or another. You can leave short inspirational messages, scripture verses, coping strategies, short stories that offer hope or even funny quotes or jokes to just make people smile.

I will still post on my social media’s when I post a new blog (as I was doing before) but if you subscribe/follow my blog you can be sure to never miss one!!

Also, the website is not in its FINAL layout/template right now, so I do apologize in advance for a few changes that may come in the next few months, but hopefully nothing major!

Thank you to all the faithful readers who have made this website a possibility!

You ‘da best!

*Don’t forget to subscribe!!

Stay tuned for a blogpost tomorrow!

Much love,

Summer Schyff (& Zoë)

#GetLoud

The lives of people with mental health conditions are often plagued by stigma as well as discrimination. People with mental health conditions are often depicted as dangerous, violent, unpredictable, manipulative, fakers, dramatic, or exaggerated. This stigma is a reality for many people living with a mental illness, and it’s one of their greatest barriers to living a complete and satisfying life.

This week, this very stigma prevented me from getting proper medical care.

I went to see a specialist who I had been waiting a VERY long time to see. Her resident came to talk to me first then he went to talk to the Dr privately. She came in and told me that the only possible reasons my thyroid levels could fluctuating is because I’m either not taking my medication regularly or its not being absorbed properly (but she’s “pretty confident that that’s not the issue”).

I TAKE MY MEDICATION EVERYDAY-WITHOUT FAIL!!
…Sometimes an hour or so late…but I never miss it…
Then she tells me we should stop focusing on my symptoms as medical symptoms and start looking at all my other diagnosis’. (Clearly, referring to the mental health piece.) My mom asked, “So you looked at her mental health records and assume that’s all this could possibly be?” To which the Dr bluntly responded, “Yes, that’s exactly what I think.” She repeated over and over and OVER that we should get blister packs (prepackaged scheduled pill containers from the pharmacy). We told her that we put my meds in a pill organizer that is just as effective but cheaper. The Dr insisted we use blister packs because “The pharmacist puts the exact doses of medication in each day.”

Seriously!? You’re saying that you think we are COMPLETELY incapable of putting my meds in the pill container?? And WHY would I purposely take the incorrect dose!? I KNOW how sick I feel when my levels are off! And if we’re not doing it properly then why are the rest of my meds dispensed, absorbed, and working right?? If this is all a mental health problem, why am I doing so well mentally, right now, while my symptoms are so bad?

And to top it all off she told me, “There is absolutely no connection between mental health and thyroid function.” Really!? What about when my depression got really bad in December and January when both times my thyroid was extremely low? Then as soon as my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) went back to normal I was FINE mentally! How do you explain that? Coincidence? Probably not.

What doctors need to realize is that we, as patients, don’t expect them to know everything. We really don’t. However, we do expect them to listen and treat us like intelligent, rational people. Maybe some of us are square and don’t fit into the round holes most doctors see everyday; but that doesn’t mean our symptoms aren’t real.

I also believe that this Dr may not have had any other ideas as to why my thyroid levels are fluctuating and I have all these other symptoms. She may not have an answer…honestly that’s ok.

What is not ok is her treating me like dirt.

It is not ok for her to completely write me off (before she has even met and talked to me!) just because I struggle with mental illness and my symptoms and labs are not textbook.

I am not just “a mentally ill” person. I am not my illness. I have a mental illness, yes. But I am so much more than it. I will not stand to let my mental illness be all that other people, including health care professionals, see.

This stigma is NOT OK!

 

So, how are we going to change it? 

We are going to bring as much awareness to mental health as we possibly can. We are going to shout it from the rooftops! (Too much?)

You, my faithful readers, are all going to tell your neighbours, friends, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, and especially your children, that:

Mental illness is not something to be scared of. It can be scary to go through, certainly, but it is only a chemical imbalance in a persons brain. Make sure you tell them (this is important!) that it is not a personality flaw or character trait!! It is not fake, exaggerated, or dramatic. Tell them that, any type of mental illness can be serious, debilitating, and in some cases the person may even put themselves in dangerous situations (again, remember that this is not for attention-it is a sign that a person is ill and needs some form of treatment). Tell them that mental health problems are VERY common. Try to find a story of someone who has struggled with mental health and have recovered or are recovering. It can be mine, another friends’, a family members’, or anyone’s really. Just share a story of hope.

If you have struggled with anything mental health related I strongly encourage you to share your story with people!

~If you have been open about your struggle, than I am so proud of you! I know just how difficult that can be; the uncertainty of people’s reactions can be utterly terrifying! Please keep sharing your story-make sure to keep it as hopeful as possible!!

~If you haven’t told many people about what you have/are going through, I encourage you to tell at least 2 people-anyone! Start with me if you have to. You will be surprised at how many people will be supportive, how many people will be encouraging, and how many people have their own untold stories that you would never know about otherwise.

~If you are struggling silently, please, please, please, talk to someone! It’s extremely scary to open up to someone about something so personal, especially to a stranger, but it’s so freeing. Through talking to someone you will learn ways to deal with or manage your symptoms, and that is a wonderful feeling.

 

 

It will do the world so much good if we all could talk freely about mental health, without talking in hushed tones.

It is crucial that those on the front lines, who may be working with people who have a mental illness, receive the education and support needed to help manage bias. Programs need to be developed to teach health care professionals to identify and manage their biases toward mental illness and the people who have the mental illness, so that it doesn’t interfere with clinical care.

Training more people across the medical field in mental health issues creates the possibility of incorporating mental health screening in primary care settings, promoting early treatment and emphasising the physical component to a mental illness. There also needs to be education about the physical-psychological connection of mental health conditions and physical illnesses.

People most definitely should not be discriminated against because of their mental health conditions whether past or present. And certainly not by so called “health care professionals.” It’s just not ok.

This isn’t the first time I have been discriminated against and I don’t think it will be the last time but this time, I’m not letting it just slip by.

We need change and to get there I need your help! Please do your part to help raise awareness! Time to #GetLoud!

**THIS IS MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK!! (May 2-8th)** So even more reason to #GetLoud!

 

Ruins

If you’ve ever felt like part of your life was in ruins, then you certainly aren’t alone. Maybe you’ve uttered things like this:


My health is disintegrating.
I’m never going to recover.
This struggle will never end.
My marriage is broken.
My finances are in shambles.
This relationship can never be repaired.
My kids are a wreck.
I’m a wreck.
I’m completely devastated.
Yes, we’ve all been in a place at one time or another when we would definitely say something or someone in our life is in ruins.
When thinking about our response to something that’s in ruins, I’m reminded about the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. Upon hearing the news that the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins, having been burned with fire, this was his response:
“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4)
I think there is something here we need to recognize in how we should respond when faced with devastating news that crushes us to the core.
He acknowledged his hurt and pain.

He wept.

He mourned.
Even went without food for a while!
But he did all this…before God.
When we are smack in the middle of an impossible situation, we bring our hurts before God. We pour out our hearts to him. We don’t have to hold it all together for fear of what might come out of our mouth. I love Nehemiah’s transparency before the God of heaven! He doesn’t hold anything back. He empties himself completely before God.
But the story doesn’t stop there. If you continue reading, you’ll come to chapter 2, verse 17. This is where we gain even more insight into our next step when we are on the brink of despair:
“Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”” (Nehemiah 2:17)
First of all, who are the them he is referring to? He is speaking to his people–fellow Israelites who were exiled with him years before. God’s people!
When we’re faced with devastation, we don’t go running for comfort and support to people who aren’t believers in Christ.
We rally around those who are on the same journey of faith.
And then Nehemiah takes a step of courage.
A step of faith.
A step towards healing.
He doesn’t stay stuck in his despair.
He begins the process of rebuilding.
To stay stuck in misery and hopelessness would be disgraceful. He doesn’t want to stay there! And he realizes he can’t do it alone.
Dear friend, if you are stuck in despair and staring at broken pieces of your life: pour out your heart to God. He knows your pain and hurt. Give it to Him.
But don’t stay there.
Just like Nehemiah, look around you. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Accept the fact that you can’t rebuild in your own strength.
It might be a long journey to recover from what you’re going through, but I can promise you God will lead you one step at a time, just as he guided Nehemiah through one brick at a time.
He’s a master at taking things in ruins and redeeming them for His glory!

Even When It Hurts

These past few months have been a roller coaster. One week I’m feeling fantastic, the next week I’m sliding into a deep pit of depression with a side of psychosis and dissociation, then the next week I’m feeling mentally well but physically unwell, into Strathroy hospital, home, into Strathroy hospital again, then home, into Parkwood hospital, then home.
It’s draining.
 But, when all hope seems lost, I remember that not all is lost to the God of the impossible. He can take us through this place of weariness, weakness, pain, and struggles, and bring us to a new life of peace. We live in a fallen world so (I hate to break it to you but…) not all things are going to work out as we hope they will. We do not know the future or what’s going to happen but we can rest assured and know that even in these terrible struggles, the worst situations, seemingly hopeless circumstances, God will work all things out for our good. That is truth.

Your struggle, situation, circumstance, however painful it may be, is the path that God is using to reveal more of himself to you. He knows you are going to need to lean on Him to get through this and that dependence is OK. In fact, that dependence on God is a wonderful, beautiful thing. Your struggles will notcannot defeat you. They may appear to be taking you down but they are actually helping you to rise above. God will shape and transform your heart through this trial…but only if you allow Him. Why this particular, incredibly painful, trial? Honestly, I don’t know. We may never know this side of heaven. We just have to trust that He knows what He is doing and that His plan is to prosper us, not to harm us, and to give us a hope and a future.

We must learn to trust Him even when it hurts.
 
We must stand in faith no matter how big the storm that is overwhelming our life.

 

 

Some days trusting God seems like the hardest thing to do, other days it’s a breeze, as if it were the only thing to do. The Lord brings the tide in and takes it out. He controls the wind and the rain. The sun rises at His command. He certainly has perfected His purpose for our lives and will provide for what we need.
 
Don’t let your weariness make you think that God does not care for you when your prayers seem unanswered. His mercy and unending love are with you even now. He knows what you are doing in your life. He sees your tears and holds them in a bottle. He does not forget your name, where you are, or any other little detail about you. He is the God of all possibility and ultimately all things must bow to His will for your life.

The days are growing short and evil is abounding. Take joy knowing that even through Satan, the hand of God is in FULL CONTROL. He will never fail you nor will He let anything in this world destroy you.

Be strong. Jesus’ promises give us peace no matter what happens here. None of these struggles we are going through – physical illness, mental illness, death of a loved one, stress, overwhelming business of life, social problems – can impede the purpose He has for us or the love He has for us. He knew our stories before the foundation of the earth.

Trust that even in this mess, God will be with us.
That is the hope that separates believers from the rest of the world.

*if you’re not a believer or you haven’t accepted Christ into your life and you would like to know more about these promises that could be for you too-contact me! Or if you would like prayer or someone to talk to-contact me…I would love to hear from you! (summerschyff@hotmail.ca)

Recovery Update: The Joys and Sorrows of 2015

It’s that time of year again when we evaluate everything we have accomplished over the past year.

 
THIS YEAR so much has changed! 


I spent the first 4 months (of a total of 9 month visit) in the new Parkwood mental health care hospital. During that time I received electro convulsive therapy (ECT-read past blogs for more info on that part of my journey). The ECT helped SO much but it was really only part of the treatment I needed to fully recover. Although my Dr. at that time thought that this was all I needed and I just needed to work out the rest with a psychologist (who I happened to not get along with…for good reasons). So, even though I was still struggling with severe OCD (that seemed no further help could be offered) and major dissociative episodes, my psychiatrist decided to send me home in May. 

I was home for a total of 3 weeks where I struggled through each and every day and night. After I had been home for a few weeks my primary contact at the hospital suddenly changed (I’m not ok with sudden changes!) and then my psychiatrist announced she was moving to a different hospital and I would be getting a new Dr. 

I felt shaken. Everything that was supposed to be my constant was shifting and the crazy thoughts in my head began to take over. Not just my mind but physically through dissociations.

So then, crisis after crisis occurred and my parents became understandably drained and had no choice but to let the crisis team to admit me to the hospital AGAIN. I spent several consecutive days unable to speak or communicate past nodding/shaking my head for yes or no. When I’m in this state I’m very irrational and tend to do things to hurt or injure myself badly or just run away, usually to somewhere unsafe (like the train tracks). I actually have very little memory of these times. I am very grateful for that but the things I do remember haunt me. Fortunately there are no full memories just little snapshots every once and a while and the memories of trying to get my bearings-calling my beyond-worried-mother when I “snap out” of the dissociation.

Once I was admitted I found out I would be put on a different unit than I had been on in my past stays over two years. I was super nervous about this move but it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened! The nurses on this unit seemed to have a different perspective and had less judgement. Along with the new unit came a new psychiatrist! Again a huge, terrifying, change! But it worked out wonderfully!! I was supposed to see my new outpatient Dr (who I hadn’t met yet) just a few days after I was admitted. So this lovely lady came to see me inpatient. She just walked into my room and started talking to me like we knew each other! Apparently she had come the day before and met me but I was in a dissociation and didn’t say a word to her! She probably had no idea how she was going to help a patient who didn’t talk! Eventually my new psychiatrist,  Dr. N, recognized my confusion and we did our introductions. I would soon find out what an incredible answer to prayer this Dr. was.

It didn’t take me long to grow attached to Dr. N and apparently the feeling was mutual because she wasn’t planning on taking on inpatients but she kept me (as inpatient then later as an outpatient!). As we got to know each other better she recognized how big a problem the OCD was and started me on Memantine: an experimental med for OCD and eventually Valproic Acid to help with the dissociations. This combination worked! Can you believe it!? After too many years of suffering my mind FINALLY had some relief!! And it took a while, but combined with individual “Dialectical Behavioral Therapy” the dissociations came to an end too.


Isn’t that a happy ending!?!? 
 
Suffering, suffering, suffering…then boom God sends some healing! 

When you think you can’t go one more step…God steps in and walks a thousand until you have the strength to go on your own again. When you think you can’t handle one more bad day…God sends someone to make you smile or laugh. If you think you’re never going to get better, you think you’re going to die from this terrible illness, you think your situation is completely hopeless…I promise you with everything in me, that God will step in and show you HEALING-but it will be on His time not yours. In the meantime He will be holding your right hand.

This time last year (it feels like so much longer than that!) I was in a really, really, terrible place. I did not have any desire to live or fight off my illness. When I reflected on the year that passed I felt like such a failure. I hadn’t done anything to get me closer to my goals. In fact, my goals had turned to dust and all I was doing was passing time. This part of my life was so terrible that I don’t even remember much of it, like I blocked it out of my memory. 

Now that I’m passed that, I’m doing everything I can not to go back, but I do need to look at this time so I can see and ponder all the wonderful ways God protected me: from cars passing when I dissociated on a street, from trains while I walked the tracks, from my countless suicide attempts, and from small things like infections from my deep cuts from the glass I picked up. It really is a miracle that I’m still here today. Now, near the end of this year, I thank God for the blessing of life. Even though it’s still tough. I’m not yet fully recovered. Far from it, actually. But I’m way farther than I was. Somedays I still have to fight SO incredibly hard. It will be like that for a while still but I believe the worst is past. This is clichéd but: because of these struggles I am stronger, my faith is unshakable, I look for blessings more, and live life fully.

I can honestly say, for the first time in quite a while, that I am REALLY looking forward to all that the new year has to bring! I’m excited to have Zoë by my side full time. I’m excited to keep working on my OCD (well…sort of…it’s the hardest thing to ever do but it has results that improve the quality of my life!). I’m excited to keep working on other aspects of my mental health and excited to (hopefully) get some answers for my physical health. I’m excited to be going to church again like normal people (as opposed to leaving the sanctuary or sitting in the balcony). I’m excited for the possibility of online courses in the fall (if things keep improving as they have). I’m also excited for small things, like, the possibility of living an outpatient life, the possibility of making new friends, and hanging out with old friends (doing fun things instead of visiting in a hospital setting).

Most of all I’m happy to just be living the life of a happy person.


So, thank you God, for an INCREDIBLE end to the year! I owe it all to you! I just want to know the person who created me and blessed me with this new outlook, better. I am fully yours!

To all those who haven’t gotten this far in recovery yet…you will get there. It feels impossible and lonely. This journey is hard, I know. The way I feel now is so worth the fight! So I can’t push you enough to keep fighting with all (even if it’s only reaching out your hand!) the strength you can muster. You’re going to make it because I am praying for each and every person who reads this blog.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have been following this journey! Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, kept in contact, hugged me, taken time to make (temporary) changes-until I can overcome more of my OCD, to those who have gone out of their way to help me with my anxiety, or to those who just made me feel normal. I love and appreciate you all! 

I feel like a brand new person.

Personal Update and How You Can Pray For Me

Personal update and how you can pray for me: 

Right now, mentally, I am doing quite well! Praise The Lord! For the most part my OCD has been manageable and the dissociations have been minimal no big “episodes” where I run away, get lost, cut, and loose contact with reality (although at times I have to work really hard to fight them off 👊 I’ve learned coping skills that actually help!). Although things are all well right now I will still have bad days ahead. 🙏 Please pray that I will continue to take life one moment at a time. Pray that I will be able to remember the good days when I’m having bad days and most importantly pray that I have more good days!

 
I’ve been coming off of one of my main medications 💊 [nosinan-my antipsychotic] (due to side effects). The first time I came off of it I was a wreck!! I had a major dissociative episode and then almost 3 weeks of days after days of complete dissociation. So we went back on it and added a new medication that would hopefully replace the old one. I’m SO happy to say that this switch has been quite successful ! I’m almost off the nosinan (i was on 100mg now I’m down to 25mg!). 🙏 Please pray for the remainder of this switch! And that this new “mood stabilizer” continues to be effective.
 
My Dr says that if things continue to be stable and I’m feeling good we are looking at discharge from the hospital in a couple weeks! YAY! And I have a good feeling about this discharge because my team is so great, flexible, and supportive!
 
On the downside my seizures have really been acting up over the past week. They had been pretty controlled for such a long time but I’ve had 4 big ones this week and luckily only minor injuries have occurred! 🙏 Please pray that we can figure out why I’m having this flare all of a sudden. Please pray that these episodes stop happening. Pray for safety if they are to occur and pray for Zoë  as this is great training and experience for her! 🐶
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
In these troubled times (and all times) God isn’t just some far off god who created everything who now just sits back and watches us run around like maniacs…NO God is a loving humble God who actually cares for us! He can do anything in the entire universe but He chooses to come care for us and hold us up. How incredible is that?
Father, we are in awe of your love and character. We praise you for all you’ve done and all you have yet to do. Help us to love you with a passion even as we’re struggling.
 
A big thank you goes out to all of my prayer warriors out there-I have the most wonderful supporters from all over the world! God has really blessed me with the greatest friends and family, dog, Dr, rec therapist, and team ever!

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