MM: Sidewalk Prophets-“Keep Making Me”

This Monday, please listen to Sidewalk Prophets’ “Keep Making me” by clicking HERE BEFORE reading how this song has influenced my life. I want to hear what this song means to you! I want to hear what it stirs in your heart and I want to know how I can pray for you. Visit the contact page and send me a message through there or email me at summer@lifewithschyff.com

Keep Making Me~Sidewalk Prophets Lyrics

Make me broken
So I can be healed
‘Cause I’m so calloused
And now I can’t feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken

Make me empty
So I can be filled
‘Cause I’m still holding
Onto my will
And I’m completed
When you are with me
Make me empty

‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

Make me lonely
So I can be Yours
‘Til I want no one
More than You, Lord
‘Cause in the darkness
I know You will hold me
Make me lonely

Have you ever prayed a “scary” prayer? One where you were not sure you really wanted to say or mean the words? I can remember a few years ago praying for God to transform me. I found it written in an old journal, “I realize that this might mean going through some hard trials, but all I want is to be fully devoted to you. Change my heart and mind, transform me, Lord.”

I already had the OCD and it was already making me depressed at the time I wrote that. I already believed I was a horrible person full of sinful thoughts (the OCD thoughts of harming people, which I now realize are not sinful).

So there I was thinking maybe God would send me something that would somehow change my thoughts; make me stop thinking horrible things. Instead, He just looked down at me compassionately. “Oh, precious daughter! Who told you these horrible lies? I know the real you and when the time is right I will send you exactly what you need to see the truth about who you are to me and the real meaning behind those thoughts that you have. Everything is planned perfectly for what you need. My timing is precise.”

I didn’t expect that I would start having seizures, my health would deteriorate. And that my mental health would become disabling to the point that I could not function. It would lead me to years in the psychiatric hospital, countless ambulance & ER visits, hundreds of tests that only left us with more questions, and even an ICU stay.

I had expectations of how I thought God should run my life…lets all pause to laugh at how small our little minds are.

A lot has happened since I prayed that prayer, it HURT, but let me tell you, it has all been for His good. I have been a total work in progress at all stages in my life, and of course right now. I feel the Lord ‘keeps making me’ change into something different, something better. He’s breaking me down and tearing away all the things I used to think were important. He is slowly chiseling away all of my brokenness.

He’s striping me of all the ‘securities’ I once thought were actually safe.

The devil wants me to feel alone in my journey of learning to manage and defeat OCD, striving to become better, and becoming who I was made to be. I refuse to feel alone in my journey. I know, without a doubt God is with me and surely someone else out there has felt these same emotions and experienced this same changing process. Lord Keep Making Me…

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Make me broken – I’ve been broken for a long time but God gave me a different perspective
on my brokenness
So I can be healed – If I must be made broken, the reward of healing is worth the pain of breaking.
‘Cause I’m so calloused –Somewhere along the way I was wounded and broken but I didn’t realize then the secrets and hiding created callouses.
And now I can’t feel –Callouses ‘protect’ my emotions.
I want to run to You – He’s the only one I could run to. I’d take the pain and the brokenness a million times over if it were the only thing to cause the yearning in my heart to run to Him like it has these past four years.
With heart wide open – This is the hard part. With heart wide open. How do you really open your heart wide when you’ve been hurt and when the process of cleaning your heart out is incredibly painful?
Make me broken – I’ve certainly been broken now – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Make me empty – Empty. There’s no feeling quite like it. I remember feeling absolutely nothing. I wanted to die at the time. Empty is lonely.
So I can be filled – I had to be emptied so I could make room to be filled, but filled only with Him this time around. Empty me so I can be filled with nothing but God.
‘Cause I’m still holding – Holding, indeed. Sometimes even with a death grip.
Onto my will – Yup, my will. My stupid, stupid will. Why would I ever think my plans for my life would be better than the Father’s? I don’t know, but I’m still tempted to hang onto my stupid, stupid will. It’s silly, I know, but I’m learning to surrender.
And I’m completed – Finally completed!
When you are with me –Only when you are with me. Please be with me.
Make me empty – Make me empty, so I can be filled with YOU.

[Chorus:]

Til You are my one desire – Lord, I want You to be my one desire. For all the times, I’ve put other people and things before you, forgive me.
‘Til You are my one true love – True love. There will be no love like Yours, Lord. Teach me to love like You do. And teach me to accept Your love for me.
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‘Til You are my breath, my everything – To be my breath. Could you be my breath, Lord? Could you be the words I speak, my every move, the breath I take? Be my breath, Lord.
Lord, please keep making me – Whatever it takes, no matter the price, please keep making me.

Make me lonely – Been there. Lonely. The veil was lifted and the dark reality of loneliness was revealed. You made me lonely. I had to experience that loneliness to desire You fully, though. If there was no other, Lord, but I still had You, I would cease to be lonely. If making me lonely was what it took to create a desire for You that burns deep within me, then make me lonely all over again.
So I can be Yours – Yours. I AM Yours. I don’t always show it, but I am trying. I am Yours.
‘Til I want no one – No one else could fill my longing for You. I don’t want any other more than You, Lord – You are the ultimate. You are perfect. There is no one better.
‘Cause in the darkness – Darkness is inevitable. It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but rather ‘when’ the darkness will come.
I know You will hold me – my whole life, I have spent asking You to hold me. Hold me in Your arms late at night when I felt all alone; for I know there is no place I’d rather be, but in Your arms, in Your loving embrace.
Make me lonely – Make me lonely all over again if that is what it takes.

[Chorus]

‘Til You are my one desire – The ONLY one.
‘Til You are my one true love – No love will be truer than Your love, Lord.
‘Til You are my breath, my everything – My EVERYTHING. I am nothing without You. Be my everything.
Lord, please keep making, – Never stop making me. Don’t give up on me.
I know You’ll keep making – Jesus, I trust in You. I trust You WILL keep making me.
Lord, please keep making me – Thank you for continuing to make me… YOURS.

Lord, if you need to clean my heart out, to scrap it from deep within because it’s the only way for me to truly see You, then let it be. Take the words of this song and scrape them upon my heart until I’m made into the person You want me to be.

Lord please keep making me…

Again, I want to hear what this song stirred in your heart and I want to know how I can pray for you. Visit the contact page and send me a message through there or email me at summer@lifewithschyff.com

Update: Fall 2016 Part 1

At this point in my therapy I am not where I ever expected to be. A year ago I thought I would have been further along and a few months ago I didn’t think I would ever get this far! You often think about the beginning and the end of therapy but then you kind of forget about the middle part of recovery where you have come so far but you also still have a long ways to go.

You forget that you can’t skip over steps to get to the end faster. It doesn’t work like that in mental health recovery. You have to take it slow, however, you can keep reflecting back at how far you have come and how much better you feel than when you were on the last step.

It’s been a while since I posted an update, so I figured it was about time!

I posted the last Music Monday a little over 2 months ago. The day it was posted I fell down the stairs and was unconscious for about 10 minutes. My mom called 911 and the paramedics put me in a neck brace and on a backboard then took me to the hospital. I was fortunate to (unsteadily) walk away from the hospital later with ‘only’ a concussion and a bucket load of bruises. My recovery from the concussion has been quicker than expected! The physical symptoms are mostly gone now but I am still struggling with the cognitive effects – memory, confusion, concentration, brain fog…things that were already issues but a little magnified right now, nothing too major.

Mentally, I did have a hard time switching back into “recovery mode” after the fall. I had two weeks where I didn’t do any OCD homework exposures at all. This wasn’t only because of the head injury. Part of me just got stuck in a negative “rut.” I kept telling myself that I could’t do the homework well enough so I might as well not do it at all. I wasn’t being lazy, I was just overwhelmed with fears and hopelessness.

I also had a couple really stressful events during this time. All that additional stress while recovering from a brain injury PLUS all the usual OCD stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. Then came the appointment where I was supposed to discuss the homework from the two weeks that I didn’t do it.

If you have a great therapist, they should understand how hard the work they are asking you to do actually is. They should understand and even expect that you are going to have setbacks and that normal life problems may appear a little amplified to an anxiety sufferer.

My therapist is fantastic, so she did not look at it as a bad thing or even think it was a setback. In her sweet accent, she just said, “I bet you needed that break from the work. Lets see how we can make things more manageable for this coming week.” That felt so validating to the work I was doing, but also offered a gentle hint of encouragmentand.

We did figure out how to make things go much better. The day after I saw her I picked up my homework and said to myself, “even if it doesn’t work today-you might be setting it up to make it work tomorrow. Just do it anyways Summer.”

Now, for the first time since I started this round of ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) in May, I feel like I am making progress that I can actually see. I have made progress like what is ‘typical’ for an exposure.

I have done things that I didn’t think I could do. I wasn’t even sure I would ever be able to do them!

But I did…and I can’t even explain how incredible it feels. I feel successful. I feel strong. I feel fearless(ish). And I feel proud.

It all started with picking up the homework and believing in myself. (And prayer.)

OCD: 14 (for the 2 weeks I didn’t do homework)

Summer: 31! (For the one month I have been totally beating OCD!!)

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Before I fell I had been planning on going to surprise a good friend, who moved 3 hours away, with a visit! My incredible Grandparents said they would take me (thanks again guys!). It was a much needed catch up day filled with smiles, laughs, and encouragement. I was able to surprise a friend, see her (very new) house, see her town, have lunch with her, visit by the lake, let my dog run in her backyard, and even show her how lovely it is to colour in an adult colouring book!

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My beautiful friend and I! Thank you Lord, for times like this.

If I think back to last year, there is no possible way that I could have managed a trip like this. Depression, self harm, and dissociations in addition to OCD were too frequent and I hadn’t quite figured out which coping strategies helped me the most. This means I was still having crisis situations very often and I wasn’t good at coping yet.

FLASH FORWARD to Now:

The fun and excitement from this visit outweighed the negative that the OCD thoughts and fears bring into everything.

…Wait…did I actually just say that!? Yes, it’s true!

Do you know how long it’s been since I did something that is supposed to be fun and actually could focus on anything except doing compulsions to keep everyone around me safe? TOO LONG. I don’t remember the last time, but I will remember this success.

OCD: 14
Summer: 31+6 (=37)

(1 for travel/sitting with uncertainty about what we were going to do, 2 for stopping in service stations, 2 for walking near a busy road while having thoughts, 1 for eating lunch at a busier restaurant)

Everything I do does come with challenges. Satan really knows how to use OCD against me. He knows that is how he can make me weak – so he can make me feel completely worthless, disgusting, unforgivable, and even invaluable in Gods eye’s…ALL of which is completely untrue no matter how often these horrible, awful, nasty thoughts come into my mind. So, to get back at satan, I’ve been trying to fight satan and the OCD with all I have and all the strength God is providing.

These past few weeks there has been a big change in the anxiety during exposures.

So… PRAISE THE LORD! Thank you, God, for bringing me to a therapist who is working hard to figure out which techniques will target my OCD best. Thank you for the strength and courage to do the crazy hard work that I would have labeled “too dangerous” in the past. Thank you.

I’m not noticing much change in regular everyday life yet, I’m sure that will be coming soon.

Any time that I have with low anxiety from the intrusive thoughts is precious! These past month where I have exposed myself to things that terrify me then just sat with it and slowly noticed the anxiety go down low…were just ~ WOW ~ wonderful!

Of course I still have a lot of difficult moments and days so your continued prayers are still SO appreciated!

Please pray that the OCD continues to improve. Pray that the ERP therapy gets easier. At the beginnings or before, I still am usually close to tears because I am so fearful of the thoughts. Pray for continued brain healing and answers to the other physical health symptoms that are messing up my system. Pray that I keep my eyes focused on the Lord and lean on Him for my strength.

*Part 2 to come soon*

“So OCD?”

We live in the age of different. “Hipster” is in and it’s cool to be unique, nerdy, and quirky. What better way to show your individuality than branding yourself “so OCD“?

Except for OCD IS NOT a quirk, or a set of tendencies…it’s an incapacitating, isolating disease that makes you afraid of your own mind. This is what it’s really like to have OCD:

*You believe you are a horrible person.

Imagine having a song stuck in your head. Now imagine that instead of a lovely, catchy tune it’s the thought of murdering your best friend. In horrendous graphic detail. Over and over again. You’re not mad at your best friend, and you’ve never even done anything violent, but…

It. Won’t. Stop. Playing.

You probably feel uneasy just reading that. But that’s what the “obsessive” part of OCD is like: intrusive, unwanted, disturbing thoughts that won’t go away. No one seems to know what causes them, although it might be miscommunication between parts of the brain or something faulty in its error detection circuit.

The thoughts aren’t always about you doing bad things, but they’re never pleasant. Most obsessions are based on deep fears — “What if I or someone I love gets sick?” — or basically the worst things one can think of, like blasphemy, racism, suicide, murder, rape, contamination, animal abuse, cannibalism, torture …

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People with OCD who have thoughts of doing something violent never actually act on these thoughts, and those who dread bad things happening almost never see those things happen. While most people can shake off a weird thought, when you have OCD, it sticks in your mind. Inevitably, you think, “Why do I keep thinking about these things? Is it because they’ll happen? Do I want them to happen?”

The answer’s no! No, you do not. But you will still fear you do.

*You’re Probably Not a Neat Freak

Sheldon, from Big Bang Theory, is depicted as having OCD. OCD is a debilitating condition so it is a bit strange that the show is often poking fun at his ‘compulsions’. The show plays on the OCD stigma by making sure to mention some part of his strict schedule (also can be related to aspergers syndrome which he also has) or his fear of germs. Don’t get me wrong, those are fears and compulsions that some people have but our society needs to be more aware that there are MANY other forms that OCD may come in.

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This means that despite what the media might have you think, having OCD doesn’t necessarily mean you’re neat and particular. Those of you into freak shows (sorry, reality shows): First of all, don’t even get me started on the show “Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners“…Second, have you ever seen that show “Hoarders“? Hoarding is often a symptom of OCD.

Compulsions can vary. Sometimes they correspond to fears, like washing your hands because you’re scared of contamination. Sometimes there’s no real logic behind them, like when you have to jump over a line on the floor because otherwise everybody you know will die horribly and it will be all your fault. Or you keep counting because you don’t want to lose control and start stabbing people.

Many don’t have physical compulsions at all, instead suffering from “purely obsessional” OCD, where all they have are obsessions. And some people with diagnosed OCD even obsessively doubt the fact that they have OCD.

OCD, at heart, is an anxiety disorder. Yet movie and TV characters with OCD are often shown washing their hands or straightening things, never suffering from overbearing anxiety. This is probably because it’s easier to show someone cleaning than to show someone going through extreme mental anguish.

*You Know There’s Something Wrong With You

One of the many differences between people who have OCD and people who are just “quirky” — is shame. Let’s be clear: If you regularly check your pockets to confirm that you’ve still got your car keys, or if you prefer your sandwiches with the crust cut off, or if you only eat orange Skittles, you’re not suffering from OCD.

Those are just quirks, and also the orange Skittles are obviously the best. People like quirks when they’re cute, fun, and harmless. When they involve picking at your fingernails to get blood (that isn’t even there) out or sitting on your hands so they don’t move and slap someone, people just think you’re “crazy.”

But you’ll believe it of yourself as well. You’ll be standing in your bathroom at three in the morning, scrubbing your pocket change because you’ve been awake for hours wondering if it could contaminate your clothes and make you a danger to the people around you, and you’ll be unable to stop, but you’ll know that what you’re doing is crazy.

OCD is “ego dystonic,” which means “out of sync with your ideal self” or “making you look and feel like an idiot.” People with personality disorders typically think they’re always in the right, and people with psychosis often don’t realize that their delusions are coming from their heads. But one of the defining characteristics of OCD is knowing that your thoughts are bizarre and your rituals don’t make sense.

Additionally, people who have OCD don’t even get any joy out of their compulsions. Relief? Definitely, but it’s temporary, like scratching a mosquito bite. You don’t want to count every pole and sign you pass, you have to.

There are people who are ‘perfectionist control freaks’ and love every meticulously planned minute of it. But they have a different diagnosis: obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. OCPD involves being neat and exacting (is that even a word??) to the point of disrupting one’s life and being really annoying to everyone else; it’s all of the OCD stereotypes with none of the anxiety or shame.

*It’s Rarely Just OCD

The day I was diagnosed with OCD was one of the best days of my life. Finally, I knew what was wrong with me, I wasn’t crazy, and I could get it treated. But then came the depression, dissociations, psychosis, trichotillomania and dermatillomania, anxiety, PTSD diagnosis…”oh, yeah. You have all those things too. Sorry about that.”

Panic attacks, Tourette syndrome, hypochondria, body dysmorphic disorder, trichotillomania, dermatillomania, and eating disorders are all OCD spectrum disorders. They’re diagnosed on their own but also like to hang around in the background while OCD tricks your mind. They’re like its creepy cousins.

OCD also often coexists with depression. This is partly because of chemicals and genetics, and also because constant obsessing, isolation, or exhaustion from ritualizing can be extremely depressing. Studies show that having OCD from an early age tends to make you more susceptible to depression because it wears on you so much. You’re also at higher risk of suicide.

The good news is that OCD and its tag-along disorders are treatable. There are all kinds of medications and therapies that can help alleviate symptoms. And since the spectrum disorders are linked, one treatment can sometimes cover all symptoms. OCD is not something that can be cured, but it can be controlled.

Im not going to lie…my OCD has not responded to many medications. There was one experimental medication that did work but seems to be not working for the last little while. At first this made me feel like I was back to where I started just less than a year ago.

Thankfully, a lot of stinkin’ hard work has moved me forward in my recovery! I keep hearing from my supports that they are noticing that I’m so much better than I was then. I still have a very far way to go but a few steps are behind me now.

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The face of OCD? I look calm in this picture but I was actually struggling with millions of intrusive thoughts and likely counting in an effort to “neutralize” the thoughts. OCD doesn’t have “a face.” 

*You have a demand for certainty

You think you should know for sure whether you will get violent, loose control, or are contaminated.

What if i didn’t unplug my hair dryer and it catches fire? Then the house would catch on fire, burn down to the ground, and it would all be my fault. What if there are germs on the door handle and I touched it? Then my entire family would get extremely ill and die. What if I lost control and acted on one of my horrible thoughts? Then I would stab somebody and they would die a horrendous death just because I didn’t take the proper precautions.

What if, what if, what if….?

The compulsions offer relief from the uncertainty. OCD sufferers are desperate to feel certain so of course they try to do anything and everything that offers relief even if it takes them hours upon hours to reach that “safe” or “just right” feeling. Then Nothing short of perfection is enough to ease the raging anxiety in the sufferers mind.

Dear non-sufferers,

Do you still think it’s funny, cute or quirky to have OCD?

Are you still going to label yourself “so OCD” when referring to your neat, tidy, and clean preferences or your choice to double check that you have your car keys?

May I ask that you please, please, reconsider that choice of words?

It can be hurtful by making us feel like you are disregarding an OCD sufferers debilitating and incapacitating symptoms.

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

A Moment In My Mind

I was asking myself “what’s wrong with me?” Why do I always have such awful thoughts? Then, in that moment, my brain chatter went completely quiet, like somebody pushed the mute button. What is this….silence? Total silence. At first I was shocked to find myself in a quiet mind and then I was immediately captivated by this unusual happenstance.

It was a rare, short but beautiful, moment because the internal dialogue that anxiety creates is unique to anxiety sufferers and it never ends. We are always worrying about something, anything, and everything. This is why I wanted to create a brief window into my life, giving people an idea of what its like to live with anxiety.

Then, the next moment, it was gone. All the brain chatter came rushing back.

What if I get sick? What if I die? What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t get accepted? What if I fail? What if I hurt someone? What if I mess up? What will they think of me? What’s going to happen if I go? I’m hopeless. I spend too much time thinking about my thoughts. I could slice that persons face.

Suddenly, my brain shoots into overdrive. Whats wrong with me? Who thinks thoughts like that? Why do I have these thoughts? Maybe I’m a murderer. I should go to hell or maybe I should die. 

What if I die now that I’ve thought that? ok. ok. ok. We’ve got a problem! *Heart starts racing* I’ve got to get help! I need to text my mom. So, I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. I search for my moms number but all I can see is pixels, even though I can see clearly in my mind where my moms name is, my eyes just can’t focus on the task at hand. I’m still to worried that I’m going to die.

I could stab that person walking by.

WHAT?!?! Summer!! How could you ever think something so awful?! I must be the worst person on the planet! No one else would ever think something like that. 

The Dr. said lots of people have these thoughts occasionally…but that can’t be true. Nobody thinks like that. I must be a psycho-murderer at heart. 

I could punch that person.

WHAT?!?! NO!! 

I NEED TO GET RID OF THESE THOUGHTS!!

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Still there…

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You have now survived just 10 seconds in my brain. For anxiety sufferers this continues for hours and hours on end.

Although my mind is a crazy place at times, I find comfort knowing I don’t need to battle alone. 

“Moses answered the people, “Stand firm and you will see the the deliverance the Lord will bring you today….The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14) 

I feel as though I fight anxiety every moment of my life but what a comfort to know that God’s got it all under control, I need only be still. The people were despairing but Moses encouraged them to watch the wonderful way the Lord would rescue them. Moses had a positive attitude! When it looked as if they were trapped, Moses called upon God to intervene. WE may not be chased by an army but we may still feel trapped by anxiety. Instead of giving in to despair when all these thoughts are rushing through our mind we need to only “stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will bring…The Lord will fight for you you need only be still.”  

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