Mental Illness and Jesus


So I’m crazy. 

At least that’s what society says. Of course the stigmas of depression have continued to improve as years pass by and we can see that people all around the world have it, but still, there are lot of people who don’t understand mental illness. Either because they have it and don’t know, or they just don’t have it. Which is awesome. 🙂

But for those of us who do understand and are also Christians, there is this post.

So I have mental illness all around me. As you know (hey frequent readers!) I myself have been diagnosed with depression. I’ve got anxiety, more anxiety, addiction, and ADHD hanging out in other people in my family and friends. And it’s a new learning experience every day.

First thing’s first. Jesus CAN fix anything. He totally can. Prayer works, and you should keep praying, no, matter, what. There have been plenty of times when I have been hopeless for the people around me with mental illness. And by nature of depression, I was pretty hopeless for a long time for myself. But, I have learned to not relent. God wants us to keep knocking on that door until He opens it. He desires healing – he desires peace for us. But, that doesn’t always mean that He’s going to answer in the way that we think He will. He’s going to answer in the way that is most effective for bringing us to Him.

I will tell you, being mentally ill will bring a person to Jesus. There’s not a lot more to do without actually going crazy. Trying to help someone with anxiety, depression, or ADHD will as well. And you know what? I’m thankful for that. Some of us are on meds. I used to think that they weren’t necessary. Jesus humbled me…sometimes that’s the tool he wants to use. Sometimes the meds can’t do it all and there’s some serious soul-digging that has to happen.

But through it all, Jesus is king. He knows that mental illness is just another piece of the fallen world, and the truth remains the truth – He has freedom for us. We may not know how healing will come in earthly terms, but we do know that it will come from Jesus.

Anyway…if you’re ill, or someone you know is, don’t give up. Beg for strength, mercy, healing. Keep your eyes on the goal. You may need to change the plan to get to the goal, but walk in with a shield of love, and see that healing will come, in some way. It will. So rest in that. You’re not at all alone.

Image

…because love wins.

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12 Ways to Maintain a Bad Attitude for Your Whole Life


So, today is one of my best friends’ birthday. His name is Dustin. He and I had the same kind of cancer in the same leg when we were little. I was 7, and he was 11. We did everything together – played, talked, threw up, had major surgery; everything. He lost his leg to the cancer, and a lot of his lung. And so did I. But we also have a lot of photos, and we’re smiling in them. Because our mothers and selves, decided that regardless of what was going on, we were going to be positive and enjoy our lives. Dustin died when I was 12. He was sixteen. Our attitudes are still positive.

In honor of his birthday, I’m going to get on my soapbox and preach about the ways we maintain a bad attitude and waste our lives.

1. Wait for everything to be perfect. 
What does that even mean? Perfect changes every day with the color of your skin, the latest fads, who you meet, what you process from your childhood, and the kind of house you just saw on TV. I will just blow that up for you now – it’s only as perfect as you make  it. Fiercely look for the positive in situations. And it would be wise to get used to life being a mess. Because it always is. Put on your best shoes, get ready to get them muddy, and jump in to see what happens.

2. Quit before you see the ending. Aka, avoid at all costs.
This lines up pretty well with number one. This whole world is full of quitters. When you have cancer, you don’t really get the choice to quit. It decides for you. Life should be like that. Cuz when you’re dying it will be. And I will tell you that walking away when someone needs you, when you’re afraid, or when you feel like you’ve failed is an excellent way to make sure that no one ever needs you, everyone is afraid of you, and to fail yourself, and others. Just stick around even if you don’t know what to do. Life has a way of working itself out if you leave your heart in it and bring your good attitude.

3. Hate yourself.
Most specifically, I mean get up every single morning and look in the mirror. Find every piece of your body and mind that you hate, recite every word that anyone ever said to you about how you looked, and then work to combat them with changing your clothes, combing your hair, and all around aiming to be whatever level of perfect they set for you. THAT IS DUMB. Every single person in this world is busy living up to some standard of someone. All the while, the person who set the standard is trying to live up to someone else’s. IT DOESN’T MATTER. You’re a soul. Just go fly, soul. Haters are always gonna hate. But it’s because they hate themselves. There’s no need for you to hate yourself too. It’s really not so great to fit in with all the people who already hate themselves.

4. Take your aggression out on others. 
In the house in which I grew up, we were allowed to be whatever mood we wanted to be. We were not, however, allowed to hurt other people because of our mood. So if I was mad at something, I didn’t get to redirect that at the safe place – my mom. I mean, I did, for a while, until one day she just looked at me and told me she didn’t like me anymore, no matter how much she loved me. She’s a great mom, and that was a pretty swift wake up call. If my own mother didn’t like me, there is a good chance that no one else would either. And it wasn’t her fault. (She again likes me after I stopped being mean.) People are not punching bags. They are not responsible for your happiness. I mean, if you’re happy, unwaveringly lift people up. Don’t quit. (see above) But for your aggression, find a real punching bag if you need to. And then go punch it until the emotions are taken down enough notches to have a real conversation with someone who will share wisdom with you. But leave your walls with the punching bag and let go of your aggression. Being mad about someone or something doesn’t do a thing to them…but it ruins you and your life. Also, anger isn’t a safe place. It’s a lonely place.

5. Never take ownership for your mistakes. 
This is a perfect way to pretend that you’re perfect. And it’s a perfect way to keep everything locked inside like poison. Every person you hurt will carry that hurt because you have legitimized the mean things you did to them. They’ll think of your bitter words when they look in the mirror in the morning. Being disconnected from your reality is not okay. That’s a great way to continue to be disengaged and distant. Because you know, even though we all pretend we’re perfect on facebook, we’re really not. And no one really likes someone who thinks that they are and can do no wrong. No one likes to get blamed for someone else’s pain all the time either.

6. Always blame everything on everyone else. 
This is a great way to continue to never take ownership for your mistakes. The guy at the grocery store didn’t smile at you. What a loser. So negative. Your mom didn’t call you soon enough on your birthday. Work was challenging because your coworker was mean. Your toe hurts because you hit it on a curb and the city built the structure wrong. We can all pretend that we don’t do that, but oh, we do. And the thing is, you see what you want to see. And you see what you feel. So pay attention. If you’re blaming the whole world for your pain, it’s probably because you’re putting yourself in that painful place all on your own.

7. Never let anyone love you.
We all have bad attitudes because people don’t love us, right? Wrong. We have bad attitudes and that makes us hard to love. How are you in any more trouble than the rest of us? We all have our hard stuff. And just because it’s hard and someone or something hurt you before doesn’t mean everyone is going to be a twit and hurt you again. Or they might. But that’s how life works. It’s better to love and get hurt than to live in the lonely place where you keep yourself. People just want to help. You have to let them. And be prepared – they may not help just how you want them to. But it may be how you need them to.

8. Never listen. 
This is an excellent way to be in a bad mood forever. Never listen to what anyone says. When they’re talking, always be thinking about how dumb what they’re saying is and be waiting for your turn to talk. Because obviously that’s what needs to happen for you to feel better. Wrong. People hate people who don’t listen. And that’s a good way to make sure that you never have anyone to listen to you again. Yeah, you need people to lean on, but you might learn a lot if you hear what they say and apply it to your own life.

9. Always think about yourself. 
You’re walking down the street. What are you thinking about? Yourself? Well, stop it. Just, stop it. Think about anything else. The trees. The water. People who need prayer. Your shoes. Jesus. Anything. I promise that the more you think about yourself, the worse your attitude is going to be. Life comes from helping someone. When things are hard, go help someone else. Call a friend and ask them how they are. Do anything but think about yourself and what you think you’re missing in life.

10. Never be pleased. 
Always let your emotions lead what you say. Never speak out of logic, only emotion. Complain whenever you can. That the food doesn’t taste good enough. That the service isn’t fast enough. That your hair isn’t nice enough. Whatever you can complain about, DO IT. I’m totally kidding. Stop complaining. You won’t feel better doing it. When you’re about to complain, stop. Whatever it is you were going to complain about, find something positive to say about it instead.

11. Don’t be thankful. 
This is an awesome way to be in a bad mood always. Don’t be thankful for stuff. Always focus on what you don’t have and never on what you do. Also kidding. Stop doing that. Focus on the positive. Don’t think that you’ll be ignoring all your sad thoughts and that they’ll build up or something. No. Just fill your mind with good things, and the negative will come to the surface manage-ably. Whatever it is you’re upset about, stop being upset about it and find something in it for which you are thankful.

12. Try to hide from God. 
This is the capstone here. The best way to have a bad attitude forever is to hide from God. Cuz then he can’t change you, and you can wallow until you die. Continue to think that He can’t heal, that he won’t come through, that if you keep your heart locked up you’re safe, or that you’ve done too much bad stuff. Nah, focus on the truth. And see the positive in Christ every day. I promise you, that will set you free. Your joy will turn into happiness, and pretty soon you’re going to be known for being the person that is happy. And all of a sudden everyone will want to be around you. And that will create a positive cycle for you to live in.

But, it has to start with you. No one else makes you happy all the time. But you can make sure you’re much happier with the way you think. You need to do what you need to do inside yourself. Happy day, all!

…because love wins.

40 days to a Radical Life.


So yesterday I got quite a few new followers to my blog. (Ohhhh, heeeeyyyyy all!) One of them is a beautiful lady with a sweet blog herself. Here, don’t just take my word for it – check it out: https://laurabrookekeith.wordpress.com/.

She’s doing this sweet 40 day challenge dealio to be like Jesus. And…I’m gonna follow along with her. And do the things myself, cuz I feel like I should. Maybe you want to join me. I think you totally should.

Yesterday’s was this: TODAY’S DARE: The next 40 days are going to be radical… so today’s dare is simple. In Mark 6:21 Jesus invited His friends to go away with Him to rest. Rest is so important in today’s rushed and hurried world. Today, take comfort in something red, a red blanket, woolen socks… anything that brings you comfort and let it remind you that Jesus wants you to commit to R.E.S.T…. Radically Entrusting your Savior To-supply-all-your-needs.

I’ll let you all know how things go. Jesus loves you all.

…because love wins.

“I suffer with depression.”


“It’s the stigma that makes you hold it in and you hide it, because the stigma around depression in our society is very real. Unfortunately we live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs to sign your cast. But when you say you have depression, they run away. We can’t procrastinate on something this important.”

This, my friend says it all really well. Please watch – understand depression.

Depression is real. It’s not weak.

Depression

…because love wins.

It hurts, you know.


It hurts.

It hurts to hear that my friends are suffering.
It hurts to hear that radiation is burning their skin.
It hurts to hear that they are throwing up.
It hurts to hear that their parents cannot comfort them.
It hurts to hear that they are miles away from their little sisters for weeks.
It hurts to see their hair fall out.
Again.
It hurts to watch their tired eyes.
It hurts to watch them shake in weakness.
It hurts to see them not even be able to do their homework.
It hurts to not even be able to communicate the pain.
It hurts to be here, when they are there.
It hurts to hold their hands as another child dies.
Again.
It hurts to come home and cry.
It hurts to realize that hardly anyone sees this.
It hurts to realize that those who do know, obviously don’t care enough.
It hurts to miss them at Christmas.
It hurts to walk into their empty rooms.
It hurts to have another piece empty in my heart.

Childhood cancer, it hurts much more than you know.

Childhood cancer, it hurts, please know.

…because love wins.

Standing

You’re a survivor and that is amazing.


Each day older I grow, I understand more the reality of what it means to have survived childhood cancer. As a younger person, it was just a part of my life; I hadn’t seen much else, and I was just too busy playing to understand what it means to still be alive today. But now, I marvel at my leg, my hair, and my beating heart. Let me tell you why.

I stood up one morning. I took a step, and my knee gave out beneath me. I never knew that I’d never walk on that leg again. I ate my vegetables, and I slept full nights, and I was even nice to my friends. I never would have expected cancer. I probably would have just called you a liar if you would have told me that was really going to be my life.

But alas, I couldn’t walk. Soon, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t get out of bed. Sometimes, I almost couldn’t breathe. To say that it’s a humbling experience to face mortality is just more of an understatement than I can explain. No one can walk to death with you. It’s you, and Jesus, (which is why you need Him), and death. I met myself in ways that I cannot describe.

I remember laying in bed begging God to make the throwing up end. To bring my friends back to life, and to just make it all be okay. And seriously, I don’t even know how I survived. I looked dead almost every day for a full year.

But then I did. I started to take steps on crutches. I made myself get out of bed. Jesus restored my spirit, and I locked eyes with death, and shook my head, “no.” And I just turned and walked away into the rest of life.

I am 23 now, and I feel like I grasp that death didn’t win, but that it sure could have. My fingers move, I can take a deep breath, and I can kiss my nephew. And it’s very much on purpose that I am alive.

The take-away is this. If you haven’t met death yet, listen to what I say. Right now, you’re a survivor, and that is amazing. Don’t take that for granted.

….because love wins.

An open letter to the world.


Hello citizens of the world,

Today, a friend contacted me and said that she had just checked the news. What did her email say? Just a simple, “:(” What is going on?

I remember my young years growing up in America. I ran across the street freely, I talked to strangers, I could walk to the local pool on my own. At the time, that was how life was. I was thankful we lived in America – I was proud to say the Pledge of Allegiance under God every morning in school.

But clearly something has changed. I remember the first time our school was put on lockdown because someone had carved into the wall that there was a bomb inside of the building. I remember Columbine. And I remember never walking down the hallway to the bathroom at school again without looking where I would be able to hide when a shooter would show up. In my middle school mind, someone coming in with a gun wasn’t an “if,” it was a when.

The headlines today, years later, are worse than ever:

“Man shot by teens – just because.”
“Actor, 29, commits suicide in his Los Angeles apartment.”
“Kids okay after gunfire in Georgia school.”

This used to be the stuff even movie moguls couldn’t come up with. And now it’s my young adult real life. What have we done? What have you done?

The thing is, bad doesn’t just happen. It presents itself as an idea. Maybe it’s in someone’s head who doesn’t ever speak it. Maybe it’s just on an online forum. Or maybe someone really tells someone what they are planning to do, and then it happens anyway. And we’re obviously not noticing soon enough.

Now, I’m not claiming that it’s just your fault that that man was shot while jogging, but I am claiming that it might have been. We’re all connected in this world, and maybe a little less iPhone and a little more real life conversation would let us know when someone is so unwell that these things will happen.

It’s not a debate about guns. Clearly people who want to hurt others can find other ways. But you can find ways to stop it from happening. You are the world, and you are the way we live. It doesn’t just happen.

I see an awful lot of people who could do good, share Jesus, and listen intently to do the right thing for anyone anytime, just not do it. And that? That is not okay. When someone cuts you off in traffic, don’t yell at them. When someone is crossing the road, let them. When your children want to play, don’t be on facebook.

You need to be engaged in the planet on which you live. It’s the little good things that need to come back. They fix it. Drugs will not take you away, alcohol cannot make it better, but telling people about Jesus and treating them like you love them as you love yourself in the grocery store might build the planet we’re trying to achieve in our continuous pursuit of escape.

So, take responsibility for those shootings and that suicide. You. Yes, you. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, seriously evaluate if you can start spending all of your time doing good, kind things. I will tell you; not only can you, but you must. Add patience and understanding to a world. Maybe even having conversations with strangers on a bus. Maybe you saying hi will stop someone from feeling so alone that they must go kill to be noticed.

The downfall of this world is all of us. If we don’t stop it, we let it happen. And it doesn’t improve by just stopping bad. It improves by facing the bad with the good. And seeing that it will win. Please, ask yourself. What more is going to take for you to do something to make this world a better, free, safe, place?

What more is going to take for you to stand up for love and quit sitting and watching the hate win? Please answer, and act. I don’t want to see you be shot because playing Angry Birds on your phone was more important than smiling at someone walking down the sidewalk. You have to save us. And you have to save us now.

Love,
Your Neighbor

PS: Come over and say hi sometime – no need to text.

Cancer is over. I think.


Recently, I was contacted by one of my facebook followers who is facing Osteosarcoma, the same kind of cancer I “beat.” (Not like we get a choice in getting healthier.) She’s writing a book, and asked me to write a poem about finishing treatment. After a year of chemo and then 15 more years, I find that the emotions are still the same as the day I stepped foot out of the hospital from treatment one last time. The cancer is gone, but so are the options if it were ever to come back. So there’s a lot to feel, and learn, and not a lot of conclusions to make. But I learned, and continue to learn, from what cancer taught me about me. Enjoy!

It has been a year.Chemo
Or maybe a hundred.
I look down at my fingers.
How I made it is a wonder.

I can still taste the poison.
That orange death that saved my life.
What does food taste like?
Can I now sleep through the night?

The day I heard “cancer.”
I never thought I’d live.
Some days I felt dead.
Gave more than I could give.

It hurt.
The prodding; poking.
It ached.
Mom and dad’s eyes only looking.

It took my leg.
HallwayIt taught me to love.
Osteosarcoma.
A battle finally done.

I walked into these doors,
so many times.
Now I walk out,
to meet what I left behind.

The cancer is gone.
I’m 8. Maybe 9.
The days were like nights.
The memories just mine.

So what do I do?
No one knows.
No one knows.
The sting; hm, slowly it goes.

I’m not a little girl.Kid in bed
But I’m not grown up.
I’m something new.
I just don’t know what.

Eyes opened to the future.
But living in the day.
It’s the last day of chemo.
“Hello life,” is to say.

My leg is now plastic.
My veins getting strong.
My sister, she smiles.hand holding
But will it stay gone?

Society doesn’t get me,
this little girl who survived.
But I think I know me.
Because I actually didn’t die.

There is a lot to learn.
And I know today I’m free.
For beating the cancer,
taught me to be me.

…because love wins.