Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The good things

So, my last post was hard to write. Probably hard to read. 

Here's something not so serious. 

Catch-up for the last 4 months! In reverse order. 
1 - Allegiant 

Finally!! Great day, what a ride that was. 

I had so many feels the whole time. And of course, at the end. I sobbed and leaked tears all over the pages of my precious book. (And lets be honest, probably some snot, too). 

It was not at all what I expected, but I do accept it. Veronica is my homegirl and Divergent will always be the book that inspired me to write a novel. And my favorite book for a long time. I don't want to rule out the possibility of something overpassing it, but it sure would take one helluva book to do that. 

My copy, right before I started reading. Just noticed the blue in the wave totally matches my sheets. :)

You know how you just grab whatever is nearby for a bookmark sometimes? My cute little brown bear became a bookmark once. I'm so weird. You can also see my heating pad - the blue thing - a necessary accessory for any RA reader. 

2 - Pumpkins with Malorie and Allie

After learning that Mal is having another little girl and that she is, praise God, perfectly healthy, we made a stop at a pumpkin patch. We didn't get nearly as many pictures this year as last, but it's okay. Allie carried around as many mini pumpkins as her little 3 year old arms could carry, that little adorable babe! I snapped this picture right before she stood up from smelling the flowers...

What a stinkin' cutie. And she still has two littles in her arm. 

We got one big pumpkin and one small pumpkin just for Allie. It was so hard to pick one because they all had scratches and parts that looked like it was about to mold away. So, we got the best we could of each. Then we went home and painted them. I learned I much prefer painting pumpkins to carving them. Carving with RA hands is like the hardest thing in the world. I also learned (well, relearned cause I've known it for a long time) that I have paint anxiety. Luckily we started to mixing colors and that made it okay to mess up. :)

The pumpkin we all painted together. Mal did the wave, I did the dark blue behind it and we all three did the color mixing on the rest of it. But mostly Allie. She also did the purple on the stem. 

3 - BYU Football game at Reliant Stadium

BYU came and played University of Houston. Brother came down and Dad, brother, Sarah, my friend Justine, and I went to the game. It was intense!! But in the last 2 minutes, we won! 

Sarah and I 

Justine and I after the game ended. The end was just so intense. Please note the man behind us. What is he so impassioned about?!

Yes, I totally read a bit when I got too overstimulated by the noise and all the people. Introvert, much?

4 - Doctor Who

I mentioned in my last post that I have become a Whovian. I started the second week of August and finished the modern seasons by the middle of September. Sarah, Mom, Becca, and I have all fallen in love with it. My niece Andie has some too, but she hasn't been able to watch as much as us cause of school and bedtimes and such. Becca has been behind us because of working nights so any time I go home, we pick up wherever she is and watch. Recently we watched the beginning of season 6 with the Silence and I decided we needed to play along. 

Wait, why do I have these marks on my arm? I can't remember... 

5 - Professor River Socks

Andie's friend's cat had kittens and she got one. Her name was originally just Socks when we got her, but with my strong encouragement, Andie and Becca decided to name her Professor River Socks. Any combination of those names gets used regularly. We got her at 7 weeks when she was so, so tiny. And now, she is something like 13 and seems so incredibly huge. She is also incredibly feisty and bitey and scratchy. I have scars. Her nickname is Lilith because she can be a demon kitty. I look forward to when she can get fixed so she will hopefully calm down a bit. But she is adorable and has made me firm in my decision to get a cat as soon as possible. But it will be a rescue kitty that has already been fixed because I just can't handle the energy and biteyness.

There's my bear again, her name is B. But instead of a bookmark, she is being brutally attacked by an adorable kitten.

She loves attacking my little stuffed things. That is B again and my hedgehog named John Watson. (Sarah has an otter named Sherlock). River also likes to attack my shoe, hence it being in the middle of the room. Crazy thing.

Sarah and I with River one of the few times she was calm enough to stay still. She slept on Sarah for about 10 minutes, then on me for about 5 and then she went back to attacking things. 

6 - The Mortal Instruments

Becca, Sarah, and I went to see City of Bones. I don't think it was the opening night, but we dressed up as Shadowhunters anyway. Complete with black clothes and rune tattoos (temporary, unfortunately). Such a good movie. Obviously, the book is better, but it was so fun to see these characters we love on the big screen. Though there were some plot points changed that I was bummed about, the characters were perfect for me. I originally hated Jamie Campbell Bower for Jace, but it didn't take me long to be won over. And Kevin Zegers as Alec, Aiden Turner as Luke, and especially Robert Sheehan as Simon - PERFECTION. 

I somehow don't have a picture of all 3 of us - probably on one of their phones. I had three runes and it definitely did not help with my desire to get tattoos. 

7 - Floating Lantern Celebration of Elizabeth Grace

August 20, 2012 was one of the worst days of my life, with many more days of equal pain to follow. A baby girl was taken from the earth and it was so hard, so hard to see my loved ones in pain. But God was there and has been there to help heal the pain as much as possible for all who loved that girl and her parents. We went to the beach on her first birthday to release lanterns in her beautiful memory. And God was there again. (Even when a cop came and told us we had to leave because apparently fire is illegal on the beach). :)

I love you, Beth. I can't wait to hold you one day. 

These things are seriously hard to light when it's windy. Recommendation: don't use them at the beach where it is perpetually windy. 

Three of the lanterns in the sky. Beautiful.

The moonlight on the ocean was breathtaking. Such a peaceful, beautiful night to remember a beautiful, precious, loved-beyond-measure, little girl. 

8 - Finding old family pictures

My amazing Grandma found some old family pictures and brought them to the cabin to show us. I took pictures of them on my phone. It was crazy to look back at them and see our family so long ago. 

I am well-known in my family to often rave about how adorable I was a baby and young kid. Seriously, I was adorable. I can't handle it sometimes. I want to pinch my little cheeks! 

Gosh, I still love swinging so much. Though, I could never swing on my knees like again ever again. 

My 2 great-Grandmas from my Dad's side. I'm on the left with my legs and arms in my shirt. The two other kids are my cousins Kaley and Lee. This summer, Kaley was named as the 1st Runner up in the Mrs. America Pagent. She is soon going to Hong Kong (I think), to compete is Mrs. World. CRAZY! She was also my favorite cousin growing up. 

All the cousins with the Great Grands. Each family is in their own color. I still have my legs and arms in my shirt. I must have been cold. Or grumpy. 

My Family! Michael, Becca, Mom, me, Dad, Sarah, Great Grandma L, Great Grandma R. We were so cute, I can't even handle it!!

Fast forward 20 something years. Me and Grandma. Yes, I am wearing my Iron Man shirt. We were working on a Thomas Kinkade puzzle. I love doing puzzles with Grandma so much. She is doing so well and is so beautiful. I am so grateful for her!!

9 - Breakfast with McKenzie

I got to meet up with Kenzie, my best friend from my mission. Her friendship toward me has been so healing over the years. No matter what I am feeling, I know I can go to her and she will drop what she's doing and help in any way she can. She listens better than almost anyone and shows pure love to me, no matter how little I sometimes deserve it. We hardly get to see each other (like, once a year), and don't talk much, but just knowing she is there makes me feel safe. I am so grateful for her. She just started her Master's program in Young Adult Fiction (I think - sorry if I got that wrong, Kenz!), and I am so proud of her and happy for her. Love you tons, my friend!

10 - Despicable Me 2 with Allie

Sarah, Mal, and I took Allie to see Despicable Me 2. It was my first time to go to the movies with Allie. Her mom and I went to sooo many movies in high school. It's pretty much the only thing to do in our home town. We once counted how many movies we'd seen together, at theaters and at home. It was around 150 in a year and a half. So, movies are a rich tradition with us. So fun to be with her and her daughter for one! And the movie was hilarious!!

It is so fun watching her get immersed in stories. I'm a little obsessed with this niece-child of mine. 

Well, that's all I currently have photo evidence for, so I'll leave my catch up there. No matter how hard things get, I do know I have people I can rely on. People who love me, no matter how difficult I am. People who know me and know what I need, or at least are willing to help me figure out what I need. I am so grateful for them. By no means did I cover everyone who helps me get through hard times, this is just what was on my phone tonight. :) 

So, to all of you who help me, 

who reach out to let me know you are thinking of me, 

who let me vent, 

who invite and include me in activities even if I'm in a bad mood and can't be easy to be around, 

who take my mind off things, 

who fangirl with me (even if just through Pinterest - you know who you are), 

who make me feel that my life can still mean something despite how difficult this disease is, 

who reach out to me in your struggles, even though I have my own, so we can feel the grace that comes from helping each other,

who included me in a business venture out of love despite signs that I might not be the best person to trust with it, 

who smile at me, 

who listen to me try to figure out the wanderings of my sick, sad mind,

who text me even when I don't answer, 

who love me for me when I can't see anything worth loving...

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. 

Thank you for joining me on this journey, for being my fellow traveller in this messy life. 

I couldn't do it without you. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oh hi, remember me?

Hi, my name is Rachel.

Hi, Rachel.

It's been 4 months since my last post. What is that about?

Well, it's about general life suckage and not wanting to bring others down. And depression keeping my fingers from writing the words my brain can't stop thinking. 

Did I just come out about my depression? Yes, I think I did. 

I've had a horrible summer. And yes, it is still summer in Southeast Texas, despite being a month into technical Fall. Someday I will move to a climate that matches my personality better. Like Seattle. Or England. 

Please, please, please, God, let that happen someday. The constant heat, sunlight, and humidity saps away my identity. I need clouds and cool weather, scarves and jackets, boots and hats. Amen.

I'm not going to go into all of why I'm struggling right now. That would take way more than anyone would want to read in one post. But, I wanted to put it out there that I am fighting depression right now and it sucks. 

I said I didn't want to bring others down by talking about it. As a therapist, I know that talking about things is good. As a writer, I know that writing my experience can be healing. As a blog reader, I know how freeing it can be to read my own feelings in someone else's words. I know that depression shouldn't be a block for writing and connecting with people. But it is. And here's why it is for me. Or, at least part of why. 
When I was around 7 years old, my family went to a session of family therapy. I remember nothing about it except one question and family conversation that shaped the rest of my life. 

The therapist, for some reason, asked us who was the most mentally stable member of the family. Through a short discussion, it was decided that I, a little 7 year old with horrible bangs and an underbite, was the most stable. 

(As a therapist now, I can not even fathom what on earth that therapist was thinking by asking such a question. Because A, it doesn't matter who is the most stable. And B, that is wayyy too much responsibility to place on anyone, let alone a 7 year old, youngest child who wants nothing more than to be the best daughter and sister possible).

That decision told me for the next 17+ years that I had to be strong. I had to be happy and optimistic and a "peacemaker" and if I was sad, doubtful, hopeless, upset, I needed to hide it for the sake of my entire family. My little 7 year old mind learned that the future of my family rested on me being happy and obedient and faithful (because the therapist was a member of our church, so though I don't remember, I am positive aspects of faith and lifestyle were talked about there as well). I had to be emotionally perfect or I was letting everyone down. 

That was my role in the family. Happy peacemaker. Though I am trying to change it, in a lot of ways, it still is my role. I don't fault my family at all for this (though I do fault the therapist to some extent). This is part of family dynamics that emerge in every family. Roles develop and family systems strive for homeostasis. I know I am not the only happy peacemaker in the world. It truly is not their fault.

But, it was damaging, as almost any static family role is. 

Except for a 4 month period in 7th grade, when I "rebellious," (read: snuck out to a dance, watched an R-rated movie, fought with my parents) I have striven to be the perfect child. And for the most part I was. And that just further ingrained the belief that I needed to be perfect, because in my mind, it was my emotional stability and happiness that kept the family together and helped things go the best they could, despite some sticky situations. 

I learned to force my sadness away. Because when I was sad, I didn't have enough faith, and if I just had more faith the sadness would go away. 

I learned to completely ignore any doubts or questions I had about our beliefs or the way our family worked. 

I learned that if someone else was upset, it was my job to go cheer them up.

I learned that if two of my family members were mad at each other, I was supposed to go explain the other person's side to calm things down. 

Is it any wonder I became a therapist? 

I learned that any emotion that wasn't positive was bad and I had to get over it. Read my scriptures, pray, serve, get a blessing. Those things would solve everything. 

And for a long time, that worked. My "negative" emotions often weren't strong enough that they needed to be heard or felt. So, they quietly faded into the back of my heart. 

Well, it doesn't work anymore. 

I can't ignore my emotions anymore. 

I can't ignore that my body is being ravaged by a systemic, progressive disease. (Rheumatoid Arthritis, or as many patients prefer, Rheumatoid Disease; arthritis is a symptom, not a cause of the disease). One in which something like only 20% of patients have a 20% improvement on harsh medications. (can't find accurate stats now, will do a post with that info in the future). One that is treated with chemotherapy drugs and biologic shots that cost $2000 a month. One that makes me unable to be insured traditionally because no insurance wants to invest that kind of money into one person. One that makes disability a very real possibility for the near future. 

Every major joint in my body is pounding as I write this. Has been all day. 

Scratch that - all summer. 

I can't ignore how utterly hopeless that makes me feel. 

I can't ignore how fiercely angry it makes me feel, either. 
My 2 month break after graduation to recuperate from Grad school has turned into 5 months of hell.  

There have been moments of good (which I am going to be documenting in pictures soon). But the majority of the time I am paralyzed by pain and fear. 

And it sucks. 

I haven't even been reading much because I can't handle being in my head that much. So, I've numbed the pain with compulsive Netflix watching. And bejewelled blitz. 

(Hello Doctor Who! The Doctor has been a HUGE good that has come from this summer. I'm seriously in love with the show. And did you know, today is Matt Smith's 31st birthday? Happy Birthday, Matt!!!!)

I'm supposed to start working again soon. Which I know in some ways will be really good for me. And I do love being a therapist and I look forward to reconnecting with some of my former clients.  

But mostly, I'm afraid of the pain I will be in driving 45 minutes to work and sitting through sessions and doing the marketing necessary to start up a new client base in a new private practice. 

The reality is that I'm scared. I'm scared that I'm not going to be able to do good therapy anymore. I'm scared I won't find enough clients to pay my bills. I'm scared I'll let my own needs get lost, because that is my definite tendency. Despite my love for doing therapy, there is a big part of me that wonders if it's the best thing for me to be doing now. But any other realistic options are almost as scary for different reasons.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post... 

Why I didn't write. And why I'm going to try again.

Life became hard enough that I could no longer just write about things that made me happy, like the books I was reading and the novel I was starting. And since there wasn't anything happy to write, I stopped writing. 

Because I've been taught to be silent about my struggles. 

Unless, of course, I have some beautiful, faith-filled explanation of how I see God's hands in my trials. That was the one exception to being silent. 

Well, honestly, I haven't seen His hand in a long time. 

So I was silent. 

But I know that is not good for me. 

And I've been reading a bunch of blogs that make me want to share my experience. And tonight that desire manifested as a near panic attack of writing need. 

I know I need to rock the boat and disengage from the role I've been forced into my whole life. 

It's not right to expect people to ignore their emotions. I believe in emotions. Deeply, fervently. Even the nasty ones. Maybe even especially the nasty ones. 

And I want to express them. I want to put them out there. For me but also, hopefully, for someone else who will read what I write and learn that their emotions, however hard, are okay. 

So, yes, I am sad, depressed, angry, scared. In pain. 

And I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I don't know how to have full faith through this. 

I don't see how things are going to get better because the fact is my body is getting worse and worse every day. (My most recent blood test, the Vectra test, put my firmly and decidedly in the severe RA range which means I will have lasting joint damage). And that's scary. 

I don't know how God is being glorified in my suffering or even He is or ever will be. Maybe this is just a shitty result of living in a fallen world. 

I don't know. And I hurt. 

But I don't want to be silent anymore. 

And neither should you.