Name Your Addiction

+ JMJ +

What’s the most addictive substance on earth? Yeah you know. If not before, you know now because of the feature image.

I didn’t know how addictive sugar was until I fasted from it to overcome a habitual sin. I felt like I was dying. Yes. Sugar has withdrawal effects. It effected my clarity of thinking and how I felt physically…

But. My reason here is not to give a post on the crazy amount of people who are sugar addicts. I’m wanting to speak to the invisible addictions in our lives.

Like…

TV shows. Video/computer games. Smart phone. Social media.

There are more… but I’m choosing these, as I’ve been the victim.

TV Shows

spidermancartoon

When I was a kid, I had a friend invite me over to pray the rosary (Christine H. B.). I refused, because Spiderman was on then… It opened my eyes, because that wasn’t the first time I turned someone down due to the TV. (I was probably… 11/12) I realized that I was placing the importance of a cartoon over a friend–and of course the Lord.

Video/Computer Games

Sims_Social_LogoY’all remember when Sims came out? Yeah; I do. Oh boy! I played it so much it infiltrated reality. I went to a party and was like this is getting droll. They need music. They need more food. They need… It was like I saw the meters over everyone’s heads and the tips scrolling in front of me. When I left, I was like alright… I’d rather live in reality and be with people–real people; not simulations of people. I canned the game.

Smart Phone

Yeah… I get lost in my phone. So much so, I am checked out when it comes to my Liturgy of the Hours, even though I have to make my Mary Poppins bag (my purse) heavier.* Is it because I like being old school? I do, but that is not it. It’s because when I open my phone there’s a million other things to do on it. On top of that, it’ll push me to make sure I know there are a million other things to do on it…

What happened to putting the phone in your purse when you go out to eat with your friend? Wait. What? I need to take a picture of the food I’m eating and a selfie with my friend!

What did we do before cell phones? Uh, we survived. If you go out and forget your phone, I bet people are not going to automatically think you up and died… well with my response rate, I know some people think I die. I have read many, “Are you alive?” texts.

I took a video on my phone of a friend’s album release party… part of it I’m glad, but at the same time I missed the experience of “being” and listening. It was in May. I have watched the videos once. Yeah. It wasn’t worth it. I wasn’t focused. Plus, if I really want to see it again, I can pest them to give me access to their professional video sometime, which I think will knock my tremored-iPhone video out of the park. My pictures with His Own would have been extremely satisfactory negating the videos.

Social Media

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If we talk social media, there’s no argument that it is addictive. People have the whole compare and contrast issue. Me… It is a time drain. I mean y’all know all I really post is stuff about my homeboy Jesus and the marvelous models of how to live the Christian life, the saints. Sure, but the time I’ve wasted finding out what my name means in a non-existent language, what JTT look like now, what was the most wanted toy the year I was born…

Are those articles bad? No. But… Everything needs to be done in moderation. There is a lot of time that these consume my life.

Well, It’s Not Alcohol or Drugs…

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No; but we are all asked to keep everything in moderation.

Are you A2J?

I get asked this every time I see my friend, Rocky. Are YOU? It stands for “Addicted to Jesus”. I get asked, “Are you A2J? Every day? All the way?” Yeah. haha. I am. I don’t mind being a Jesus freak. People think I’m crazy, but I’m high on the Holy Ghost. My side effects of being addicted to Jesus are joy, kindness, compassion, smiles, hugs, encouragement, support, generosity…

Still, with every addiction there is withdrawal effects. Don’t withdrawal from Jesus. The symptoms are loneliness, despair, despondency, hopelessness, darkness, hurt, restlessness…

Be A2J. All the way. Every day.

+ Pax

Kristen Elizabeth Thérèse von Clef, OFS, A2J

*my purse weighs enough to need a seatbelt… (passenger seatbelt light goes off)

One Man Can Change the World

+ JMJ +

Yeah; we all look at the title and go, “Yeah. Yeah. We know.” But do we really?

The gentleman circled above is my Godfather. If not for him, I would guarantee none of you reading this would know me.* Why? Because, 27 years ago “Uncle” Bob approached my dad asking if he would be interested in opening a medical practice here in the Greater Knoxville Area.

Come on! Bug your eyes out.

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I looked through my photos on facebook… I would have known no one in the pictures.* My younger siblings would have never been placed in my family. I would have never met my big “sis” Lenore. I would have never had my “Godsisters”. I just said to myself scrolling through my pictures, “This is crazy.” None of these pictures would have been taken…

There would have been no Saint John Nuemann hangouts with our Lord. Sure I may have found a chapel somewhere else… but would I?

I most likely would not have been a Franciscan… maybe? I became one, because of my best friend in kindergarten’s grandmother…

No Nashville friends…

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This is crazy, right?

One man’s request set a path for my entire life.

See! Every decision you make has a purpose! Every single one. Look at what wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t pick up the phone and ask.

Was it Uncle Bob? No; I know he wouldn’t take the credit for it either.

God used him in a cray cray way.

So, audience out there.

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Look at this. You can help God change the world. Just you. Yeah; you in your little meekness.

Image result for handshakeIt was just a business transaction… nope. It was allowing God to change the world through Uncle Bob.

Just a job, right? Job is just something you work at. I moved to Nashville for a job; yes. However, when I made that decision to go, I knew it wasn’t just for a job. I told people that back in 2014 (a year before I actually moved…God’s timing.). I was going to be interacting with people and they’d be interacting with me. There would be a difference in the new city that wouldn’t be confined within a high-rise downtown office building.

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Image result for butterflyIt goes back to the butterfly effect…God’s effect. One choice we make can do what that one request from my Godfather did.

Are we seeing the magnitude of this?

The Holy Spirit! Wow.

I’m so grateful for the gift of you. Yes; you. You reading this. Even if you are just a random reader, I’m grateful that I’m here in front of my computer in Knoxville, TN typing to you the experiences I’ve had that have placed this words on the screen that you may read. That’s a mouth full. 🙂

Seriously, people.

Every minute in every hour of every day–every person that you meet–has a purpose.

EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

Make those minutes/hours/days/encounters count!

Image result for rolodexThat is a big ripple in the water that is never going to calm.

Now, my Godfather most likely was not just scrolling through his Rolodex trying to go iniminiminimo… My Godfather is a very prayerful man.

So, my closing remarks:

With great power comes great responsibility. HA. (I used to be addicted to that cartoon…no that is not said lightly. I may do a post on addictions.)

But, seriously. That was a question that changed time from 1990 to eternity. I’d say it was for the positive. You see how that all resulted? It was big… yet, not everything we do has good consequences.

So, we must be prayerful. VERY. God will lead you. Follow His commandments. Stay close to His mother. She wants nothing more than for you to have love for Him.

Wow.

One meeting…

…where my Godfather’s daughters were stealing my barbie dolls and I, a very crabby 5yo, didn’t like them, Rebecca and Rachael, at all. I was very disgruntled. I remember peeking around the door frame from the other room sneering at them. Never did I know those beautiful souls would be two of the closest people in my life.

Everything guys. Everything. Everything.

“Life is choices” as Annie always said. Let’s make good ones.

If you hear God calling!! Answer!

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I pray the Lord blesses you and that this holiday season brings you and your family close together.

+ Pax

Kris

*aside from people I’m related to.

Butterfly Effect (Suicide Effect)

+ JMJ +

Below is a story I just told a counselor, who said it is a perspective she’s never heard on this topic. She said people need to hear this…so here I am.

Recently, I had a dear loved one reach out to me for prayers for her daughter, who was just texted by a friend planning on taking her life the upcoming weekend. The daughter, let’s call Faith, was struggling because she knew her friend, lets call June, and schoolmates would be upset with her for getting June into trouble.

I said to my loved one, “Put her on the phone with me right now.”

I told Faith she was doing what is right…

Then I did something I’d never done before… I walked through my life from the time I sat down to suicide when I was about June’s age, 13, until now.

This is for everyone.

If I had taken my life then, my siblings, 1 and 2,  would have only known me from goofy pictures and silly stories. I would have never shown my bro how to do some of the best card tricks. I would have never showed my sister how to play softball. I would have never hit a home run myself. I would have never thrown a runner out at home from center field. I would have never jumped over the fence desperately trying to win a game. I would have never met the majority of the people I know now. I would have never met my nieces. I would have never met my sister-in-law. I would have never been a bridesmaid in 6 weddings nor a maid of honor in one of them. I would have never been a sister/friend to many women on my life. I would have never been a Franciscan. I would have never made Kris’ Chicken Veggie soup. There would have been no Christmas After Parties. My Goddaughters would never had this Godmother. I would have never worked for HGTV/DIY/Food Network/Cooking Channel/GAC/Travel Channel or L’Oreal, Garnier, Essie, Maybelline… Those names don’t matter though. I would have never met the co-workers I have worked with in any of my jobs–that would be the thing I missed. Many people would never have received a “Kristen” hug. Many people would never have received spontaneous gifts in the mail for no reason. Many people would not have received little notes on their windshields saying “Smile. Jesus loves you.” or “I’m praying for you.” Yes; lots of prayers would have been lost. Lots of prayers that were answered. Many people would have never been seen by me, a girl who always sees the good in people. Many people who were lost would have never experienced the love I have to give. They would have never seen the compassion in my eyes and the heartfelt glance of my empathy for what they have been through. People wouldn’t have someone endlessly knocking at their door to get them out of bed, stop isolating themselves, and getting out of depression. Many would not have random voice mails of me singing, “I just called to say I love you. I just called to say how much I care. I just called to say I love you and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.” Many dogs would not have the privilege of meeting me. 😀 Many wouldn’t have received random bouquets of flowers. Many wouldn’t have received my crazy Snapchats. Many wouldn’t have heard my monkey/ape noises. No one would have known I would have had curly hair (changed from straight to curls at 17). Many would not of seen my contagious smile. Many people would not have seen me at Mass everyday. Many would still feel lost. There are people that might not be here right now. This heart would not have reached over 1,000 people. There are people that I know I have made a positive effect in their lives would have never been made. I would have never been Christ’s light in many many others life. I would have never known Faith. Yes; I told her that–that’s when she gasped.

I wasn’t saying this to pump my ego. It’s just the truth and I wanted her to see it. If she had turned me in, I would be sitting her down right now and telling her how grateful I am for having saved my life. It may be a bit before she hears it from June, but even if she doesn’t I know the people in June’s life will be forever grateful.

Yes. Suicide doesn’t have one victim. It goes through the years–throughout all the lives of people that have missed out on the life of the one who chose to take their own. Like the butterfly effect–driven by God.

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this picture would never have been seen

If you are here in the moment seeing no purpose in your life, just talk to your family and friends. They have love for you and would miss you in every day that you are gone.

Friends,

Every minute in every hour of every day–every person that you meet–has a purpose. If not for yesterday, there would be no today. If not for today, there would be no…

HEAVEN!

+ Pax

Kristen von Clef

Stay In Tune

+ JMJ +

I was hypo-manic this week. Mania is bad. It is a state of bipolar disorder. There are symptoms that display showing that I was in mania. I know this because I’ve had it before and I’m in tune with what the symptoms are. I may be irritable (Tuesday I about blasted a friend who had done nothing wrong). I may be reckless (Tuesday I accelerated well above the speed limit). I may be…

There are a lot of symptoms of mania and I’ve had all of them. I’ll address the two aforementioned.

Signs of Change

Irritability – My friend was simply stating something. It wasn’t a question. It wasn’t concerning me. But, I almost took her head off. I didn’t because I got busy with work and didn’t message her back right away. The symptom of being irritable can wear on relationships. I’m not sure of what her reaction would have been if I had said what I was going to say. What I was going to say would have been hurtful and she would have been blind-sided. Thankfully my fingers didn’t have time to punch it out.

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Recklessness – I pulled out onto the main road and sped up to the street light, rounded the corner, accelerated onto the on-ramp and gunned it once I got on, zipping passed cars.

HOWEVER! within less than .25 miles I realized my symptoms-combined the irritability and recklessness. I realized it because I had stopped speeding since I moved to Nashville and promised my Godsister, Becky, I would. I IMMEDIATELY slowed down to the proper limit and called my doctor.

It was 6:30P. I got the answering service. They asked if it was an emergency. I said it was urgent. When she returned my call, I explained my symptoms to my doctor and we worked out some adjusted treatments. So, when I made it home at the correct speed, I took action to tame my mood.

I told my roommate what I was experiencing. She said it sounded like most people. I think about it now. It’s true. Most people can blow up for no reason. Most people speed. However, I don’t blow up at people. I don’t speed anymore. Both of those, for me, are symptoms of symptoms. It’s an unnatural state of irritability. It’s an unnatural state of recklessness. I know this, because I have previously experienced these signs of mania.

Standing Out Amongst The Crowd

I started the conversation with my doctor apologizing for the after-hours call. However, after I had completed it, she said, “Well done.” This wasn’t a big surprise for me. I know I take exceptionally good care of my health-well bipolar health-these hips could use some shrinking. I wasn’t surprised that she complimented me on staying on top of my illness and catching it before it got worse. I’ve done it before on countless occasions. I’ve had bipolar for close to 20 years and have been only very sick twice in that time span. That is impressive for most people. For me, it’s out of dedication and a strong desire to never let myself get like I was during those previous major episodes-the last one being 10 years ago. Whoop 10 years sober from bipolar! Just kidding.

In seriousness, we all have struggles with things. Most of us have some sort of health issues-minimal or major. Mental illness is the intangible illness. You can’t poke someone and say, “Does it hurt here?” or use a stethoscope to listen to someone’s mood. However, there are symptoms-signs-that show something is brewing. What’s kept me healthy (not severely ill-hospital worthy) is being highly in tune with what’s going on in my moods. It’s from experience. I know what they all are. Still, I wouldn’t want anyone to find out only in that way. Not only have I had the experience, I’ve educated myself. So, if you struggle with the intangible and don’t know what may lead to a greater problem, go to the library… who am I kidding? Get on the internet. Search. Search. Search. Educate yourself. Also, if you have a loved one who experiences a mental illness become aware. The more people know about the signs of what is yet to come, the faster you can prevent the terrible from happening.

+ Pax + | KK

Inside Out

+ JMJ +

Although I haven’t seen the movie “Inside Out”, it is on my list to see. Having different emotions cartoon’ified is a pretty awesome idea. If it was executed the way I wanted, I’d get to see the different feelings and how to cope with them, but… this is a cartoon and that’s a little too deep. Cummon—there can’t be another Toy Story out there. 😉

Let’s be Honest…

I’m a dramatic person…sometimes. If you know me very well, then it could be all the time. My kind of drama doesn’t crown me the queen of it, though. Well… some may think it does. Anyways, this past week I wanted to take a course online to help me on my career path, BUT… sigh… it was too expensive and I would have had to gather the money the day I found out about it ($865 or potentially 5k). Nope not going to happen. It frustrated me beyond belief.

That evening, I got into a discussion with my roommate, Jessie. We began to have a discourse as to what I was going to do with my life. A few lines in, I discovered I have a “negative mantra” that I repeat over and over that seems to put me into a downward spiral. I say… “I don’t know.” I say it when I’m feeling bad/sad/generally upset and I want to talk about it, but don’t want to talk about it—don’t want to face my feelings or even see the positivity in a situation. This isn’t all the time. In fact, it’s so sparse that this was the first time Jessie witnessed it and we’ve roomed together for 8 months.

Three Little Words

Why do I say those words, “I don’t know”? I think it’s because I’m compacting all my emotions inside of me-I don’t won’t anyone to be pulling any of my switches in the control panel (“Inside Out”), but that doesn’t mean they don’t. I get sad and despondent—when it gets that bad. Jessie dragged me out of that state and “knocked” some sense in my head. (She made sure I wrote knocked, because it needed some hard hitting.)

insideOutDragging

While having that interventional conversation, she pointed out that this was merely a situation. She suggested that when I enter into that state of despondency, I should distract myself, because if it’s situational, the situation will change. (My cousin, Kathy, echoed that when we were Facebook messaging). I continued saying, “I don’t know,” during our session, but she began throwing things at me at each occurrence of those three little words escaping my mouth. Soon, I began to catch myself even before she launched a Taco Bell sauce packet at me. I bit my lip and laughed.

Fixin’ to

After talking to her, she made me realize I’m not alone with my negative mantra. Other people do it, too. Some people just say, “I can’t.” I say, “I don’t know.”

I’m taking Jessie’s words to heart, at least I’m going to try to do so. It will be something of which I need to remind myself. My life’s been kind of dreary these past eight months. Yet, Jessie’s advice is good and solid. It’s something I need to apply inside so those three little words don’t get outside.

Let me know!

Hey! Let me know what you think! Comment here or if you see this on Facebook, you can do it there. I want some input and if you have questions, ask! I’d be more than happy to answer them.

+ Pax + | KK

He and I

+ JMJ +

As a Catholic, I believe marriage is a Vocation. And I believe I’ve been called to it. Although the struggle has been real in this limbo between childhood/adolescence/20s/30s/when it is going to happen! and walking down the aisle. I would definitely put it into the suffering category for me.

I’ll be transparent. Even though I felt called a couple years ago, the questions have still come in: Is there something wrong with me? Are my standards too high? Am I going to be single forever? I could list many more, but those are some of the big ones–all of which I know I’ve heard before from many other single ladies.

Silence is Golden

This past weekend, I went on a silent retreat to the Abbey of Gethsemani. I had a good deal of time in solitude to pray and talk with God. In 2013, I started keeping a prayer journal and it’s semi-steadily grown in my many conversations with Him. One of the nights that I was there, I opened up my collection of heart-to-hearts with God and began a new letter of love. …well if you could call it that.

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I entered in with a line of desperation. “Lord?” He responded and I continued. “You called me to marriage, but I’m 30 going on 31 and no one has come. How long am I going to wait? I know all is done in your time. However, I don’t… I don’t… I don’t know what to say…” I didn’t know what to say. I felt as if I didn’t have any words to convey my emotions—my yearning for my own beloved. Then He answered.

He Speaks. I Listen.

He said, “In time. In time he will come.” He continued by describing to me the man that had many of the characteristics of the man I desired, but they were the ones most women desire. The height, the eyes, etc. Of course there were some that were personalized for me, “He [would give] you better hugs than anyone in your life.” Oh, how He knows me! 🙂 He said he could tell me He’d have him for me and that I’d probably be eager to wait if I knew that was a definite. However, He didn’t promise me that.

He told me that He has a man for me, maybe not with those characteristics, but He knows who is best for me. He says, “He’s not perfect. He makes mistakes. He isn’t always kind. He will upset you. He will try to take care of you, but even then, there are times he will fall short. He forgets to take out the trash. He leaves the toilet seat up on accident. He leaves the milk out on the counter. He doesn’t always want to cuddle. But. He loves you. He wants what’s best for you. He mirrors My love for you-in that cracked mirror that is his. I know you’d be content with [someone without the aforementioned characteristics]. I know you know these are superficial. My point is this: That I have someone that is great. […] A man that will be there to help you grow in My will. He could be 6′, but just know he’s not perfect in the world’s eyes, still, he’s perfect for you. Are you willing to wait?”

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At first my response was, “I think so.” But shortly after His message to me, I realized something. If I know I’m called to marriage, which I do, I’m also called to trust. He told me that right now He calls me to patience. (I’m like oh boy! I’m on the struggle bus where patience is concerned.) In that patience I need to trust Him, because it’s true—He knows what’s best. He knows who’s best. He know when’s best.

In His Time

This is almost the equivalent to a cuss word when it comes out of people’s mouths. I know I’m not the only one that’s heard it a kagillion times. The issue with me, and I assume every other recipient of that comment, is that the answer is vague. I don’t know when that will be. However, when I talk to God and He tells me it will come in time, it digests a little better.

I’m hoping that, after this time in contemplation over my conversation with God regarding the big “I do”, I become more content with the waiting process. I know it’s going to be hard, because patience and I aren’t the best of friends. Still, He and I will walk hand in hand, until I’m joined with my own beloved.

+ Pax + | KK

To Be is to Love

+ JMJ +

Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s death. What always comes to mind around this time of year are the memories of her life, how I was included and how I was impacted. Another thing that comes to mind every year, are the days leading up to her passing.

Anyone can understand that the loss of a loved one is the hardest part of life—even if they haven’t lost someone themselves. However, no one, whether they have or not, can ever quite find the words to console those that are mourning.

Friend Amongst Strangers

As a 9th grade homeschool student, I went to a weekly Christian co-op to take a Spanish class. This took place the semester before my grandmother’s passing and was the first that I attended. There were a lot of new faces and being a new kid in any school is a little nerve-racking. However, one of the new faces was a girl named, Paula. She had a very peaceful aura and was the first to reach out to me. We saw each other weekly from September to mid-December as we learned our newly discovered language. Towards the end of the semester we began to frequently talk to each other on the phone—for hours. 😛

At the beginning of the new year, my grandmother’s health began to fail. During this time, I was abandoned by my best friend due to the fact they found it too hard to be around someone in that state in life. This was very hard, as I’m sure you can imagine. My mother hurt for me not having someone there to support me.

The conversations with Paula began to become more frequent as I had no one else to whom I could turn. As my grandmother’s health continued to grow worse and my family knew she was close to the end, Paula discerned that she could be a great deal of help to me. She asked her mother if she could come stay with me. And it was then that I discovered the power of “being”.

The Art of a “Being” Human

I’m going to jump ahead a little bit. I’m not exactly sure the day, month, year, but my mom discovered this thing called “Affirmation Therapy.” “…it is a way of “being” with a person as opposed to “doing” something to or for her. Affirmation therapy can be formally described as a way of being affectively present to another human person in a therapeutic relationship in which the therapist reveals to the client his or her intrinsic goodness and worth. Affirmation is a profound way of being with someone that should not be mistaken for a set of simplistic techniques such as giving a pat on the back or a superficial compliment.” When we learned this and we reveled in the gloriousness of it, we looked back on the person who did it best—even though they didn’t know they were doing it.

They were Paula.

tobeittolove_paula

When my grandmother lay dying in her bed, I sat on the couch beside her. I sat with Paula. She didn’t do anything. She didn’t talk to me. Most people would look at this as say, “Well, yeah. Of course she didn’t have anything to say, she was a 16 year old. What kind of sage advice would she have?” As I said before, most people don’t know what to say—no matter what their age is. But my point here is: she didn’t have to. She didn’t have to say a word. And she was more than comfortable with not having that ability. She had something greater to give. Presence. She was “being” with me. She was letting me feel my emotions. She wasn’t trying to tell me words to “fix” me. It’s almost unexplainable. I just leaned on her and cried.  We did sing worship music and prayed with my grandmother. But for the most part, I just sat there. She just sat there. It was enough.

To Be or Not To Be

This world is going going going. No one sits with people anymore without “doing”. It’s so hard to “be” in this constant state of motion. To live the affirmed life “means learning to “be present to everything in creation” and learning how to live in a more quiet and unhurried manner.” Paula showed me, as part of God’s creation, that I was worth “being” present with. She was quiet. She was unhurried. She was content with not having words to speak. She was exactly what I needed.

We all have trials in our lives with which we need people there to support us. Some of those trials cannot be consoled with words. This power. This power of “being”. Of being allowed to feel those emotions that come on so strongly. Of being able to not be shut down for feeling sad. Of being able to be present with someone without them feeling as if they need to “fix” you. Harness it, my friends. Wield this power. Those you love will be forever grateful you did.

+ Pax + | KK

“You don’t know what I suffer!”

+JMJ+

Oh, how I love the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. Alison Steadman gives an unprecedented performance of Mrs. Bennet-quite the drama queen herself.

This start to “To Suffer For Souls” is just an opening line into the trials I’ve encountered and will continue to encounter as life is just life. It’s no surprise that I’ve been through struggles, because, you know as well as I, we’re human and that’s what happens as long as we’re breathing. (maybe even more so after we stop if we don’t make proper choices!) But that being said, that’s not the end to that statement.

What do I suffer?

My response to that would be another question, “Why do I suffer?” I do, because “I longed to suffer for souls as Christ had done, so that some day they might be with Him forever.” (The Little Flower | THE STORY OF SAINT THERESE OF THE CHILD JESUS – Mary Fabyan Windeatt) That line I found highlighted in my book I read at age 10. I found it when I was 18ish (don’t remember my exact age) as I was preparing for a talk  at a women’s retreat on “Conquering Suffering through Love”.

As I prepared for that retreat, I prayed of course, but also reflected on all my past before the suffering started. It was reflecting back quite a bit, because the struggles began at age 11/12. It was true I did long to suffer. Why? Because I knew that suffering does not have to go without merit. I was a child-a child so madly in love with Jesus. I delved into the lives of the saints and there was something that they all had in common, they suffered. Life’s not easy. And they didn’t try to take an easy way out. They put on their cross and listened to Christ as He said, “Come follow Me.”

Okay. So, WHAT do I suffer?

The year or so after I told the Lord I longed to suffer, I started into an uncomfortable state-the state I found out years later was depression. This was not what I expected. I thought I would get tuberculous or cancer or something-something I was a little bit more familiar with as an illness-(yes, I know that’s crazy to be okay with that) but the depression led me to the darkest of the darkest.  At night, I cried myself to sleep for months on end-hiding it from my family as they were taking care of my ailing grandmother and little toddlers. This wasn’t a simple boo hoo-tears rolling down your cheek. This was a “get on the floor in my tiny closet, shut the door, curl up into the tightest possible position, and shake violently while remaining silent” kind of crying. I spent those nights racking my brain trying to think of what could have possibly gone wrong? What did someone do? Why was I hurting so badly? I just couldn’t understand.

Many other symptoms unraveled my life and then by the age of 16 it happened. I had what’s called a manic episode. I won’t go into the details of that now, but it was awful. I lost touch with reality. And I lost touch with all my friends-well most of them. The mania seems fun at the beginning. You feel euphoric, but if not tended to, it spirals out of control.

Soon after the episode began, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I had it stamped to my forehead for a little while, but once I got stabilized on my medicine, I peeled off the stamp and stuck it in my pocket-only taking it out for select people to see.

I’m writing now because of the reactions of those select people who saw. Those people had hurts, too. They had struggles. And some of them even had Bipolar Disorder. It’s a medical illness many people still misunderstand. From my knowledge of “Silver Linings Playbook”, it’s not the most accurate portrayal of the illness-at least not how I act. Through the love of my caregivers, I’ve learned to take care of myself and jump on top of my health whenever the symptoms start to arise. These tips and tricks are something I’m willing to share. I’m here reaching out with a helping hand, but I can’t help without the Hand that’s held mine. This blog with evolve I’m sure, but to start out it will be on what I suffer, why I suffer, how I deal with it and how I embrace it.

+ Pax + | KK