Month: March 2018

“…And indeed it was very good.”

After my earlier panic, to ground and orient myself I’ve been meditating on some of the Scriptures that can be read at the Easter Vigil Mass (we are not going to church tonight and will attend the Easter Day Mass rather than the Vigil). One of the passages that can be read at the Vigil is the first chapter of Genesis , that is to say, the very start of the Bible. Fittingly, as we celebrate at Easter our new birth in Christ, sharing His Risen Life, our relationship with God restored by His gift to us, we read in Genesis how we are God’s creation.

However we interpret the creation narrative in Genesis, I think it is very clear that God created for good and created in love. This particularly hit home with me today and chipped away at my constant fear of my own inner badness.

God created light, dark, sky, earth, sea, sun, moon, night and day, every breathing creature, every plant. He created, “and it was so”; he looked “and saw that it was good,”. We are assured ten times “and it was so… and it was good”. Then, to have stewardship of all this good, God created man and woman. You and me. After creating all this good, would He make His stewards bad? Of course not. He created us good. Not only did He create us good but “God created mankind in His image.” He made us in His image and gave to us stewardship of all His wonderful creation, for our joy, for our nourishment, for our good. He looked on us, “and indeed it was very good.”

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. His love never changes or ceases. He created us good, for good. You and I are first and foremost good and loved by God. Loved so much that He created us in His image. Loved so much that however much we mess up, He still desires our good, and calls us back to Him, through His own Son’s suffering, death on the Cross and rising again. God wants the best for us just as He wanted the best for us from the first moment of creation, from the instant He conceived us in His loving heart and brought us into being to be loved by Him, to love Him, and to love one another as He loves us.

And indeed, it is very good.

Happy Easter.

Ginny xxx

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Panic about planning

My partner and I had to go into town today to buy some items for Easter and for volunteer work next week; also to meet a friend for coffee. There were 5 items on the list, to be bought in a couple of different shops.

Why did I go into a full panic attack?!

The task seemed completely insurmountable, more and more insurmountable as the minutes passed; and the more insurmountable it seemed, the angrier I got with myself. If it hadn’t been for my partner I would not have left the house. I’d have hidden away under my blanket at home. Yes, like a three year old.

I could not make any decision on where to go. Nowhere would have everything. There was a potential problem with every potential store we could go to. There was a reason not to go to this or that place, but also to go to this or that same place. I was exhausted. I wanted sleep. But I had to get everything on the list or I’d let people down at work. If I did go, what order should I go to different shops? All the possibilities made a desperate screaming noise in my head and it was impossible to choose and any choice felt disastrous.

Why? Why am I so unable to cope with the simplest choice and task? Decisions are always harder than I think they should be but not usually this bad.

There seemed to be too many combinations of possible outcomes to make a choice but I don’t know why this was so paralysing. Why there was so much noise and crushing pressure in my head. My reaction to not being able to choose was very much a child’s – want to stop, want to hide and so on. Had I dissociated and my little-child-self was in the fore and unable to cope with the decision-making? Or is my adult self so overwhelmed I can’t go through a normal choice process? Or both….

My partner made the choice in the end. We made it out. I had two other near panic attacks when things went wrong while we were out. We were glad to see our friend. I’m home now, utterly wiped out, pain off the scale. On days like this I’m astounded my partner wants to be with me.

Ginny xxx

For you alone and all of you

Today is Good Friday. Today at 3pm we commemorate Our Lord Jesus’ passion and death for us on the cross.

It is more than a commemoration. As we pray, as we venerate the cross, as we approach the altar and receive Jesus, Body and Blood given for us, we take part in the sacrifice He makes for us and the redemption that flows from His Sacred Heart.

On a Good Friday several years ago, the Priest gave the briefest and possibly most powerful sermon I have ever heard. After the reading of the narrative of Christ’s Passion he simply said: Jesus did this for you, and He would have done it for only you. That very simple amazing truth about the cross lifted me right into the arms of Our Lord.

At the Cross, if I only stop there and look at my Jesus, there is no hiding and no pride. None of my sin, need, failure, weakness, pain, despair, is bigger than what He did on the Cross. And none of my pain, longing or grief is too small or stupid for Jesus to care about either, even the things I try to hide from everyone because I feel they are so childish or bad. Jesus did this for me and for all of me.

It is really hard for me to comprehend a love that wants all of me. So often I set myself apart, sure that this love cannot be for me really because I am too bad inside, sure of an angry God and that I deserve punishment. As a child my abusers convinced me utterly of my evil, the awful things I did and would do and the awful intentions and desires that were inside me. They set up a world where I believed they were the only ones who knew the terrible person I really was and the only ones who could stop the terrible consequences if I did what they demanded. They proclaimed their love for me but looking back I don’t know how I understood this love or how the supposed love was shown. In a way might it have been simpler if they just outright hated me?!

The understanding of me and of love that this left me with is so far from the love of God. He created us in His image. When we messed up, He sent His Son Jesus, right into our dark and confused world, drawing us back to follow Him to God the Father. He didn’t demand our perfection. Rather the opposite. He takes on all our imperfection, suffers and dies for us, and rises again, so that weak as we are we can do the same and follow Him to His Father’s house. The fact Jesus wants me, only me, all of me, is something it will take me a long long time to truly understand. The Cross is a good place to start and ask Jesus for the grace for His truth to replace the lies and confusion in my heart, so that I can lay down all of me and let Him love me, even though for all the years I have so wanted to believe, I don’t know yet what this kind of love is.

My prayer for you today is that Jesus show you tenderly how He loves all of you.

Ginny xxx

With thanks:

Image 1 from Mount Carmel Edmonton

Image 2 from Slideshare.net

Image 3 with thanks to Bertha Chelemu from Sermon quotes.com

Gesthemane

Today is Holy Thursday, or Mandy Thursday. Today we remember – and share in – Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist, the Last Supper where He gave His Body and His Blood for us, so that we should never be apart from Him again. We also recall Jesus’ prayer and suffering that night in the garden of Gesthemane. We wait and watch in prayer.

I was not well enough physically or mentally to go to Mass tonight and watching at the altar. I have been trying to pray, read, listen at home. I wanted to find some words to say, some hopeful answer or some words to write here…. and I can’t. I don’t know what is happening to me. And I feel so guilty. In the liturgy of today, my God and Saviour Jesus has just given the most indescribable gift to us that makes us one with Him forever. He is about to suffer death for us. For me, so that I am lifted up with Him in His resurrection to God. And what do I feel? I feel empty, blank and cannot see for panic and hurt and darkness. Right when I should be thankful, grateful, filled with hope. Maybe what I most hate about this illness, and about myself as I am with this illness, is that unbearable emotions block out everything even what I most believe to be truth.

Jesus asks his disciples “Will you not watch one hour with me?” They also struggled. They were overcome with exhaustion, confusion, grief and fear. Jesus went away a little distance to pray and returned to find them sleeping.

Will you not watch one hour with me?

Here I am, Lord Jesus. My Jesus, I am here, but I do not know what to do or say. I am with You, yet I fear. You give Yourself to me, yet I lose hope. You died for me, yet I deny You and forget You when I despair and when I am consumed by anger or fear. You call me Your own, but I do not know who I am and I’m terrified of what is inside me, of my “others”. You are Love, You made me to love, but when it matters most, I do not feel.

Right after the Last Supper, came the darkness and agony of Gesthemane. Christ was still to go through His ultimate suffering and sacrifice. There was still the Cross, and still the Resurrection, without which everything before would have been meaningless. The way was not instantly rejoicing and light and the disciples did not yet understand what was to come and that Jesus would be risen from the dead. But the darkness and confusion did not mean Jesus’ love was gone away. It did not mean He had abandoned us. Rather, in suffering His love was about to be poured out for the whole world. Everything and everyone was part of His redemptive plan.

Please Lord Jesus, help me know that when it is dark You have not abandoned me. Please help me lay down now the terror of what I am, the terror that I am beyond Your help and beyond Your love. Because that denies the enormity of what You did for us, when I think You came for everyone but me. Here I am Lord, all of me. Please give me the grace to know You came for me.

Xxx

Resurrection eggs

I have been making some little gifts for the elderly at the Christian day centre where I volunteer. This isn’t my own idea – I came across a similar project on YouTube for “resurrection eggs”. I bought a set of plastic eggshells from a craft store and filled the insides with not only some chocolates but also a Scripture passage I wrote out, a different one for each person. There are a few different versions of this project and often pictures are put in numbered eggs which are opened to tell the Easter story to children. For the day centre I chose to include passages that share God’s mercy and that we are tenderly loved by Him. Please God it will bring some encouragement to our visitors next week (we still celebrate the joy of Easter beyond Easter Sunday!).

Copying out the passages today gave me a little bit of help as I have been extremely low and feeling I’m sinking, not able to carry on. I need to keep reaching out.

You can find the YouTube video by Taming the Frizz, that inspired me HERE .

Ginny xxx

Trying not to choose destructive “safety”

I’m buzzing with anxiety and I don’t know what about. There are loads of things I have been really worried and upset about. But I can’t work out what’s bothering me right now. My stomach is knotted around a cold ache. An actual physical pain. My head feels the same as when my thoughts spiral but there aren’t any thoughts I can catch, just dizzy blankness. My legs are shaky and I’ve lost balance several times. It’s different from the dizziness and fainting that comes with the POTS. I wish I could make it stop. My tablets I regularly take in the evening usually sedate me a bit but it isn’t working. If I could walk for ages, or go running, maybe it would channel the feeling out of me (but I can’t since I can only walk a few yards with crutches).

If I knew why it would help. It’s scarier when the feeling is separated from thoughts. The emotional state seems to have a tighter and limitless hold on me even if rationally I ought to know it will pass. An emotion that shouldn’t be unbearable becomes so because of confusion, fear, and I realise now, the dread that is wrapped up in the associations of previous experiences of this emotion (abuse, being trapped, feeling guilty, feeling unable to stop terrible things happening because of me).

I desperately want to numb it and stop it. Drink, or cut, or binge, or take enough tablets to knock me into sleep. That seems to be the default response my mind and body make. I’m asking God to help me stay right here and feel and know I am with Jesus. This week leading up to Easter we are particularly close to Him in the suffering He went through so we could be with Him. In this small struggle that feels big right now, He hasn’t left me. I will keep on reaching out for His hand, praying and reminding myself of His goodness. Every moment is His way of coming to us now and sometimes we are with Him on a steep path, a storm or a lonely place. What matters is we are with Him.

It seems I’m saying what I really want to believe, rather than give in to the false security of numbness through destructive actions.

Jesus, please hold me, Mother Mary, please help me.

To be continued…

Ginny xxx

Easter crafts – letting the light shine through

We made stained glass window pictures this week at the day centre where I volunteer with elderly people. In a small group we made three pictures – loaves and fish, the Cross and the sun rising above a tomb with the stone rolled away. Here’s the Cross (please excuse the scribbling where I’ve removed anything that could have identified the location; I’m probably being over-cautious but still…):

I made the templates and then we laid them on laminator pages, filled the designs in with tissue papers then added the top sheet and laminated them. This gave them a shiny finish. Once cut out we attached them to window panes to let the light shine through. My inspiration came from a YouTube video of Christian seasonal craft ideas.

It was trickier to do than I’d expected and tested my patience! The tissue paper did not stay in place easily especially when people with limited movement were handling it. Too easily it could be knocked, or the static between the tissue and the laminator sheets pulled pieces out of place. Surprisingly perhaps, all the clients enjoyed it and persevered. It helped that this week everyone seemed curious and wanted to be involved. With clients who often feel depressed or otherwise unwell, this isn’t always the case. This week the clients’ enjoyment encouraged me to keep going even when I thought everything was going to go pear shaped.

Thanks to one of the other staff members we were able to read a bit about how stained glass was and is made and where the colours come from.

We were very happy to do an activity strongly rooted in the hope of Easter. Of course compassion and generosity and love underly everything we do with the clients and we almost always learn, discover and receive blessings as well. However we wanted to do something explicitly exploring God’s gift to us at Easter. In our pictures, each side of the central Cross, the bread and fish represent Jesus’ presence amongst us, His feeding us, His Body given for us 2000 years ago and still on all the altars of the world; the empty tomb and rising sun represent God’s Son Jesus rising from the dead, as He is with us on earth so He is lifting us up to Heaven to be with Him where He is gone. The Cross itself we decorated in bright colours not dark. The Cross is deepest suffering but also and inseparably, our only hope, because there Jesus restored the ruptured relationship between God and man, so that we can now joyfully call Him Heavenly Father. There God’s light shines through to heal our broken hearts.

This Lent time seems to be passing faster and faster for me and I’ve felt I’m grasping at desperate moments to pray between crises, responsibilities, pain and dissociation. It was important to me to have this little time trying to reflect on the Easter promise with those Jesus loves so much, the frail and lonely. Thank you, Lord.

I’m praying for moments of peace throughout your every day.

Ginny xxx

Reforming my food intake – eating disorders v changes for healing

TRIGGER WARNING: this post discusses diet, eating disorders and food restrictions.

I was back at hospital a couple of weeks ago with another bowel pseudo obstruction, with a lot of pain and bleeding. Scary. Thanks be to God this was not as serious as the obstruction I had last year. However over the past year on the whole I have had a marked increase in gastric symptoms which are part of my POTS and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It’s painful and disruptive. Possibly it’s also doing the rest of my body no good if I’m having inflammation or not absorbing nutrients properly.

I’ve decided to change how I eat along the lines of what I’ve read can help people with my conditions. It will involve a lot of protein, cutting right back on wheat and sugars (this will be hard for me!) and eliminating junk food. It will be quite bland at first whilst I find out what foods work for me or not. I don’t have celiacs but people with POTS and EDS can have problems with wheat that aren’t celiacs.

I’m conflicted because any strict diet, food restriction or elimination is triggering to my eating disordered thoughts and voices. Moreover I can’t deny that I’m hoping that my change in diet will lead me to get back control of my hunger, cravings and bingeing and that I’ll lose weight. I really want to sort my stomach problems but control and losing weight are hugely strong desires too. I’m overweight and repulsed at myself.

Possibly what I’m doing isn’t what professionals would think is a good idea if you have bulimia, binge eating disorder or a history of anorexia. Usually elimination of foods isn’t advised and you are supposed to listen to your body’s cues. I have no idea how to safely listen to my body’s cues. It seems to constantly scream “hungry!” In a way, am I listening to my body by recognising my gastric issues and the fact that my current eating is doing me no good? But I’m furious with myself for the binges and constantly want to punish myself. The diet that I’m going to be following will cut out a lot of foods I binge on. Will that stop my binges being triggered? I’m hoping so but I just feel I know I’ll lose control.

I’m trying to think of the changes as a long term way of eating, making it work for me throughout my lifetime, not a fad diet; also I’m trying to remember the fact my body needs this to get better.

Ginny xxx

Moth to a flame

I’ve been drawn back to a website that has been harmful for me before. Another page I follow posted a link to it. I should never have looked at it again in the first place. Definitely not the second, third, fourth time… until I was being drawn back compulsively, hurting more and more each time but still going back like the proverbial moth to a flame. Or to a fluorescent artificial bulb, which seems more appropriate in this case. Why? Is it some kind of self-harm? Some unwilling fascination like not being able to look away from something awful, a crash or accident scene – except the awful thing in this case is what I fear that I am inside.

I don’t want to say what the site is or what was written as that would do no good to readers. In summary it promoted fear of people like me with personality disorders and the harm we do and made various claims about how we think and what our motivations are. It was not new to me, the claims are nothing new and I’ve been well aware of these ideas about people with personality disorders for some time. What was written drew me right in. It activated particular fears and past memories for me. It’s worse because on the face of it at least, the site is highly regarded (though I have suspicions) and because in the past before coming across the harmful articles, I had found some pages on the site about surviving abuse to be helpful and relatable. It’s not as though I stumbled across just any webpage on a spur of the moment search.

It is very hard to hold any sense of my identity apart from what this site “says” I am and what I now fear I am. I was afraid before and continuously doubt myself and my motivation, thought processes, whether I actually love, actually want good and care about people in my life or if actually I’m selfish, if someone thinks I’m good am I actually deceiving them, and it’s never ending. What I’ve read has multiplied and sped up all these thoughts.

The last 3 nights I barely slept, not really knowing why, though this unending thought process is probably a large part of it.

Xxx

Looking for an app to track mood and pain

I am seeing a psychologist at the pain clinic for a short number of sessions. When I was first sent an appointment to do therapy I was really worried and almost angry about it, feeling I’d had enough of therapy in other services where I couldn’t trust the therapists or the community team and I couldn’t risk making myself vulnerable again. On top of that I was sure the therapy would be from the point of view that nothing is wrong with me, the pain I have is unnecessary and my fault because I’ve rested too much and not pushed myself enough, which is an attitude I’ve encountered too many times on so-called pain management courses. Amazingly it has turned out to be a very different experience.

I don’t tend to find pain is terribly related to my mood, beyond the fact that I’m more anxious and low when the pain is worse. It’s also connected to flashbacks but I don’t quite know how. We identified in therapy today that I find awareness of my body very difficult. Maybe that is common in personality disorder and certainly in dissociative identity disorder.

I want to try tracking my pain and my mood together to see if this may show up any links I’m not aware of. I’ve done the two separately before as part of learning to pace activity (I did not find the recording gave me any new insights) but I’ve not really done the two together, not over an extended period anyway.

Phone apps exist to track your mood but I’m looking for an app that tracks mood and pain. Ideally I’d like an app where I could record a numerical score for my pain and my mood every couple of hours through the day, with space to make a brief note if something very significant happened (for example if I have flashbacks or an event triggers traumatic memories or dissociation).

Have you used an app like this and did you learn from it? Any recommendations would be very helpful.

Ginny xx