"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mistakes made - June 28

Never assume that just because you are feeling better overall and dealing with things better, that you can start skipping some of your medication. After arranging "my own schedule and amounts" for a couple days, I have realized today and this evening that it was a big mistake. I'm on the medicine for a reason....to stabilize, to calm, to cope and to have quality in my life. 

Once again, I began to fixate on lost friendships and that Douglas doesn't give a crap about me or any friendship we ever had. It just bothers me that he leads worship and calls himself a Christian, but cannot (apparently) forgive or make attempts. I really want to not care, but, I still do. The more I fixated, the more I sank. So, I got mad at myself for being so petty and pouty and promised to forget about it all because it does me no good. It just does me harm and impedes my recovery. 

So...I made up a bit ago for all the pills I missed today and am very tired of mind and body at the moment. So, I'm heading to bed to (hopefully) sleep very soundly. And to awaken to a new day where I feel more in control, well, with God's help.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The story continues - June 25, 2015

Welp, it's Thursday evening again...the day before another therapy session. Last week, we didn't do the EMDR session, but I will hope to tomorrow. I've had a good week, but I've had some anger, some sadness, some remorse, some anxiety....sometimes separately and sometimes all together. My emotions have been very sensitive and I've taken some things too seriously to heart that weren't meant to be. And that led back to feelings of a lack of self-worth that I've struggled so hard to overcome.

When I think about the EMDR session tomorrow, I need to get back to addressing the problems I experienced in my church back in the 2005-2007 years. The more I think back to those years, and the manipulations and lies and emotional and verbal abuse that some of the ministerial staff heaped upon me and others, the unfairness and anger comes so quickly. I get almost physically sick at the thought of seeing them or hearing them preach about God's Love and Care when their actions showed such a Pharisee attitude. Such a "better than you" attitude. Running a church staff, and now an entire church, by ego and brain washing religious jargon. I feel dirty to even go in the building.

On the flip side, I have found a newness in life through several churches with which I have become affiliated. A joy, a genuine love of God, an honesty from the pulpit and from the staff I've not known in years, which leads to a genuine loving congregation. I only wish that the church community could understand how serious and how wide-spread mental and emotional illnesses are in their congregations and provide some type of opportunities for support groups. To let us know that we are loved and supported, even if you don't understand. But, mainly to let us know that God is with us and holding us close as we face whatever illnesses we must face.

My diagnosis of PTSD has opened my eyes even more to how I have traditionally reacted to abusive situations. The knee-jerk reaction of shutting down immediately to avoid further harm to myself. I have had three bosses that were abusive, were toxic and I realize now because of my illnesses and inabilities to stand up and defend myself, that I allowed myself to be beaten further and further down. But...now, friends....I can sense those days are coming to an end. I am not the same person I was six months ago. Not by a long shot and I continue to gain strength and purpose and tend to not put up with the crap I have for so many years. I am getting better about standing up for myself, even to the expense of someone else's opinions of who or what I should be.

As for Douglas, I still think of him occasionally and remember the good days of our friendship. I do miss him, but, I will no longer attempt any contact. I allowed him to hurt me and "steal my joy" for far too long, and, even though he is a good guy to some people...he wasn't a good guy to me and I don't have time to waste on worry. If he wants to reconcile someday, well, that's his decision. I will continue praying for him and his life, because that's what I feel God telling me to do and I do continue to love him as my brother in Christian. I've forgiven his actions toward me, so my conscience is now clean.

This has turned out a lot longer than I intended, but once I started it was just hard to stop. This is my journey back from the black hole of PTSD, clinical depression and anxiety. I am emotionally and mentally ill. But, with God, family and friends by my side, I will make it. I know it. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

I haven't abandoned the "story".......

   I haven't abandoned tell more of my story about the verbally and emotionally abusive relationships which brought me to this point of PTSD and assorted issues. Last Friday at my therapy session, I asked if we could not do the EMDR treatment because there were a good many things I just needed to talk about. And, I was glad to put some clarity to things. The EMDR process is what brings back a lot of the abuse and emotional things that make up my story and I just wasn't ready to go there yet. But, this week, we will start back up.

  Today was also a good day. I worked at a friends office helping to clean out, straighten up and organize, so it that kept my mind occupied (which is a good). I'll be back tomorrow and try to finish up that project before I get back to the job-hunting. There are a couple places I'm waiting to hear back, so maybe they'll call tomorrow, or the next day. That car payment is getting closer and I hate to miss one, but the money just ain't there and it does make me a bit anxious.

  I also spent some more time thinking about my friend,Doug, today. I know everyone tells me to just get over it, let it go, the friendship wasn't worth it if he just walked away with no reason....but, I just can't let it go yet. Maybe someday. Part of my thinking is if I could just hear something from him about what happened, I could get some closure...even if he tells me I sucked as a friend and as a fellow musician, I could at least know why. I have forgiven him and still consider him a friend, but he has blocked all communications with me, so there's no way (short of driving to TN) to try and reconcile. That's why I have to leave it all to God. I pray for him every night and hope he's doing well and that God will lead him someday to reach out. But, I am not willing to give up on him so far. Maybe I'm stupid....but, I just try to be a friend....even when it's not wanted. But, my friends...the good part is that I no longer get obsessive like I used to. I have forgiven and I have moved on until God leads as He wishes.

   So, it has been a good day. Had one mild panic attack after I got home from work, so I need to go back to my routine of heading to my room for some alone time before facing the family. That's always been the best decompression time for me. 

Thanks for reading and following my story. I'm still struggling (probably more than my last few days of thoughts have conveyed), but I am convinced that God is and will be taking care of me through His power and through the prayers of all you friends. I am ever so thankful for you.

~ Jimmy

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Random thoughts from my journey back from the brink - Sunday, June 20

    Today was a good day and I think my therapist will be as happy as I am. I played piano at my mom's church and actually enjoyed it immensely without giving a second thought to panic, anxiety, anything. It flowed. Of course, the people at Bouldercrest, my home church, are the kindest and most forgiving people I know, but their support and encouragement through all these past few months has gotten me this far. Of course, only a couple of them know what is really happening with me, but I'm sure if they did, it would not matter.

  The one thing I am proud of today is that at tonight's service, I actually played and sang "Set A Fire."  That's the only song I've never been able to listen to, play or sing since April when my downward spiral into PTSD, anxiety and depression began. I had picked a different song to do, but when I got to the church and we had rehearsed the service music a time or two, I felt so strongly God telling me to do "Set A Fire." 

  "But, God, that's the song that I can't even think about without breaking down in tears and withdrawal. There are too many memories, good and bad. The other praise band sang it only a couple weeks ago and I had to leave the sanctuary to get away. I can't do it."

  Well, if you know God like I do, He won. I pulled the song up on my iPad and went for it. And did it. And felt God standing beside me with His hand around my back holding me together. I made it through. It was emotional, but just a couple tears. I was so blessed to have another part of my lost music back. Don't know that I can do it again, but I'm not worried about that. I did it this time and that tells me I'm on the road to recovery.

  In fact, I accidentally missed a couple scheduled medication times today and never thought about until just now and I have had no major affects. As I write and think back over today, I am getting a bit jittery, but, hey...it's been a good day today and I pray for tomorrow to be another. And, especially, that I find a job. My car payment is coming due the end of this week, and the funds ain't in the bank. So, I will be trying to not let that throw off my "better" cycle back into an "anxiety and depression" cycle. 

 But, for today, it was good and I give all thanks and praises to God for allowing me to have this for strength to face this week.

~ Jimmy

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Random Thoughts - June 20

  Panic attacks are something that people who do not have them cannot possibly understand. It's been several weeks, more than a month, since I've had anything resembling one. But, today, wowee, within a moment's notice and, always without warning, I was overcome with a mongo anxiety attack. No reason. No purpose. Nothing caused it. I was just sitting on the back deck, feeling relaxed and okay and then....waves upon waves of anxiety and terror began to wash over me. I couldn't hear what people were saying and I couldn't sit still because....well, I just couldn't. 

  It was not a time when I could take medication, so I would have to just live it out until my next dosage could be taken. And, this one was pure hell.

  I wish there was a way to describe to you (if you do not have them), how debilitating they can be. Especially, the big ones. I finally went into my bedroom, shut the door, turned the tv on, but down low because I could not concentrate on the program and just tried all the methods that seem to work. Deep breaths - check! Reciting scriptures - check! Prayers holding my prayer beads - check! Normally, music would help, but I'm still having issues and problems with that, so that just kept me on edge....so, finally I just laid on the bed, closed my eyes and concentrated on deep breaths and positive thoughts until I could take my medication. Then, back to the bed, breathing, trying to control and keep my thoughts calm. 

  Finally, I felt better enough to go eat dinner with my family, but was still in an edgy mood and couldn't concentrate on conversations and just kept quiet. As the evening progressed and I could just lie on the sofa and watch tv, I could finally feel the anxiety beginning to let go of it's hold on my gut and my heart and my head.

  Thanks be to God (and the good prescription-makers), I'm doing well enough that I think I can go to bed shortly, read for awhile and then get some sleep. 

  For those of you who deal with this disease, my prayers are with you and may God bless all of us. For those of you who don't, please keep us in prayer as we have these periods of anxiety and panic. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Random thoughts for today's journey - June 18

'Tis Thursday evening which means tomorrow is Therapy Day. Golly Pete, I've had a whole lot happening inside my head and spirit this week that I almost can't wait to go and share with the good doc.

 After discovering a connection to my anger issues as a child, I've gone through so, so many events through my life that are now beginning to make sense. It makes sense why my mother labels me as "The King of Passive Aggressiveness," so that I can avoid the confrontations or anger demonstrations that I feel. I don't know how this will affect anything at this point, but I'm looking forward to exploring it more tomorrow.

 I got my keyboard out of my car trunk today where it's been since mid-April when I traveled to Tybee Church to sing and speak and my world began to spiral down into the very blackness of hell on earth. I could not bear the thought to seeing it with the chord charts still taped on from the last performance and church service with Doug before he decided he no longer wanted to be friends and shut me out. So, it has been sitting out there and I avoided it at all costs. But, I'm leading music at Covington FUMC this Sunday and need to practice on it in my bedroom (as opposed to the "real" piano in the family room), so I can get a true sound for the songs we're doing. 

 I cannot begin to tell you the anxiety I felt as I headed to the car, opened the trunk and saw it sitting back there. But, I prayed (it may sound silly, but I really had to pray hard to be able to even touch it), and brought it inside and set it up in the corner of my bedroom sitting area. Then, I sat on the cedar chest and just stared at it as if it were some living being, but it did have some type of control over me and some very sad memories. And, for the first time in several weeks, the tears came, but they were more cleansing this time. I realized how much I miss my friend and doing music together, but, perhaps that's in the past. I do know that it's up to God. But, I do know that I must still pray for him and for me and for a reconciliation that only God can bring about.

  But, after a bit, I began to take the old music off and fixed my notebook for Sunday night and began to play. I couldn't do it for long (and this is probably what people have the hardest thing understanding), but I have learned with this PTSD and other emotional illnesses I'm dealing with.....it HAS to be this way. Little steps for little feet. Don't force anything that I can't handle. But, this is a piano. My love since I was eight years old. A piano. The musical instrument where my spirit and feelings could soar....through church music, the the Atlanta Ballet where I accompanied for a number of years, through the Tybee Bar, through just the joy of sitting down and playing. And, yet, I still struggle. It scares me. And, let's not even start on my guitar which is still hidden from sight, but, I may try to bring out tomorrow sometimes. We'll see.

  I'm so tired of this crap. I'm so tired of wanting to be who and what I want to be, but cannot be. I'm so tired of needing to take so much medication just to function. I'm so tired of feeling like a failure at life and insignificant to others. In my heart, I know none of these are true, but my head is not comprehending it yet. But, with each day, I am feeling a bit better. Again, little steps for little feet.

  Without the assurance and belief that my God is walking this path with me (and my slightly-more-demented-than-me guardian angel), I don't know what I would do. God is where my Hope is, my Peace, my Comfort in the dark of the night when I can't sleep and pace and can't turn my mind off and my anxieties are running rampant.

  But, that's just me tonight. I've shared before that therapy days get intense, but so very, very cleansing and healing. I'm just impatient. Tonight I thank God for the good and compassionate doctors who are working with me AND especially for the good and faithful friends who support and encourage me during this struggle. And, I am getting stronger. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Story - Part 9 - June 16

As I left off last time, I had come to realize how growing up with adults (psychologists and preachers) telling me how wrong it was to be and to show anger, by the time I hit 2005 and so, I think I was prime for something bad to happen. Fortunately, I thought that by working for a church, all would be calm, holy, spiritual and, well, Godly. How much more wrong could I have been.

   I spent almost three years of being promised all manner of things from promotions to positions to more responsibilities, only to realize later that it was all manipulations of the ministerial staff to get me to do what they wanted. They knew I had gifts and talents that I wanted to use for God, and they knew how to push the right buttons to get me to do them. Then, the rug would be pulled out and I realize it was all more lies and deceptions. I was removed from a position in a deceptive lie in order to hire someone who would do "their bidding" and not ask questions about money. Then, I was demoted in the music area I was in to make room for someone whom I had been told by the Pastor "would never play keyboards in this church again." However, within a month, I was moved from piano to keyboard to out the door. 

  My faith suffered. My trust of ministers suffered. At my next job, the stress and pressure was intense until after a year and a half, I suffered a heart attack. Not a serious one with much damage, but a heart attack nevertheless. I had a very demanding boss and I was fired the first day I returned to work after my hospitalization. Again, incorrect information led to this, but I did not stand up for myself or allow myself to show anger. I just held it in as I collected my office stuff and went home. 

  For some time after these two experiences, I was a very angry, depressed and panic-ridden young man. My temper flared at any occasion at the wrong people and I lashed out at people without any provocation. For the most part, I stayed at home and avoided the world....especially the church. I started seeing a psychiatrist again on a regular basis and we began trying a different regimen of medication which began to get me back on track. 

  My interest in life began to perk up somewhat and I found the job that was ideal for me. 

  But, for tonight, this is about all I can handle about this.

   Almost three months ago, I was diagnosed with PTSD and clinical depression. After a month of EMDR treatment for the PTSD, I can honestly say it is working. I am facing the abusive events of my life, the emotions I never dealt with and beginning to make sense of myself once again. I am starting to feel like Jimmy once again. I had lunch today with an old friend that I haven't seen in several years and it was a great time. I am realizing that even though I do have one jerk that decided to not be a friend, that I have many more....so, I'm realizing more and more that I don't need him. I do still pray for a reconciliation in God's Time (and I think it will come), but I have placed it in God's hands now and taken the burden off myself and no longer blame myself. 

  This is it for tonight, gang. I get so many messages from you that are struggling through life similarly to me and that it so encouraging. I hope and pray that you can find the peace and calmness that I am finding through therapy and through God. Keep praying for me and I'll be praying for you. Okay?