Hi there my friends. Thanks again for dropping in!
What do you believe- about your self, about life? Have you defined it or are you still working on it? I am definitely still working on it. I think that the best part about being a person with a free mind is that you can always work on it. There is never a point at which you cannot alter who you are and what you believe.
I have shared a little bit about me and what I believe here: I am. I’m an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. Of course, that is only one little crumb of the story (I told you I am a sucker for a lame pun). It has been on my mind a great deal lately to define the Honey, breathe. space a little more. That leads me to share the next few scenes of my life.
Please stick with me. It is very important to me that you know why YOU are important to me. I hope that if you get to know me more that you will really feel that I do care. I don’t want to be a you-really-matter-to-me-tv-special-motivational-speaker. I’m Bekka (Hi there) and part of my belief is that we all have a story and that story matters.
I am an emotional person. (Notice no air quotes, I’m not an “emotional” person). What’s the difference? Well to me… “emotional” is the person that flies off the handle when someone picks up the wrong salad dressing. That’s not me (at least rarely, I hope). I am, however, the person that still feels (physically feels) a moment “hanging over” them. I will hold on to the sadness or stress or feelings of urgency that were shared with me by a friend. THAT WILL STICK WITH ME. I truly believe this to be both a blessing and a job. It’s hard to take on everyone else’s emotions on top of my own. We are only meant to be one person. But at last, that is who I am.
This is one of my strongest character traits, and it was even when I was young. I have always had my emotions tied in with others. Now I hear very often, “Don’t let your happiness depend on someone else.” True, but I hope that doesn’t mean that we aren’t effected by someone else’s hurt. If there is a friend, or even a stranger, around you that is suffering in a profound way, can you carry on without a change in your person? Should you?
Now when I was somewhere around 15 or 16 years old my little world took a bit of a tough turn. My family was loving and sweet and supportive. They still are! Even still, it was a hard year or two.
So I was in high school. I had developed my “place in the pack” as kind of a social butterfly. I had VERY FEW close friends but I could talk with most everyone. I became the peer counselor, of sorts. It seemed as if everyone turned to me to share their problems with. Which was okay, I was always happy to help. As you can imagine though, for a child who already felt emotions so deep, this was a heavy weight to carry.
I had several friends who had confided in me that they were cutting themselves, or thinking about suicide. Some that had really tough home lives. One that hardly ever had food at home. I LOVED THESE PEOPLE. My heart broke for them. Their struggles and fears would literally feel as if there was something big and leering hanging behind me. I would (and honestly still do, though now I understand it) look behind me trying to remember why I felt bad emotions hanging on. I would internalize their struggle long after we had talked.
Then, I started having a hard time eating. Not a loss of appetite but a physically hard time consuming food. I would eat and feel like the food was caught in my throat. Sometimes if I stood up and walked around while I was eating then I would be okay. Most of the time I would have to run from the commons to the bathroom to throw up. I couldn’t explain it at this point, but I felt as if I was being suffocated by the food. My chest was tight and it was just stuck there.
Imagine, every single day (for a year), that you tried to eat in a crowded lunch room with your friends. After 3 or 4 bites you would have to push past table and table of students trying not to throw up on someones backpack or in front of everyone. You would finally make it to the bathroom stall, heaving and then dry heaving until your ribs and sides hurt, only to hear the girl in the bathroom ask if you was okay and if I needed help or someone to talk to. EVERY DAY.
I was starving. I was frustrated. I was hurt. I was scared. I was not in control.
Now I was always a chubby kid. I was never good at sports. I was never super popular or pretty. None of this had bothered me too much before. But by the end I lost probably about 60-70 lbs. From the outside, it looked like text-book bulimia. I was not choosing to be sick. It was not bulimia.
Remember that sweet and loving family I mentioned? They believed me. They trusted me. So we went to the doctor time and time again for blood tests and UA tests. At one point I went for a UA and was so dehydrated that my dad had to sit in the waiting room with me while I drank about a gallon of water before I could even give a sample. That is some serious dehydration my friends. Test after test would come up good.
Besides loosing so much weight, I was fine…
Since there was “obviously” no physical reason for me to be throwing up, I was ordered to go to counseling. I mean, it made sense. Even while I was going through this, I knew it made sense. It was the only thing that anyone knew to do because they couldn’t find anything else. All I knew was that I was starving and that I didn’t want to die this way.
That may seem a bit dramatic, but it would get to that point.
I can’t remember exactly when (I am sure the hospital bill would have a date) but I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I walked down the hallway in the dark and flipped on the light. Nothing. Dang it, the light bulb is out. I flipped on the bathroom switch. The fan came on. The light didn’t. Panic. Why is everything black?! I can’t see. I felt my way down the hallway to my parents room. I clutched the door frame from feeling scared and a bit dizzy.
(A conversation to this effect)
“Mom. Mom… Is the hall light on?”
“Yea, why? You okay?”
“I can’t see! I can’t see! Every thing is black!”
This was not the kind of darkness you see when your eyes are closed and the light shines in and you see a red tint. This was complete darkness. Black.
All I have from that moment on are scene clips of memories. I remember my mom grabbing me by the shoulder and elbow and walking me back down the hallway to my bedroom. I remember hearing her scream when I faded back in laying on the floor. I remember my head falling past the corner of my wooden bed frame on my way down again. I remember waking up in my bed, my feet raised, asking my mom if I had passed out. I remember looking up and seeing my parents looking over me. Thank God I could at least see.
Next thing I know, I was in the hospital again. Very dehydrated and malnourished. I can’t remember if I stayed the night or not. That wasn’t the part that carved a way into my being. It was the fear of loosing my sight. Of loosing consciousness. Of not being in control of whatever was happening to me. That is what I remember.
Sometime later (again, I can’t remember if it was a sunny spring day or a dreary winter day, that wasn’t the part that mattered) I had an answer! It was as simple as speaking with a specialist in the next town over. He consulted with me over the phone and said that he thought he knew what was wrong. OVER THE PHONE! Months and months of struggling, of tests, of not knowing and he figured it out over the phone?! To be honest, I wasn’t even angry. I was so excited to have a doctor that believed me and knew what to do about it that I couldn’t have been resentful if I had to be.
I have achalasia.
Achalasia is a disorder caused by an “abnormal immune system response.” (1) My body formulated a response to my stress level and anxiety as if I was allergic to it. My body decided to close off my esophagus because it’s thought that it was being poisoned. The most important point I want to make here is that I didn’t (and still don’t) think that I was stressed enough to cause this kind of craziness. But. I. Was.
I had surgeries, several surgeries. Right now, I a good but there is an ever lingering chance it can come back.
My body literally almost let itself die because it thought that was the safer choice! I honestly cannot even fully understand that still. It is hard to believe that stress can be so toxic to your body that your body would rather choose to no longer continue than to continue in the state it is in.
Unfortunately, it is not just the body that makes this choice.
April 10, 2012. My dad committed suicide.
Naturally my family struggled with this loss. Our hearts broke. This is not an easy road, being a suicide survivor.
What I did not expect from his suicide was the overwhelming fear I had.
There is a family history of depression. This is not all that uncommon these days. I had never thought of myself as a depressed person. I had good days & bad days and stress & joy and it all eventually leveled itself out. We went over this tirelessly when I was in counseling during those sick years. Although, until the end, I never saw my dad as a depressed person who would have killed himself either.
It is hard to put the chaos that was swirling in my mind into words, but here we go.
I was thrown into this spiral of anxiety about anxiety. My thoughts kept coming back to my dad (giggly, fun, creative, determined, strong) committing suicide and how outrageous that was. If the demons (or what ever you want to call them) could drag him down so far that he truly believe there was NO OTHER answer, then what could they do to me?
Like I said, I was not depressed or suicidal but I had an overwhelming-couldn’t-shake-it-was-scared-to-sleep fear that my mind could turn on me. That I wasn’t in control. What if I did get depression? What if I did want to kill myself? I was in a constant panic attack thinking that I would literally be stuck in a situation where I didn’t want to kill myself, like I was screaming inside my head, but that my mind would somehow take over and make me do it. I know that this probably sounds a little crazy, but that is what I imagined. Being trapped inside your own head.
I was feeling depressed thinking that I was becoming depressed about the thought that I could end up like my dad. Does that even make sense? The fear of depression was making me feel like I had depression.
I fought this with as much as I had. I was falling into a sandpit of anxiety that was sure to cause more damage. In the end I was able to come out of that momentary chaos. I can say that it probably wasn’t a long fight, a month or less, but it felt like a very long time. My husband, who has always loved me and fought for me, was always there to comfort me- even when my thoughts scared him (and I know that they did). I am grateful for what ever it was that gave me traction again.
I tell you all that to say this:
Your story matters. Your story is NOT over. You matter to this world.
Both of those snap shots of my life are extreme examples of stress, anxiety, and mental illness. I am passionate about helping people live a life that will help them feel free. It is important to me that everyone has somewhere they can turn. Your story has a purpose and a power. There is something that you have learned that you can teach others. You can help someone make a change. That is what I want to do here.
I want to share anything and everything that I have learned that can help make a difference, big or small. I will use all the tools that I have collected. So when I share, you might see a focus on mental health. You will definitely see a focus on oils (they made a huge impact in the anxiety level in my life). Some will be fun stuff, like blending you’re own teas and some will be more serious, like today’s post.
This is a real world. Pleasant times and tough times, I am going to be here. I hope that you find something that can be even a little help to you.