More than Normal

I don’t love the many days of Recovery that aren’t exactly good, aren’t exactly bad, just… repetitive.

But on days where you don’t always expect it, you can learn things.

I find the harder my mental, emotional, and physical symptoms push at me, the harder I push back, like that one Skillet Song puts it (Not Gonna Die.)

Why shouldn’t I do what I want? Even if I have issues.

And you know, I’m finding there’s a lot of people like me out there.

Before starting Therpay and ending an abusive situation, I never heard people talk about struggling with mental health problems all that much, I knew one or two people maybe, but I didn’t talk to them at length about it.

Since coming out about all this, I keep discovering people who seem otherwise happy are secretly hiding tormenting anxiety, depression, and mood swings.

Then again, people might have thought my Dad seemed happy too.

See, I’m not like that. When I’m going through something, it’s pretty obvious I don’t smile or talk as much, I’ve always been frustrated with myself for this, but now I am wondering if it’s a good thing. I wear my heart on my sleeve in many ways. When I’m happy I show it, when I’m down I show it. But people notice and can help me.

I’m surprised by how many people who seem cheerful are covering up pain. It kind of makes sense, you have to overcompensate for how you feel. I’m noticing there is a fragility to it, and those people tend to make dark jokes. They joke about their negative feelings too.

I guess it’s a way to ask for help, but knowing that others may not really be able to help you, it’s hard.

Sometimes there’s a solace in knowing others are going through it, but for me, it’s actually discouraging to know they haven’t conquoered it either, I was hoping there was just something I’m missing.

That’s why I was blessed, quite literally, to talk to a lady at my church who’s actually been through the whole intrusive thoughts/depression ordeal, and been free for 10 years now. Which was very encouraging to hear.

My struggle isn’t over, but it is better. I got some good prayer.

It’s got to sound so weird, treating my issues with prayer and worship. Not the most accepted method.

Still, it’s Biblical.

Not that I’m saying professional help is bad, I did seek it out, but it just doesn’t work as well as the other things did.

There’s a song by Rachael Lampa “My Remedy” that I have a new apprecaition for since all this started.

I know where to go, to heal my heart to soothe my soul…

Every time I cry, and I want to hide, feeling like I’m damaged on the inside, I come running to You..

(You know what I need, you’re the Remedy, that’s why I’m keeping you close.

You know what’s bad for me, my only therapy, Jesus your love is my hope.)

On point, off track, one step forward, two steps back. Some days are gonna be just like that.

You’re my medicine, relieve my pain again and again, you always take me back no matter where I’ve been.

Every time I’m hurt, and it doesn’t work, feeling like it never could get any worse, you know just what to do.

It can feel like everyday is simply the struggle to feel normal again. Whatever normal is. I don’t even remember, what I am at now may actually have been my normal beofre, I just didn’t notice what was lacking from it.

If I were to have been really honest, even before the emotional backlash to my Dad moving out started to surface, my life didn’t feel complete.

I spent years in that abusive cycle, feeling afraid, rejected, used. All of which I was. Of course I didn’t feel normal.

Like those stupid pot commercials that played after it got legalized. “Helps me feel normal.” If being high is normal, all I can say is you need a new normal.

And so did I. If that situation was normal, normal is overrated.

Of course for many people, a bad situation is normal. It’s all they’ve ever been in, they’re used to it, they know how to “handle” it, so to speak. Some people are addicted to constantly being hurt, and riding on the Drama high.

One reason I was able to break the abuse was because I had slowly stopped needing the drama. There was a time I fought with my dad on purpose, but after awhile, God showed me how stupid it was to keep doing that when it never worked and only made us both upset. My dad himself had to have drama, if we had a good day, he’d start a fight or give me a verbally scarring lecture in order to restore balance. It was horrid. But he was addicted to the chaos.

My normal was still not perfect though, my normal was not a thriving family dynamic, but simply “coping” until I could get out of it. And I’ve come to see that’s how I treat every problem in my life. I try to cope until an escape presents itself.

It usualy works, gritting your teeth and clenching your hands, up till a certain point. Most painful events only last a few days at most.

But when it goes on for months, and you start to wonder if an end is in sight, then coping becomes a death trap. It leaves you feeling hopeless.

It’s okay to cope, if you have no choice, but in many cases what we are coping with may be something imaginary. Our real problem may be we can’t let go of our perception of ourselves as the victim, or the only one who’s suffering, or worse, we can’t stop seeing ourselves as a failure, a worthless piece of crap, lazy or difficult, or impossible to love.

You can cope with being told that over and over again, like Cinderella in that old story does… but what happens if that situation ends, and you still only see those things around you.

The fairy tales have it right, you do need to be rescued from it by someone else, no one can get out of that place themselves. If they thought they had, that would actually be a terrible sign.

My mom said this to me yesterday, that I don’t need to get back to “normal”. I want to get “better“, to move on into a better situation.

Normal is the status quo, but Jesus promised us an abundant life. Not a normal life.

Normal really is overrated.

Now, if better becomes the new normal, then that’s good. But my mom reminded me of something I already believed, that state of being that is permanent is not possible for a Christian, not a healthy one. The Word says we go from glory to glory.

Stagnation is death, in the Spiritual. God never changes because He is a complete entity, and needs no growth, He already has it all. But all created things, at least in this world, have to grow to be alive.

Anyway, so my new attitude needs to become that at the end of this, I will not have my old state of mind back, but a better one. I will not be as happy as I was, but happier. More joyful.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Not Gonna Die https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njJ7NZMH70M

My Remedy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXgcwHvsqTc

Hanging in There.

Time to get serious.

Stuff happens. It’s been a rough mental time for me.

I both got and lost a job recently, and am now looking at another one. My sisters and I went to the beach to get out of the house. And I went to a women’s group at my church.

We just spent the whole time talking, and then praying. It was really good.

image (41)

You know what I found out? Age is just a number.

All us ladies, from the youngest (me) to the oldest (a lady in her 70s or 80s) have similar struggles.

The Lock-down has given many of us anxiety, some have not gotten to see their children or grandchildren in months. Some are still out of work. More than one of us are in therapy or counseling.

I was surprised to hear a lady much older than me, who has a daughter my age, say she has some of the same problems as me with feeling guilty about relying on people.

It reminded me that there are things you don’t grow out of with age.

Of course, I had proof of that. In my own family. It can be weird knowing I was more mature than some of my much older relatives.

One other thing that I got reminded of was the importance of sharing our story.

I’ve heard that “the degree to which you are able to tell your story is the degree to which you are able to heal.” I think that’s true.image (28)

Maybe that’s why anime characters always get redeemed after the whole tragic backstory comes out.

You know the most shocking thing about sharing is that you find out how your experiences are not really rare. It takes a very uniquely messed up person to have a story that doesn’t ring true for thousands of other people.

Good experiences tend to be our own, they would only have been special to us in the way they happened, what sounds nice to us sounds boring or weird to someone else, but everyone understands humiliation, betrayal, heartbreak, depression, etc.

The reason I write about my unpleasant experiences on this blog is because I know people need to hear about them, they need to hear what I learn along the way. and it also serves to remind me that I am going through a process.

Lately, my biggest struggle has been intrusive thoughts about killing myself.

Now, when I say that, people think I mean contemplating suicide. But that isn’t what I’m doing.

It’s more like a suggestion “kill yourself” or “I want to kill myself” comes into my head, uninvited, and I am horrified by it.

Thoughts of harming myself also come often. Like an image in my mind’s eye.

The suggestion is more like “I could do this” then ” I want to” usually.

I wonder if anyone reading this knows what I’m talking about.

I have had intrusive thoughts most of my life, sometimes they are about hurting other people, sometimes they are about hurting myself, those ones dated back to my preteen years.

I never once acted on these thoughts, and I still haven’t to this day. I assumed they came from depression, but they happen when I don’t feel depressed.

The real trigger seems to be anxiety, I think that’s common with people who have these thoughts. I have anxiety about my ability to deal with life, and with people, and with myself, the thoughts center around making me feel even more insecure about that. If what you think about is a reflection of who you are, the logic goes, than I must be a terrible person.

Some people do give into these thoughts and become terrible. Others never do, and the thoughts get better.

They come most when someone feels bad about who they are. These thoughts are like your mind’s bully. Telling you you are all the things you fear you truly are, deep down. And it’s hard to get away from them when it’s in your own head.

I got so afraid of these thoughts, I didn’t want to write anything about it for fear of focusing on it more.

But I believe in sharing my struggles. So here goes.image (31)

I’ll admit, I do not yet have the solution. But I can give you somethings that have helped me find some relief and even victory in this area.

A big thing: I had a breakthrough when my mom helped me realize that if killing myself was something I wanted to do (it’s not, but the thoughts raise the question) I would not do it, because I believe God has given me a life, and I should let Him be in charge of it. I would choose God over taking an easy way out. (At no point did I plan to go through with such a thing, the whole power was in the suggestion of it.)

While my confidence in my own resolve varies, it’s good to know what I really want.

Another thing that helps, trying not to follow these thoughts, it’s like a trap, you end up treading a well worn path that never gives you any answers about anything, or makes you feel better. But it’s addictive. You end up feeling kind of wrong without it.

One day when I tried to go the whole day not worrying, I felt empty. The noise in my head was what filled me up and took up my energy.

Something else that really helped, getting prayer and encouragement from those ladies. They encouraged me not to feel like such a failure, or so weak. To remember who I am. And to believe there’s an end to this.

A thought that often bothers me, and I’m sure you can relate, is “Will this ever end?” I’ve had the problem for so many years, and even though it’s gotten better at times, it has come back again and again.

This is the first time I learned anything about why it happens though. Or what works on it, other than distraction.

On record, I don’t know if intrusive thoughts end or not, at least for the average person. God can fix any problem.

And believe me, I get frustrated that He hasn’t yet. I hate it so much.

But hating it only makes me hate myself, and that only makes it worse. And being afraid only makes it worse for it adds to the anxiety that probably causes it to begin with.

There are people who fought something for 20 years before God healed it. Healing happens, but not always in the time we want it to.

Sometimes I feel I can’t take it anymore, but by then I’ve usually worried more about having the problem then the problem itself makes me miserable.

It’s true, struggling with a sin like fear and doubt is humiliating for a Christian. We’re supposed to have Faith, Hope, Joy, and Love.

Yet, somehow, even in this process, I haven’t lost those things. I think I love my family more for how supportive they’ve been, and for friends who’ve also helped.

I have Hope in that I am still in this and haven’t give up, and God promise “he who endures to the end shall be saved”

Sometimes I have Joy, despite this suffering, when I remember the Goodness of God and how He has helped me through many, many difficult days when I thought I couldn’t go any further.

All that has built up my Faith.

I have moments of doubt, every day sometimes, but overall, I have stayed true to what I believe.

And I have done what my Dad, who has the same problem, never did. I have asked for help, I have sought answers, I have prayed and praised God and not lost my connection with Him throughout this.

So, I believe I will survive it. I will go on, and I’ll recover from how emotionally draining this experience has been.

I guess I could close with some advice to anyone who has dealt with or knows someone who has dealt with this problem.

  1. If they told you about it that took courage, don’t act afraid of them.

Believe me, anyone who owns up to this is in enough shame and guilt, don’t add to it. They don’t like these thoughts, so you don’t need to worry about that, unless they start acting on them, but that is no longer intrusive thoughts.

2. Be encouraging.

Everyone has good and bad days with this problem. Encourage them to believe in the good, and that the bad day will always pass. And at least they stuck it out.

3. Tell them the truth.

What helps you when you’re down? What gives you strength? What typically helps the person in question? Try to help them focus on that.

4. Remind people it’s not permanent.

5. Listen.

People who feel guilty may need to talk it out before they can let go of that.

6. Know that it is never just about the thoughts. It’s about the fear and dread and self hatred.

Someone with this problem needs lots of love, constantly. Sometimes it helps me to just get a hug. When I feel disgusted with myself, I need a reminder other people still want to be close to me and help me, and they like who I am.

People tend to become who they think you see them as.

7. Don’t take it personally.

The thoughts aren’t because you did something wrong. Especially if it’s about hurting you. That means the person loves you, and they don’t trust themselves. If anything, you must be on the right track.

The fear of these thoughts led me to isolate myself in the past, and this time around I am purposefully not doing that, which is helping me deal with it.

Honestly, I think once it stops working, it starts going away, because what’s the point anymore?

And I think that will be all for now. Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Killing God With the Power of Friendship: an anime conundrum.

Okay weeboos, let’s do this.                              image (27)

If you’re not into anime, stick around, this should still be interesting.

You know the famous (and depressing) philosopher Nietzsche? The guy who reputedly said “God is Dead.” Or, that God never existed and the idea of Him is what is in fact dead.

I am starting to think almost every single writer in Japan is with Nietzsche on this one.

Since I got into anime about a year or two maybe ago, I’ve seen maybe 20, not nearly as many as die hard fans, but a fair amount, and I’ve heard the plot of other ones from reviewers and my sisters.

And I started noticing a really weird common thread in Shonen or sometimes Isekai anime.

Shonen anime is basically superhero/special power adventure type shows.                                                                   katsuki-bakugou-my-hero-academic-4k-3o

Isekai is AU, or other world based shows, where the premise usually starts with an ordinary guy or girl somehow being transported to another world, sometimes through reincarnation, sometimes a summoning, etc.                                                          HappyColor_19332

There’s a few anime that are kind of a combination of genres that also would fit what I’m about to describe.

Nearly every anime of this sort that I’ve seen ends in, or has some plot at some point, that involves defeating a character that is said to be either a god, or basically the equivalent of a god, or maybe even The God.

The character is typically a villain, of course, and usually cruel and power mad and ready to wipe out or enslave the human race.

An then the protagonist will either use paragon powers, or the power of friendship to do what everyone swore was impossible for the whole show, and kill this god character.

If you think I’m wrong…well…

Naruto, easily one of the most popular anime of all time, ends (SPOILER ALERT) with Naruto and his team effectively killing or defeating at least, a god and…maybe another god? It was unclear (honestly most of the fans agree it was bizarre).

Fairy Tail, another really popular and really lengthy anime, also ends with a character who had basically become a god (or was cursed by the gods) being killed. Two characters, actually. Along with a host of other very powerful, god like people. There were even “godslayers” in the show.

I recently started Katana Maidens, it ended the first half with defeating an evil goddess.

What’s funny is if the show doesn’t kill the god, they end up subduing it to the hero’es side. Like, the heroes will still beat it, it’ll just become their friend then.

Examples include Dragon Ball when it got to Beerus (weird but funny)

Probably Fruits Basket, so far it hasn’t concluded.

Freaking Boruto advertised the killing god ending in the first episode

Full Metal Alchemist, from what I hear.

Not to mention a crap ton of video games made in Japan also have you fight gods or fate, and defeat it.

Speaking of Fate, if we counted the amount of anime that have people declaring they’ll change or resist Fate, we could count a lot of  Rom Com or slice of life or sci-fi anime also.

And it’s starting to trickle into American Media influenced by anime.

 

she-ra-season-5-netflix     NetFlix’es She-Ra ends with a character who claimed to be like God dying.

The freaking Guardians of the Galaxy kill a god in their 2nd movie. Thanos gets killed in Endgame.

But those examples are a bit more shaky, Anime is what has the gods actually have followers, and a lot of power and they are almost always evil, or else stupid or lazy like Konosuba’s (I suppose that beats evil.)

Personally, I prefer anime that just stay off the subject, because once they introduce a god, the show always gets much, much darker.

Oh, yeah, that new BNA Netflix show also has a god battle in the end… I guess I won’t spoil what happens (I think the show really wasn’t that good but some people like it.)

I’m sure a hardcore weeaboo could name a bunch of stuff I’ve missed too. But I think you get the idea.

What the heck is with this trope? No one ever talks about it, but it’s everywhere.

And if we extend it to how many anime have a weird Catholic-garbed religious sect as the evil villains in at least one arc, then pretty much every shonen and isekai would now be on the list.

As a Christian, I find it pretty creepy when elements related to my religion are turned into some weird cult thing on a show. I hear that most people in Japan don’t even know much about the Church, they just think the outfits look cool, and the symbolism. Ever wonder why so many anime villains wear crosses? Yeah… I don’t get it.

Personally, I really think the writers could bother to look it up before using it, a lot of Christians watch this stuff. Why be insensitive?

Not that Christianity being villainized is anything to be surprised at.

As I noticed this trope, I began to wonder why it was so prevalent. My sister told me that in a video about Christianity in Japan, people admitted that it was rare, and that people there are often afraid of religion. They might acknowledge Buddhism a little, but they don’t have deep beliefs in it.

Kind of how many people treat yoga and other Eastern teachings and practices. Like a buffet you can pick and choose from.

I think that it’s interesting that anime comes from a culture of not very serious religion, and it itself often treats God as the problem, an obstacle in the way of harmony, peace, and our own human happiness.

It makes me kind of sad actually. God is so different to me.

Many people, even Christians, think of God as distant, angry, or cruel. Unwilling to help us. Thwarting our plans, etc.

God does do that.

But I don’t think most people stay away from God because they think He’s cruel.

I don’t think, at the heart of anime and possible Japan, if one could know that from its media, is truly the fear of a cruel God.

What the real fear seems to be is of the all consuming nature of God.

We, in general, are okay with dipping our toes into religion. Maybe trying church once in a while, maybe reading a little about it, maybe praying to God, maybe not any specific god.

Even Christians live distant from God. Many religions teach that God or the gods are distant on purpose, only a few enlightened people can get close to them, only a few should. The rest of us should just live ordinary, good lives.

Generally, only the best and brightest of us humans can approach the gods. See Greek Mythology, Egyptian Mythology, any mythology…

Christianity shocks people, and scares them, by bringing God too close. It slaps you in the face with it, and pins you down till you squirm.

We’re told that God searches the hearts of men.

David even prays for God to strike his enemies in the face, a very personal kind of blow compared to just “smite them”.

And the story of the Israelites at Mount Sinai, when they begged Moses to go speak to God for them, and they wouldn’t themselves, they were afraid they would die.

God’s might and power and holiness are what scare us the most about Him.

In my own life, I grew up knowing God was good, but the sheer greatness of Him frightened me. I thought God would control me in a way I would hate, and I could never escape it, so I hid from Him. (Sounds like an anime to me.)

Later I found out God doesn’t force us to do things in that way. Not when it comes to accepting Him.

God can be puzzling to people. Eastern religion tries to reconcile the good and evil in the world by saying there must be an equal amount for balance.

The God of the Bible can seem like a collection of contradictions. He is Just, He is Merciful. He is a still small voice, he is in a whirlwind. The list goes on. But always, He is Good.

It’s overwhelming all right.

I understand fearing God. But I don’t know how anyone could believe God was defeatable.

The arrogance of anime is astounding. Especially since it comes with a lot of very wimpy messages.

They go to great lengths to kill the god characters…and ironically, they kill their own moral standing.

If you think about it, if God is real, or the gods are real, and they are in control of the world…then if you kill them, you’ve kind of doomed us all.

I find many endings to promising animes unsatisfying. They can’t commit to a message. Naruto most infuriatingly ended the show still never answering Pain’s excellent question about how he intended to heal the world.

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I think the writers must know deep down it’d be ludicrous to say one human could do all that, but they have cut off their only viable option, a Divine Being… so they are forced to just leave the question open ended.

Think about how many anime end with “basically everything went on the same way it always had” That’s not an ending. That’s… stalling.

Characters usually talk like this “I think maybe this…” or “I have hope that somehow…” Like, they never know anything. They never have logic, or an argument, or proof. Just blind hope in… nothing. They hope for hope’s sake.

It just doesn’t work for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy many shows, and I like the more pure characters and romances. Those can be done decently well.

But the moment any major statement about the world is made, it’s weak.

The reason is obvious. Without God, there is just no moral standard anyone can possible be made to conform to. Maybe you can just pick one out of thin air (I doubt it) but you have no right to complain if other people disagree with you. Meaning Unity is virtually impossible.

People complain about organized religion without realizing it is the only reason society can even exist. Religion decides morals, morals decide the justice system, and no society of 5 people, let alone 5 million, can survive without a justice system.

Without God, what gives our lives meaning? There’s a sadly high suicide rate in Asia, Japan is no exception.

A lot of anime try to encourage kids not to kill themselves over failed work or grades or goals, to keep trying.

As if trying ever cured depression.

I appreciate the effort, but it’s hopeless. It’ll never work.

The ones that say love is the reason to hang in there are much closer to the truth.

I’ve mentioned that I deal with depression, sometimes suicidal thoughts. Though, I more of mean, I wonder why I don’t give up. I wonder what keeps me going. When so many people take that way out, what gives me any reason to believe I won’t or can’t?

It’s weird, but my dad often got depressed over work and feeling useless, so anime can be very familiar to me. And it make me sad the same way my dad would make me sad. It causes me to wonder, what will my answer be to the same failures and disappointments? Will it be his, or will I have a better one.

Slowly, God is helping me answer that question.

The more I learn, the less I think the “Try harder” message will work.

And the less the “killing God” message seems like anything but emotional suicide to me.

I know I can’t assume Japanese people really think that way.

But, if they did, I would feel very sorry for them. It’s all about being strong enough yourself to face life, not needing anyone, not needing help. Definitely not needing God.

(The implied message often is, no one will be there to help you anyway.)

But what other foundation could someone find their worth in? God made you, God put you here for a reason.

In the end, trying to protect yourself from God is like trying not to breathe. It’s the very thing you need to live, and you can’t get away from it.

God can be like water. Try to block him out and the pressure will build up until something explodes. But accept Him, and it’s like going into a pool. At first it’s a shock, but then it’s a relief.

Anyway, that’s enough for now, maybe I’ll explore this more in the future. Until then, stay honest–Natasha.