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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
2 thoughts on “Hanging in There.”
Hang in there, things will definitely get better with faith and time. I believe that one of the core tenants of Christianity is understanding that we are all broken, every single one of us, and I’m sure you know that too. All we can do is put our faith in our Heavenly Father and know that He will come through in the end. Also oftentimes I believe that God breaks us down in order to build us back up, stronger than before.
I like to think of that Footprints in the Sand poem for difficult times.
When I was in highschool, I had chronic appendicitis. I had it 5 times, each time maybe a month apart from the last. And each time, I didn’t know what it was. I’d spend the entire night throwing up and rocking back and forth curled in a ball, sometimes hyperventilating, until I’d pass out after maybe 8 hours of pain due to exhaustion. And when I’d wake up the next day, I’d feel fine. On the fifth and final time I had appendicitis, the only time I had it during the day, I lost my composure and lashed out at God.
I ended up going to the hospital that day, and the head surgeon of the hospital just happened to be available, with no appointments for the rest of the night. After the surgery, he told my dad that my appendix had actually shrunk down to half the size of a regular appendix, in an unusual fashion. It was also covered in scar tissue, and really it’s amazing that it never burst.
I firmly believe that God saved me, probably several times, from dying via a burst appendix. Not only that, but when I finally realized I had to go to the hospital, he took care of me there too. Remembering how I felt at that time, during the one moment where in a fit of anger I questioned God, keeps me focused now. It took me years after the surgery to even realize just how much God was helping me along at the time. And realizing that really changed me, and my perspective to this day.
So yeah, I’d just say to keep your faith and know that God is probably protecting you from more than you realize, and building you up for the better. I think most people who don’t have Jesus in their lives would have broken already if they had gone through what you have gone through.
I’ll keep you in my prayers!
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Thank you so much for the kind words.
Your story actually sounds like what’s happened to me a few times. Sometimes God answers prayer with the pain getting worse so that we’ll go seek help and find out what the real problem is.
I don’t always like it, but in the end it’s better to know the truth because usually a problem can be fixed much faster if you find the source.