Category Archives: Medium

I’m Coming Out. My Confession.

As a child, I remember thinking differently than my peers. I felt like an outsider. Like I was on the peripheral looking in at life happening around me. Sort of like watching a movie.

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

By the time I reached junior high school, it worsened. I had confided in a school friend who would listen to me for hours while I lamented as tears ran down my face like a faucet.

I somehow had the wherewithal at fourteen to find a therapist which I paid for with my allowance I had earned by ironing my father’s shirts. She had diagnosed me with dysthymia (persistent mild depression). I saw her weekly until she fell asleep in one of our sessions.

In my late teens, I remember things becoming more pronounced. One day I would wake up full of energy and be ready to take on the world, and the next, I would feel utterly hopeless and depressed. There was no explanation for these extreme shifts in mood.

The fluctuating moods were accompanied by my loyal companions; fear, dread, worry and guilt. I didn’t know at the time I was struggling with anxiety until I had experienced my first panic attack in my late twenties.

By that time, I had become impulsive and spontaneous. I would feel a surge of energy pulsate through my body like electricity which made me feel invincible. There was so much I wanted to do and accomplish that I wouldn’t sleep.

I took unnecessary risks and made bad decisions that if it wasn’t for the grace of God, I’m sure things would have ended badly.

I was enthusiastic, adventurous and lived for the thrill of excitement. Everything I did was over the top, exaggerated and extreme. I flirted with danger because I was addicted to the adrenaline rush and loved the exhilarating feeling it gave me.

In this state, everything seemed alive and vibrant. Life was good.

Until it wasn’t…

It was only a matter of time until the dreaded crash came. I went from being high to drowning in a sea of hopelessness and sinking into a quicksand of despair. Everything around me became devoid of color; a still life black and white photo; grey, lifeless and dull.

The rollercoaster high’s and low’s kept happening, combined with an ever present restlessness and gnawing irritation, like stew simmering in a crockpot or a rumbling car motor that never seems to shut off or a dormant volcano brewing beneath the earth’s surface.

I lived like this for years not knowing why.

Fifteen years ago, things came to a head after giving birth to my eldest son. I had suffered from postpartum depression. My son was colic and would cry all night. I wasn’t getting any sleep and worked a stressful job. Between the lack of sleep and stress, I began to spiral. It was then that a therapist suggested I get evaluated by a psychiatrist.

After an hour and a half hour of what felt like an interrogation, I received the verdict. Her words shot out like fists punching my face.

I didn’t believe her, so I went for a second opinion and was given the same diagnosis.

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After years of hiding behind the shame and living in silence, I decided to come out.

I’m a Christian who suffers with chronic pain and physical and mental illness. And I am not alone. There’s plenty of people out there struggling like me, who lurk in the shadows because of shame and fear of being found out.

They vacillate between denying their illness, pretending away their illness or praying away their illness, thus refusing treatment they so desperately need.

Instead, they self-medicate by either drinking, drugging, eating, spending or sexing.

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I’m speaking specifically to Christians right now, if you are struggling with mental illness, don’t allow the church or anyone from church tell you mental illness is a spiritual problem because it isn’t. Please don’t listen to anyone who tells you, you lack faith or you must have unconfessed sin or that you aren’t praying or fasting enough.

Mental illness is not a spiritual condition, but a medical one that needs to be treated like diabetes or cancer.

Please contact your local National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and get support. You don’t need to suffer in silence or struggle alone.

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Silence is the result of stigma and judgment by family members, friends, co-workers, church members, and society in general who aren’t educated and misunderstand, misinterpret, and marginalize those who suffer from mental illness or any invisible illness.

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Truthfully, these past two years have been the most difficult for me. My life has completely changed and it’s been hard for me to reconcile and adjust to. Believe it or not, it’s taken me over 15 years to finally accept my diagnoses.

I didn’t want to come out because most people walking around react to words like bi-polar, OCD or schizophrenia as a joke or they associate it with characters from “Psycho,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” or “A Clockwork Orange.”

This is why I’ve kept it hidden for so long, but now I no longer want to because there’s too many people suffering in silence. For this reason, I chose to come out and join the tribe of other voices advocating and fighting against the stigma.

Critique versus Criticism

One of the things that happens as a writer is you are subject to other people’s comments and opinions. Those opinions can either be positive or negative, constructive or destructive.

If you want to be a writer, there is no way around the critique process if you want to grow and improve.

However, I’ve discovered there is a significant difference between critique and criticism.

Courtesy of Creative Commons ~ NiKol

The Difference between Critique and Criticism*

  • Criticism finds fault/Critique looks at structure
  • Criticism looks for what’s lacking/Critique finds what’s working
  • Criticism condemns what it doesn’t understand/Critique asks for clarification
  • Criticism is spoken with a cruel wit and sarcastic tongue/Critique’s voice is kind, honest, and objective
  • Criticism is negative/Critique is positive (even about what isn’t working)
  • Criticism is vague and general/Critique is concrete and specific
  • Criticism has no sense of humor/Critique insists on laughter, too
  • Criticism looks for flaws in the writer as well as the writing/Critique addresses only what is on the page

I have experienced both. Thankfully, the critiques I have received thus far have been helpful whereas criticism has had the opposite effect.

Critiquing is positive and constructive while criticizing is negative and counterproductive. We must be thoughtful in our approach in critiquing others. We must be mindful of the spirit behind what we say as well as how we say it.

We all have opinions. We all have our likes and dislikes. However, we must be responsible as writers when we are critiquing people’s work. We must be able to step back and read the work from an objective standpoint.

We also have to keep in mind there are ways to communicate and get our points across without being curt, mean or snarky.

I cringe when I think of novice writers who possess talent and have potential but give up because of receiving a nasty critique. It shouldn’t happen.

The whole purpose of critiquing is to help the writer along in developing their story, not to tear it down or criticize it.

Critiquing is a skill that every writer should be required to learn how to do properly and effectively.

*Taken from Writing Alone, Writing Together; A Guide for Writers and Writing Groups by Judy Reeves

A Slow Death

As I gazed at the landscape that was once plush green, thoughts ricocheted like bullets in my mind.

I wondered how leaves changed from being green to brown, orange, red and yellow.

They change and transform by a slow death.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

The result is from the breakdown of chlorophyll, due to the changes in the length of daylight and temperature. The leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their splendor.

God is the master artist weaving a beautiful tapestry in nature with the ebb and flow of leaves, seasons, tides, births and deaths.

Watching the leaves turn reminds me of God’s power and my fragility, His strength and my weakness, His immortality and my mortality.

In reality, we are all fallen leaves, dying a slow death.

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:17