First, I want to say that I always write and blog when I am happy, and things are going well. As a blogger, I always want to be truthful, transparent, intentional, and upfront. Most days, I am upbeat and ready to conquer the world. There are also “One of Those Days.” Well, I am having one of those “Other of Those Days.”
I am having one of those days where I want to crawl back into bed and have a good cry.
I am having one of those days where everything seems to go wrong.
Woke up late.
Trash all over the yard from the animals.
Back up at the gate
I left my glasses at home.
I am having one of those days where right now, I don’t want to look on the bright side.
I am having one of those days where although it is sunny outside I feel like it is raining.
I am having one of those days where life does not seem fair.
I am having one of those days where I question my past, and every decision I have made.
I am having one of those days where I question my purpose and my existence.
I am having one of those days where nothing at all seems clear or make sense.
I am having one of those days where I don’t want to be strong.
I am having one of those days where I feel that I am not good enough.
I am having one of those days where my dark safe place starts to look good again.
I am having one of those days where I think, “What is the true meaning of life.”
I am having one of those days where old thoughts and fears want to creep back in my head.
I am having one of those days where even though I am having “One of Those Days,” I can’t reside here.
Even though I am having one of those days, I won’t allow the enemy to disrupt my progress.
Even though I am having one of those days, I won’t give the enemy any victory over my day.
Even though I am having one of those days, I won’t fall back into the enemy trap of depression.
Even though I am having one of those days, I can see past the enemy distractions and illusions.
Even though I am having one of these days, I DO know where my help and strength comes from.
Even though I am having one of these days, I am here, surviving, thriving, and I am living.
Even though he may have gotten a moment, the battle is still won by Jesus. Therefore, I am still winning!
For me, restoration means reestablishingand discoveringwho I am outside ofwho I was. I am learning to find my own way with my rules. I can tell you in the past three years I have made tons and tons of mistakes. There were so many things I was not aware of or had never done. You must realize I went from my grandmother’s home to my husband’s house. My life was completely turned upside down in every single area! There are things I wish I knew, there are things I wish I hadn’t done, and many there are many things that I have done that I am very proud of.But…
For a while, I did whatever I wanted because I seriously was not planning on living for long. (Don’t be surprised or shocked... depression and grief are real, and I was suffering!) But then after hours of prayer and therapy, God convincedme of my worth on my own and thatI was NOT going anywhere! He said He had somethings I needed to do; He wasnotfinishwith me. Now I needed to get my act together! I do have some major cleaning up in my life to do, but I know that I am not alone!
My life now is nothing like I thought it would be. Nothing worked out the way I wanted or the way I planned. However, my life is not bad, it’s not easy, it’spretty good, but I am also learning every day how to move forward with the hand I have been given. God has placed some extraordinary people in my life that pray for me, check on me, and will continue to love me in spite of my defects, flaws, and imperfections.
They are my…
Let me leave you with this: Mostlywe mustknow that God will loveus, forgiveus, never leaveus, and guideusno matter whatwedo.He will always be there for us. Believe me; it took me a while to get back to this frame of mind and way of thinking.
What is left now… I continue to move forward, learn from my mistakes, and operate in the attitude of restoration. Meaning I will not be hard on myself forliving and makingmistakes. I am thankful to be alive, breathing, walking, testimony ofHISgreat love for me. I am a mess,but,HEwill take this mess and turn it into agreatmessage!
My experience with therapy has been nothing but awesome and positive. God had led me to an amazing therapist, which I connected with, and I started my journey to healing and wellness.
Remember those stages of grief I told you about earlier, I have hit them all and I sometimes bounce back and forth between them depending on the triggers or what is going on in my life at the time. In February of 2017, when I sat down with my therapist the first thing she said was, “Lolita, tell me what is going on with you.” I started to tell her all the things that had been going on in my life thus far. After about 30 minutes and many Kleenex later, I finally let her speak. She said, “Lolita, I first want you to know that you have done nothing wrong and God is always with you.” I knew that because she first acknowledged God before anything else I knew that I was in the right place and that God had led me to the right therapist.
I started out seeing my therapist twice a month. I had a lot of things I needed to work out and my emotions, my moods, and my thoughts were all over the place. My therapist was able to give me the tools I needed to combat and battle depression. After attending a few sessions, I knew that there was no way would I be able to do this on my own. Yes, I did pray and I prayed a lot. My village was praying for me and getting therapy was the answer to our prayers. However, I had to get off my butt and seek help instead of sinking deeper and deeper into depression. God would not let me give up, so off to therapy I went.
Session after session I felt myself becoming stronger and coping with my emotions. I was able to be a strong mother for my daughters and others who were grieving along with us. I remember after one of my sessions I thought to myself, “I am going to make it,” “The enemy will NOT win,” “I will survive this,” “Victory is mine because I have victory in JESUS.”
It was because of my therapy that I am writing this blog. It is because of therapy I am alive to write this blog! I wanted others to know that therapy is not a bad thing. Therapy is not the taboo or this evil that has been wrongly categorized in our community for years. Therapy is very healthy and I believe that for me it is essential to my self-care.
I have been in therapy for over two years now. By now, monthly sessions have been crucial to my overall well-being. My head is clearer, I can think straight, and my therapist is helping me to work on future goals, now that I know that I still have a future. Yes, I believe the Lord always had a plan for me but I also know that I could not see past my own hurt, pain, misery, destruction and whatever negative word you can insert, to accept and embrace HIS plan.
Therapy for me is a gateway to help me see past any negative thoughts or perceptions I have about my life or myself. This has enabled me to see the bright and prosperous future that the Lord has intended for me. Remember you are stronger than you think you are. Do not be afraid to seek the help you need. Make that appointment with a therapist today. You should be afraid if you do not seek help and end up staying in the same depressive state you may be currently experiencing, and THAT is NOT healthy!
It is not about “telling your business,” or “keeping things in the house”. It is about making sure you are mentally healthy. It is about taking care of yourself. It is about self-motivation, self-care, and self-preservation. It is about learning how to breathe again and discovering that joy again in your life.
Purging the Toxins Out of My Mind & Finding Joy Again
May 20, 2019
When you are finding it hard to take your next breath, you have to find a way to move forward and breathe again. Finding the RIGHT therapist was the next move for me.
Finding the Right Therapist
Finding the right therapist is a process and it is not an easy process. You should meet and talk with them to get a feel for their methods and to see if they are the right fit for you. If you can find the right therapist the first time around then you are blessed! I talked with a few therapist before I found the right person. They were all very nice people, but I prayed for God to show me the right one. I was very meticulous, so I also had a few criteria’s that I was looking for in a therapist.
I needed someone objective who could listen.
I needed someone who would teach practical solutions and help me clear my head.
I needed someone to help me find my courage to fight and not to fear going forward with my life.
I needed someone to help me find my way back to my source of power.
I needed someone who would respect my belief system.
I needed someone to help me pick up the shattered and fracture pieces of what was left of my life.
A faithful God believing, Bible believing Christian.
“Listen to advice and accept discipline, at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:20-21)
My faith is very important to me, so I know I needed a therapist I could learn to trust, who was like-minded and has a similar belief system as I do. I knew that God was the source and power of my strength, but the grief and pain in my mind was not allowing me to connect. It is as if you know your cell phone is dying and you need to find a charger for your brand of phone. However, you cannot use any charger, you have to find the right charger for your phone, or it is not going to work. This is why I was having such a hard time dealing with my struggles in my life. I was plugging in to grief, pain, misery, and to an enemy that not only did not care about me but also hated me with every ounce of his being! Who is the source nothing but calamity, chaos, and confusion!
I needed to reconnect to the source of my strength.
I needed to reconnect to the Lord.
What I was not going to do was:
I was NOT going to entertain anyone that went against the word of God.
I was NOT going to entertain anyone that went against my belief in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
I was NOT going to entertain anyone that challenged my faith as a believer.
I was not going to compromise or settle because I knew that my soul would not be satisfied until I had gotten my connection to God back.
Specializes in grief therapy and the processes of grief
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
How can a therapist give me the proper tool to deal with my grief without having the proper training in grief therapy? My girls and I were deeply grieving and dealing with anxiety regarding our future. I was dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. We were broken hearted and our spirits were crushed. We needed someone who was going to be able to deal with every spectrum of our grieving process. In my own research, as I looked for a therapist I noticed many standards that classified grief. According to Psych Central, there are five stages of grief:
Denial and isolation
“People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.”(Psych Central)
However, I think that I more related to the article from Proactive Change, which stated, “This is not a mechanistic model — the stages do not occur the same way for all people; they can last very little time, or a lot of time; and they can be inter-related.”(Proactive Change) These are the seven stages of grief that they list:
Shock or Disbelief
Acceptance and Hope
I know that some people do not hit all the stages of grief but I know that I went/going through them all and not in this order.
I will go into my experience with this later but this site gives you the breakdown of each stage if you want to read more.
My therapist Dr. Jacqueline Pfeiffer has been helping my daughters and myself on all these aspects of this grief journey/process and it has changed my life.
My daughters HAD to be comfortable with the therapist as well
It was important for the continuity of our care that my girls saw the same therapist. She does not discuss our issues with the other, but she use our sessions to help us as a family unit. That is why I needed for each of them to see the therapist as well and get their input and their thoughts. God placed an awesome therapist in our lives. We all liked her and seemed to open up to her easily. It is very important for me to pray for God to send me the right therapist. If you cannot open up to your therapist about what is going on in your head or be able to tell them your deepest darkest secrets, then you are wasting theirs and your time. Therapy only works if you put your all into the sessions.
My daughters were dealing with their own set of issues and they needed someone other than mom to talk about what they were going through. I lost my husband but my daughters lost their Daddy. They will have to deal with the fact that he will not be available for all of their firsts that will continue happened in their lives. This is something that they could not nor could I navigate on our own. We needed help and sound advice on how we could take the next steps to the new chapter of our life.
All those stages of grief we experienced and we still experience are the steps we need to take toward our healing process. We took a giant leap of faith in trusting someone, a stranger at first, with the sanity of our minds, and the fragile contents of what was left our hearts.
Once all the key elements were in order and in place, we were able to go forward with our healing and rejuvenation process.
Purging the Toxins Out of My Mind & Finding Joy Again
May 10, 2019 Good Afternoon Lovelies!!
Here is part 3 of Purging my Life. Sorry for the long break, my life got very busy. Between church and my sorority, I did not have time to blog, but I did write and capture thoughts of how I was feeling. I am continuing in this journey of purging my life to my mental health. I think this blog comes in handy as May is Mental Health Month, and if you have been reading my blog you know, I am a big huge advocate of therapy and taking care of our mental health. Remember if you even think you need to talk to a therapist, do it anyway.
I know my last post was super long so I am going to break this one up because it is getting long as I write.
You have to know that during this time of my Spiritual renewal I was in therapy. Michael transitioned on October 25, 2016 and I went into therapy in January 2017. This was not so hard for me. I have already talked about the need for therapy when you are depressed, near depression, or even thinking about depression. I am and I have always been an advocate for therapy! I believe that God has people he has gifted in this area in dealing with our minds and how we think and act.
I can only speak for me, but I needed someone to help me sort through all the pain, anger, sadness and grief I was experiencing so I could SEE and KNOW that God was still with me.
The pain I was feeling He was feeling as well. Yes, prayer changes things and prayer works. I did pray, however, how could I sincerely pray to God when I was holding Him responsible for not answering my prayer, the prayers of many, and for “taking away” someone I loved? I could not hear from Him because I was closed off. I did not want to hear from Him because I was angry and hurt. I went through all the motions but my mind was everywhere but on God. My prayers were empty prayers that derived from my traditional needs and not from my heart. It was like a muscle reaction, something I always did.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
What is Grief?
According to Merriam-Webster, “Deep and poignant distress caused by of as if by bereavement; a cause of such suffering; an unfortunate outcome” (3Mar2019)
Greif through the ages:
Latin – gravis-to weight down; gravare- to make heavy
Old French – grever– to burden, afflict, grief – oppress, injustice or misfortune
English – grief – mental suffering & deep sorrow (Loveliveson.com)
For me grief is the painful, emotional, agonizing, loving, heartfelt way to show how much you care for a person that has transitioned out of this life. If you grieve for a person you truly care of loved that person.
I believe how you grieve depends on the person you are grieving for…
My mother Betty Florence (Shaw) Williams died when I was very young from Cervical Cancer when I was 5. Sadly, I do not remember much about her, just few memoires here and there. However, I do remember grieving for her especially in my teen years where every girl wants her mother. Therefore, that grief was situational. My grief for my mom depended on the situation. Some of her Birthdays and many Mothers days were hard and people could be so insensitive. I have heard everything from “Well you did not know her” to “It has been long enough for you to be over it”
My grief for my Grandfather and Grandmothers, Lister Shaw, Hunter Florence (Heath) Shaw, Mary (Hayes) Williams and my Mother in Law Hattie Law (She passed at 55 in 2002), was deeper because I had a relationship with them, but you always expect them to pass before you do.
I cannot imagine the grief of a parent and I am not going to compare it hers, but I did witness it first hand when my mother passed I experienced the aftermath of my Grandmother’s grief. She never got over my mother’s death. She coped with it the best way she could and some ways were not healthy. She would drink her sorrows away, so I lived with a grandmother/caregiver who was an alcoholic. Of course, this had an adverse effect on my life growing up because I never outlived my mother’s shadow and I had to help my grandmother deal with her grief. I knew that I needed help because; I was not going to put myself, or my daughters through this nightmare.
The grief of a spouse at a young age is also an unbearable pain. You expect to spend your life together, you have hopes, dreams for a future, and then in an instant, it is gone and you are left with nothing but a heart that was broken into a million pieces and a broken fractured future. I knew I had to pick up the pieces of my life, and try to put it back together again. This is where I needed therapy. I could not pray, drink, or ignore these feelings away although I tried nothing worked. Therefore, I HAD to seek help but I had to find the right therapist.
Here is part 2 of Purging my Life. As I continue to write about my process, I am gaining more clarification on my purpose, and learning about who I am today. God is still molding me, making me into what he wants me to become. I am still a work in progress.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 )
Spiritual Purge is like the detoxification of my soul. When you go through a traumatic experience, you start to question every aspect of your life. My connection with the Lord is the most important connection I will ever have, yet I was questioning God’s importance in my life due to what I thought he did not do for my family and me. satan made a home for me and he was working in the darkness of my depression. He was trying to keep me in despair. I had to get rid of him; he needed to be purged from my life!
I tried to look for the positive’s aspects of my life, but I could not find any. Yes, I did have many positives in my life. However, I was so clouded with grief that I could not see the goodness of God in my life. I was choosing to focus on the darkness, the negative, my grief, and pain.
Now do not get me wrong I am not saying that we should not experience our grief and pain, but I am saying it is how we choose to go through it. As long as I was enabling the darkness in my life, it was taking over every aspect of my life. My lack of joy and happiness was centered on that fact I was allowing the darkness to rule.
I think that in the depth of our darkness is where depression finds its roots. I was enabling my residence in darkness and despair. This is also where Satan, the enemy of our soul dwells. If he could keep me in this darkness where my focus was only on my grief and pain, he had control over my emotion and thoughts.
He was the cause of my suicidal thoughts.
He was the cause of my darkness and despair.
He was the cause of the pain I was feeling.
He was the cause of my negative feelings
But, I gave him access.
But, I gave him power over me.
I allowed him to keep me in the darkness!
I allowed him to push God further and further away.
I allowed his voice to dominate God’s voice.
I chose not to pray!
I chose not to have faith and hope in God!
I chose to focus on my grief and only that!
Things had to change in my spiritual walk, or I was not going to survive!
The not so funny thing about this darkness and depression was that everyone thought I was fine! I was strong and resilient, but I was screaming and dying on the inside!
I could have been easily one of those scenarios where if I had decided to commit suicide people would have said, “She seemed so together and doing so well” No one knew the real pain and turmoil I was going through!
I have always told my teens that they could get through any adversity no matter how hard it was because God was always with them! Here I was going through the biggest fight of my life and I could not heed my own words!
I was a hypocrite!
I was a living walking facade!
I was a FAKE!
One night I prayed and cried out to God, “I can’t do this anymore!” I wanted this pain to end, but God grabbed hold of me. You see, he NEVER left me. He was by my side, even in the darkness, in the pain, counteracting the enemy’s voice.
When the enemy was telling me:
I was useless.
I was dumb and I would never finish my degree!
I cannot run this house by myself and do the things that Michael used to do.
My daughters do not respect me the way they respected him.
They would be better off without me!
“You are nothing without him!”
“God does not even want you!”
To say that I was devastated would be an understatement! I was broken!!!
My heart was shattered into a million pieces!!
However, God intervened and told me he still had great things planned for me. My work was not done, and my journey is not complete! God was there with His hand outstretched for me to take it. I not only saw my babies; I saw the people who love me, and I knew I had a choice to make!
I HAD to make a choice to trust God and live!
Set your mind on things that are above and not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)
I had to purposely set my mind and focus on the things of God. Through a lot of crying, deliberation (with God) and myself, praying, and therapy, I was able to put my focus on the Lord, and not on my circumstance. I was still sad, lonely, broken, and sometimes angry but those are normal feelings when you are going through grief, and I had to go through them, and I am still going through them. Regardless of the deep hole of despair, I was living in, I chose to focus on the positive things in my life.
I had lost focus of the prize.
I had lost focus of God.
I had lost focus of His love for me.
When my focus changed, (Thank you JESUS) I was able to kick the enemy to the curb and focus my concentration on my healing and moving my life forward to the next chapter.
Where the enemy had me convinced, that God had not just forgotten about me but that He had thrown me away, I chose to step out on all the faith I had! I had a foundation that was set long before tragedy had struck and turned my life upside down. I believe that God knew this day was coming and he prepared my family and me! From the time that Michael was diagnosed, we took a stand of FAITH!
“And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.” Zechariah 13:9
It may not have been the outcome that we wanted, but it was the one that occurred. I was already equipped with the strength and courage to handle this, but not on my own. I had to plug into the source of my strength, and courage. I had to reconnect with the One who created me and knows me like no other! I had to find my focused again. I had to reconnect with my Lord! It was time! Because I had a voice and a story to tell and it was time to use it!
It has been a wonderful process and it has helped my daughters and myself tremendously. I recommend it for anyone whether you think you need it or not. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. We should never neglect it.
There was an article in Psychology Today that talks about how some African Americans view therapy. A 2008 study, by Alvidrez et al., found that, “African Americans, who were already dealing with mental health issues felt that to talk about their problems with an outsider (i.e. therapist) may be viewed as airings one’s dirty laundry, and even a quarter of those consumers felt that discussions about mental illness would not be appropriate even among family.” The article goes on to explain that some are embarrassed about being labeled one of “those people” and this keeps them from getting the help that they need. The article talks about other concerns regarding the therapist themselves, the treatment process, and of course the cost and lack of insurance coverage.(Psychology Today, Nov 2011) (www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culturally-speaking/201111/why-african-americans-avoid-psychotherapy)
I am sure other ethnic groups have some of the same beliefs about therapy because of the growing rate of suicides in our nation, and I know in my home growing up and homes of others I have heard these phrases many times:
“What happens at home stays at home”
“Don’t put my business out in the streets”
“Nobody needs to know”
“WE can handle this”
“Just give it time, it will get better”
“This is a secret”
Well theses secrets are killing us. Depression, Grief, and Suicide is real and it is on only becoming more prevalent in our society.
You must realize that any type if mental illness in NOT a personal failure. Seeking the right counsel is imperative to our overall health! If anything is a right step forward to your own personal growth!
There are some judgmental people will say and did say, “Well you said are a Christians, just pray about it.” Yes, this is true, I am a Christian and I did pray about it but I truly believe that GOD placed my therapist in my life has a vessel to be used by GOD to pull me out my depressed state. I knew that, when was researching a therapist for myself, I knew that she had to be a Christian and have a love for God. Proverbs states, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”My therapist helped to pull me out of the dark place that I had been living in for months. She reassured me that GOD was not done with my yet and HE had a plan for me and that HE is with me and HE will always be with me and gave me practical guidelines on how to deal with my grieving process.
Therefore, when I hear that the suicide rate is up among active duty military, teens, and veterans I get alarmed. Why is this happening? What can we do to stop it? We have to check in on each other especially if you know someone has been dealing with difficulties in their lives.
Now with all of that being said, I can only speak from my own experience. When I heard about circumstances regarding the death of Christopher St. John, brought back to my remembrance where I was 2 years ago, and I could have slipped easily! However, God said to me in the midst of my despair… “You are stronger than this!” Yes, you had better believe I am still in therapy after almost 2 1/2 years. When I first started going to therapy after I loss Michael I went every other week, crying sobbing, but never kicking and screaming because I knew it was something I needed. I prayed for GOD to send me a Christian therapist who loves HIM as much, if not more than I did. I said, “if not more,” because at the time God and I were not seeing Eye to eye. I had many questions and I was very angry, sad, disappointed, and depressed. It was very hard for me to see God. I knew that He was there, and I still had a deep love for him.
Imagine if your parents and they love you more than their own life and you love them. You asked or you begged for something for months, and then when the day comes for you to get what you asked for… you get nothing.
Your sister asked your parents and got it.
Your brother asked your parents and got it!
Your friend from down the street asked your parents and got it!
Your parents never outright said you were going to get what you asked for you just considered their record and you knew you were going to get it, but you did not. How do you feel?
That is exactly how I felt. I did not love God any less, I did not hate Him, I did not stop believing in Him, I was just disappointed, for me that disappointment turned in to depression, desperation, and fear and once all of that set in I could not see anything ahead. I knew God had a reason and a plan for all that had taken place, but I could not see that and I felt there was no future for me just death. I prayed for God to help me. I did not want to leave my daughters, but I was too busy thinking about feeling and myself from all the pain. But I knew that God was stronger than what I was going through.
My PCM (Primary Care Manager) suggested that I see the on staff social worker. I saw him a couple of times, it helped a little, and he suggested that I seek out someone more long term. I told Him it had to be a Christian therapist. I saw a couple of therapists but no one I saw was the right person. There was one more on my list and I went to see here. At first, it was the typical visit. We sat down and she said tell me what has been going on (which is how she starts all of our sessions.) Well we get out the tissues and I start talking. There was something different when I started talking with her. When I finished talking, she said, “Lolita, first thing I want to tell you… God loves you and He is always with you”. I knew she was the right therapist for me. Now two years later it is like talking to an old friend once a month. She is helping me reevaluate my life and navigate the new life I was forced to live. Now it does not seem so forced I am discovering many things about me that I like and some I need to work on. I believed that the enemy would have loved to keep me my depressed little ball casted out to the darkness! But I knew that God made me STRONGER than anything that he tried to throw at me!
Therapists are here to help us. They have training and tool that can help us navigate what going on in our head. It is important to see the right therapist. You may have to see a few before you find the therapist that is right for you. Just as you did research to find your family doctor, or a surgeon, it is imperative that you do the same for your therapist.
Suicide is NEVER the answer!
Suicide is preventable, but everyone’s help is needed.