What is normal?

The last two weeks have been pretty good. Some days I almost felt “normal” again. But then I’m not sure if I really know what “normal” feels like. The reason I don’t know is because the change came so gradually. I can’t really look back and pinpoint a time when I stopped having energy or when my mental health started declining. When I start trying I realize some of it goes back pretty far.

Back to eighth grade when I decided to lose weight. I did lost weight. But skipping lunch or eating just a granola bar and yogurt wasn’t probably the best idea.

Back 5 or 6 years when I had a spell of no energy. I started taking B vitamins and that seemed to mostly take care of the problem.

Back to when I worked an office job 4 days a week. Since I was sitting all day, I had to fight against gaining weight. So, what did I eat for lunch? Most days a granola bar and yogurt, which took about ten minutes to eat; then I could go on a walk for the rest of my lunch break. Then at the end of the day I would have a sugar low so I’d have to eat a candy bar to get my sugar back up so I could drive home from work. 

And, I’m sure the list could go on. But I’ll get on with the story.

I hesitate to even write about my health problems because I’m sure everyone will be like “Hey, you need to try this product,” or “This is what you should be doing.” And I don’t tell my story to bring pity to myself. I share it to help bring encouragement to those who may be facing similar struggles.

The other day I was sharing with one of my friends about how the last couple weeks have been. I was telling her how I decided I need to take time each day to walk or work out, even if it is just for ten minutes. I was exclaiming over the fact of actually having the energy to desire to do this. She wondered how I ever made it teaching school when I had no energy.

I said, “I don’t know how I did it.” Mostly by God’s strength. By taking one day at a time, one moment at a time. Looking back now it is kinda a fog. It’s like I knew things were bad, but I didn’t really realize how bad at the time. I knew I wasn’t the teacher I wanted to be. I didn’t feel well most of the time. I had headaches a lot, stomach troubles, back pain, and no energy. Some days I had to admit to my students I didn’t feel well because I just didn’t feel well enough to play at recess.

I’m not sure when it all started. I had headaches some the fall before, but then they mostly went away. I did have stomach struggles last school year. Also I developed a pain in my lower left back. And till I went home to Virginia in the spring I had a pain in my heel. I had no idea why I was having these issues. I really didn’t want to spend the money for the chiropractor last spring so I hoped that once school was out for the summer I would be able to relax and the pain would go away. But it was not to be.

My summer was good but super busy. I felt like I never really had time to recuperate from the previous school year. Till the end of summer the pain in my heel did go away. When I got back to Colorado in the fall I was not really feeling ready for another school year. But there was no choice as I was already signed on for the job. I went to the chiropractor and got several treatments for my back. It seemed to help, but not totally take care of the problem. I soon came to discover that the root cause seemed to be stress. Anytime I was under a lot of stress, the pain in my back would flare up. I decided that is also what had caused my heel problem. And I figure, most of my stomach problems too.

All fall I never really felt on top of my school work. In fact, it felt on top of me. I felt like I had no life. I did school all day till almost 6 in the evening. Then we came home and had supper; and after supper it was back to school work. And since it was late till that got done, I didn’t do any other projects but just went to bed. Any time the other girls wanted to do something, there I would be dragging my schoolbooks along so I could get my checking done. Or else, I would be fretting and couldn’t really enjoy myself because I knew I had work waiting on me. I felt like a workaholic. To get away from it I would stay up at night and watch something on YouTube just to give me a break from reality. But that wasn’t really helpful as it made me lose sleep and then I couldn’t function properly.

I had a student who advised me to relax and enjoy life. But I couldn’t figure out how. How could I when I had all this school work to do? I couldn’t remember how I had managed to functioned before.

In November I realized I was in a terrible pit of despair and made the initial step toward trying to get out. But my schoolwork didn’t vanish and I still had to figure out how to juggle life. Till Christmas break came I was exhausted. I was so tired I couldn’t even keep my words straight when I tried to teach classes. My brain was a jumble and things just wouldn’t connect. As terrible as it sounds, I wasn’t even excited about Christmas or about getting to go see my family. All I wanted was to go to bed and sleep for about a week. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

I did have a good Christmas vacation with my family in VA and was able to take some time to relax.

I still felt very overwhelmed at times over the next several months, but I think it has gradually been getting better. I’ve been trying to step back from my school work a bit and not let it control my life. I feel that my student had some very good advice about relaxing and taking time to enjoy life.

Something I decided a little more recently is to try to start each day with worship and praise of the Almighty God. Through the Bible App on my phone I can access a lot of different devotional plans. The last ten days or so I did one called “10,000 Reasons.” I’m excited to start another one. It definitely seems to help my day flow better to start it with a focus of worship.

Another thing I have realized is that when other people annoy me or say something against me, I need to pray for them. They may be going through a rough time which is causing them to act or react they way they are. As a rather insecure person, I tend to take things very personally and become even more insecure. But asking God to bless the person who has hurt me has helped me in releasing these hurts and becoming more secure in Christ. 

And sometimes the hurt is totally unintentional. Like when someone ask you about some plans for later in the week because they know you “tend to get overwhelmed.” And you know they mean well, but you can tell they totally don’t understand what it is like to be completely and utterly overwhelmed. The way they come across makes you feel like they think it is ridiculous or stupid that you can’t handle life.

Or when someone accuses you of being secretive when the only reason you’ve been quiet is because  you are so overwhelmed by life that your brain is a scramble. I recently saw a quote that I felt fit perfectly: “When she is quiet, there is a reason. She is sorting through all the chaos in her head…”

The last two weeks have given me hope that I am moving forward and progressing.

Thanks to all my friends who pray for me! I know this has been a huge help in my spiritual journey. I am blessed by many amazing friends.

If you made it this far, congratulations! I know this was a lot to get through and it felt a bit scrambled even to my brain. I have so many thoughts rolling around in my head but it is hard for me to get them to come together into something sensible and readable. I feel like there is so much more I could say, but I’m not sure how to fit it all in.

worship

FEAR

So, some of you may have seen my request for prayer on Facebook the other week. You may have been wondering why I was struggling with fear. Well, here is the story.

The afternoon of February 21 seemed like any normal afternoon as I sat at my desk doing checking. Then, just like that, the electricity went off and everything was dark. There was not a storm, so I was guessing someone hit a pole and messed up the electric line. I thought maybe I would hear sirens, but never did. But there was still enough light coming in through my windows to continue checking. I talked to Connie on the phone as I checked. We got done with our conversation and hung up. The lights still weren’t on, but I kept checking.

Around 5:00 a strange blue-green astro minivan with a dent in the side pulled around behind the school (the side where my classroom is). I didn’t freak out right away as it is not totally unusual for people to stop by the church/school, thinking they will find the pastor or secretary there. But they didn’t park by my door. They pulled up by the dumpster. I thought, They must be going to throw some trash in our dumpster. I wasn’t very impressed by the thought, but it seemed harmless enough.

But, no. This blonde-haired women with brown leggings gets out of the front passenger door and heads toward our storage shed. I watched for a little but she went out of my sight behind the school building. I waited for a little and then thought, It seems a little strange. Maybe I had better go check what is going on. I locked my outside door and then stealthily walked across the gym to the doors looking out the direction she had gone. But, she was nowhere to be seen. Well, at least she’s not trying to steal out of the storage shed. I thought, Maybe she went over to Jen’s classroom. I had better go check with Jen. But, no. Jen had seen the van drive in but nothing more. Not sure what else to do I headed back to my classroom.

When I got back to my classroom. I pulled the curtain over the door window as stealthily as I could, hoping they hadn’t paid attention to whether it was closed or open when they drove in. Then I proceeded to sneakily peer out around my curtain. I thought maybe I would see the women come back to the vehicle or some action of some kind. But I couldn’t see any action. Maybe she had went back to the vehicle while I was walking through the gym. I tried to get back to my checking, but it was rather hard to concentrate.

Every so often I would sneak a peak out the window to see what was happening. I eventually decided someone was sitting in the front passenger seat because I saw just the slightest movement every now and then. I also saw someone, possibly the driver, moving around—possibly from the back to the front. Of course my imagination was going wild. What was he doing back there? Did they have some type of hostage? The van really didn’t look that reputable. But, if they were doing something wrong, why did they park where they could be seen from the road? They could easily have parked behind the building. But where did the woman go?? I wondered if I should call the police. I have a friend whose dad is a police officer, but I had neither her number or her dad’s number.

The electricity came on between 5:10 and 5:15. Good, maybe that will scare them off, I thought. Maybe when they realize someone is actually here, they will leave. No such luck. The whole time I was praying to God asking for protection. I wasn’t really that scared for myself as Jen was there and all the school doors were locked and the people had made no point of trying to come in. But still, it was rather nerve wracking not knowing what in the world they were up to!

Around 5:20 Jen came over to my classroom and was ready to leave. We weren’t sure what to do. Our car was parked out back of my classroom where this strange van was. We didn’t really feel comfortable walking out and exposing ourselves or with leaving and having them know the building was unattended. We decided to call Arlin (our CO dad) and see what his advice was.

Arlin said that no, he didn’t think we should leave. We should either call the police or call Brian, as he lives close. Jen decided we should call Brian. He said he would be right over. By this time it was 5:30. Although it didn’t take Brian but 10 minutes or so to get there, it felt like an eternity. Meanwhile Jen got a phone call.

Brian got there and the van was gone! I guess while Jen was on the phone they must have left and we didn’t hear them. I really wished I would have been watching out the window instead of trying to do checking! It would have been nice to know why they were there, but I was thankful at the same time. Thankful that Brian hadn’t had to confront them and perhaps endanger himself.

So, we left school and headed into Olathe. I watched carefully to see if I saw that van lurking anywhere watching us. But I saw nothing unusual. We stopped at the grocery store and then headed home for supper.

For some reason that night, FEAR gripped me like it never has before. I was fearful of going to sleep for fear of having nightmares. But thankfully, through the prayers of others and myself, God gave me peace and I slept just fine. But I still had to fight some fear the next couple days. I kept my outside classroom door locked and when we drove to and from school I kept my eyes pealed for a blue-green astro minivan with a dent just in front of the right rear wheel.

I kinda wished we would have just called the police. Then maybe I wouldn’t have to wonder what they were doing there.

If it happened again I would handle it a bit differently, but I sure hope it never does happen again!!