lbs. 

173. One hundred and seventy three. 
The number flashed in front of my eyes, the nurse said it out loud, and my insides began to scream. They screamed at the nurse for daring to say the number out loud for all to hear, screamed at myself for letting myself be this number, and screamed at my body for physically being 173 pounds heavy. 

This past year has been a year of conquering mental illness, learning how to become self sufficient, and simply loving myself well. This is all code though for things like, going off depression medication, dealing with thyroid issues, coping through migraines, and yet, still LIVING. 
This past year has been SO good and yet so hard. When it comes to my physical body, I try so hard to look in the mirror and see what God sees; to see the creation he made, he loves, and he set apart. But to be honest, most days I just see that 173 pounds. I wish desperately my meds and my thyroid issues weren’t effecting my body so strongly, and sometimes I sit in front of the mirror and I just cry. 
I don’t say all this to be pathetic or to make you feel sorry for me. In fact, that’s not what I want at all. I say this because I’ve learned, in this past year, how healing it can be to be transparent and honest. 
I have days, weeks even, where it’s almost easy to love my body and to see the beauty in my curves and extra chub. And then, I have weeks that I don’t see any beauty but I cling to the truth that I STILL AM BEAUTIFUL. 
I cling to the truth of who God tells me I am. On those days that I cry in front of my mirror, I desperately cling to the arms that God encircles around me. Because the one thing I will forever know, even in the midst of my own self doubt, is that Abba does not doubt and Abba does not change. He called his creation “good” and I am his creation. Therefore, when I feel ugly beyond hope, I will listen only to his voice. Because his voice is the one voice that NEVER lies. 
Today, when I stepped off that scale and everything within me screamed “UGLY” and “FAT”, I knew it was a lie. And that was enough, enough to know His truth, even if I couldn’t quite see it myself today.  
Now I look at those three pictures from three very different times in my life and realize that I love the girl in all three of them. But it’s that girl on the right that I want to learn to cherish and adore, and to see her beauty as God sees it. 
I hope you guys know how beautiful you are. No matter what the scale says, or what you’re going through, you’re worth so much. Praying God helps us all see our worth tonight.
✌🏽
🦄🦄🦄🦄🦄

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through the mud.

What does depression look like?

When people hear that I have struggled so deeply with depression and anxiety over the years, I hear many different responses. In some way though, every person asks this question.

“Well, what does that look like for you?” “Does that mean you spend a lot of time asleep?” “Oh you must need to eat better.”

There are so many ways that people try to ask about depression and they either don’t know how, or they are so ignorant that they ask harmful and hurtful questions. I used to get so offended and angry when I would hear people talk ignorantly about mental illness or when a rude question would be directed my way. (And I will forever advocate that the general population educate themselves about mental illness to help prevent ignorance on an issue that effects such a large number of people in the world!) However, I recently went through this experience of putting myself in my roommates shoes. I do not mean just my current roommate, but all former roommates as well. I tried to see myself from their perspective. I tried to remember each of the really bad days and some of the good days and instead of seeing it from my eyes, which I already know way too well, I put myself in their place. The result of this perspective shift was a heart change. Let me try to describe what I saw.

When I had only seen things in my own eyes, I saw a girl in the throes of a battle unseen; a girl deep in the mud, trudging along, barely managing to pull her feet from the mud. Step after step, she became more tired and felt more alone. And when I looked out around me, I had only ever seen cold, hard eyes. People who I perceived as choosing to be ignorant and completely cold to my struggle.

But when I switched perspectives, I saw a girl, broken and hurting. A girl who slept through her work schedule and then broke when she woke up without a job. A girl wasting away from not eating and drinking too much. A girl who had mastered the art of plastering on a smile before she opened the front door. And I, the roommate, didn’t know what to do. I saw a girl before me who, practically speaking, needed something like a “life coach”. She needed motivation and desire, the will to fight and to keep going. So I tried to give her that, only to be met with anger and hostility. Next I tried to feed her but the food was thrown in my face and I was accused of not knowing, of never understanding. I tried to love her, and tried to understand, but she shut down and would stop answering my texts, stopped responding. How do you love a person that doesn’t want to be loved?

Isn’t this the most ironic thing? All I wanted, during my really bad days, was to feel loved. But yet I would push away any real portrayal of love or of its actions. Oh how my victim mindset had me in chains!!

Friends, I used to get so angry for people not knowing, for people not understanding, and for people never “doing” the right thing. But I finally realized that I never communicated any of my needs! I never communicated what the “right thing” was! So I continued to function in this idea that no one cared about me, that I was a burden to everyone, and that I was better off alone. This mindset could not be more wrong! To be clear, there are people who choose to be ignorant and to continue to make actions based off that ignorance. I do not make excuses for these sort of people. No, I simply speak to those people who live side by side by those suffering with mental illness. Those wonderful, strong, and compassionate people who stay by our sides even though we yell, we cry, we throw things, and we accuse them of never understanding. When we trudge through our deepest mire, believing ourselves to be alone, they stand on the sidelines, cheering us on, doing their absolute best to help us live. They champion us daily, and even though it may not be exactly what we think we need, they are desperately trying.

So if you’re living with depression, anxiety, bipolar, or borderline (the list goes on) as I have, take a second to change your perspective. Look around at those who have always been there for you, even if they haven’t exactly known how or what was the best move to make, they love you SO much and they want nothing more than for you to succeed and for your smiles to be genuine and true. I can guarantee that they sometimes live to see you smile a true smile! Sometimes all they need to love you right is communication. Tell them what you need, tell them what is going through your head, tell them you need them. I bet their compassion will surprise you.

God has carried me through so many days but I would not be here without the people in my life that never left my side; the people God ordained to be in my life. Even when they didn’t understand what was going on in my head, even when I yelled at them or shut them out, they never left. So as I think back on harder days, thank you. Thank you for choosing to love me through the muddy days.

Katey

P.S. Shoutout to my sisters and my mom, to Teslan and Grace, to Megan, and to Lauren. You guys have never given up on me. Thank You.

 

boxes.

I love personality tests. Ask any of my close friends and they could easily tell you that I can talk for a good couple hours about Meyer’s Brigg personality types. They would know that I can list off all the different personality types and give you character references for each type as well. Its a bit ridiculous really. I’ve always loved people, and I’ve always loved knowing how to love people. When I was in college, this translated into me learning more about their “personality type” and loving them off some invented formula that came out of that. Not hard to guess that my friendships in college were therefore fake, dishonest, and short lived, huh? Through the years I’ve kept my fascination with the way that people can be defined by “extroverted” or “introverted”, “judge” or “perceiver”. And within this last week I’ve realized how narrow this mindset has been.

When a friend of mine acted completely outside of what, I had decided, her personality type was, I had this realization that people may be more than what I could possibly learn about them from a personality test. That, just maybe, I had been putting people in a box, expecting them to be loved and cared for in one way, giving them only what I thought they “needed” instead of ever actually listening to the human being in front of me about what they wanted. This hit home hard when another realization came to mind, that I have defined my own being by this idea of having to be “extroverted” or “introverted”, of having to fall into some definite type in order to be someone.

Earlier today, when sitting on the couch feeling shame over the fact that I was alone and had no one to hang out with, I literally caught myself thinking,

“you’re suppose to be this big ol’ extrovert Katey. You’re suppose to have friends around you all the time and look at you, alone, day after day. “

When in the world did I start believing that being extroverted is what made me, me? That being a certain number on the Meyers Brigg scale defined “Katelyn McLaughlin”? Don’t get me wrong, I love that people know me as an upbeat and friendly person, because I am that! But even the friendliest of people have lonely and sad days, and THATS OKAY. So when did I start telling myself that it wasn’t okay for me to hang out by myself? Just like I tried to define people by personality tests and zodiac signs, I defined my own self by these things. Isn’t that how it always works though? How you treat others is a direct result of how you’re treating yourself.

I know this is kind of all a rambling mess but as I look around me and see people who society would define as “social outcasts” or “extreme introverts” surrounded by more friends than any extrovert I know, I wonder if we will ever stop trying to define people by anything other than simply who God made them to be. (<–Run on sentence alert.) Generally speaking, I love to be around people, I love to love people, and I love to laugh obnoxiously loud. But also, I love taking long drives, watching and analyzing disney animated movies (and probably crying over something in it), and sleeping in really late; ALL BY MY-DANG-SELF.

I refuse to keep shaming myself for these things. For not being what society says I am sometimes, or for not being who I’ve told myself I am for so long, whilst ignoring my heart’s needs. We’re all humans who may lean towards certain generalizations, but that does not define us and our identities are not found in if we like to be around people all the time or if we run and hide when the doorbell rings. I personally am both of those things, I love people but I run and hide when the doorbell rings. It doesn’t make sense, but who cares?! Boxes may be fun to climb in, but I don’t want to live in them. Not anymore at least.

Signing Off,

Miss ranting and raving, full of passion but without a lot of wit, kind but sassy,

Katey.

 

be.

I finally got back on my yoga mat today. It was only for twenty minutes and boy was it was hard. Its been probably three months, at least, since I have done any form of yoga. I had shoved my mat back deep in the dimness of my closet. You know the places in your closet you put things you want to forget about? Yeah, I had put it there. I got it out the other day and put it on display in my room when I realized that I was starting to believe lies about my body. Lies that I am too large to do yoga, that I’ll never have the strength or the focus, or that I’ll never get the positions right, so why try. At the same time as these lies have been hitting me, I’ve been obsessing over how much weight I’ve gained this school year and how much bigger I look in pictures in comparison to what my brain actually thinks I look like.


With my journey through withdrawals from medications and coming off medications, it never even occurred to me (silly, I know) that one of the physical side effects would be weight gain. And I’m finding it hard to give myself grace. I just keep thinking that I should be fit and toned, skinny and in perfect health. And Im beginning to find that the longer I sit in the lie that “skinny” equals healthy, the sicker and LESS healthy I become. And as I sat on my mat today and listened to my body and asked God what I should be striving for I heard him answer me with simply this, “Nothing. Do not strive. Just be.” As I thought about it, I realized that the times that I not only love myself the most but also feel the healthiest are the periods in my life that I have done just that: been with God. When I walk with him, holding his hand, asking him questions, wanting to know what he thinks about me, my body (both spirit and physical) respond with peace.

Now to be clear, does this mean that I should be drinking the amount of coffee I do, eating fast food as often as I do and sitting on the couch all day? Probably not. But what matters here is my motivation. I don’t ever want to work out or eat a salad from a place of shame or striving but instead, from a place of peace and honor. In Beni Johnson’s book “Healthy and Free” she talks about this idea that health and fitness shouldn’t be because we’re always striving to be perfect but should be because we see ourselves as God created us and we want to honor and love our bodies.  She says,

“…I thought about the beauty of how God has designed us, and it gave me a greater incentive to want to take care of this temple that God has specifically given me to live in.”

I want to do yoga, drink more water, and eat healthier because my body deserves that and because I deserve to be at my healthiest. So one cup of water a time and one yoga session at a time, here’s to learning to just be with Abba.

 

Thanks for listening to my random thoughts friends. Happy health!

xoxo

 

Her Song

Each semester, my school assigns the students a semester project. This project can be anything from performing a song you wrote, to presenting a painting you painted! The point is that we express, in whatever form fits us best, the ways in which we have grown this semester. Well, I decided to write a short story about my dreams and my heart’s deepest desire. Its not horribly long, but I have never shared my writings before and I’m a little nervous. I hope you enjoy it and it moves your heart!

Her Song by Katey McLaughlin

Beth walked out into the field and saw them. They surrounded her. Some were huddled together, some sat separate from one another. There were thousands of them and as far as she could see, they just kept going. Women of all different shapes and sizes, races and nationalities. Young and old, they surrounded Beth. They were shrouded in darkness, covered in dirt and human excrement, shivering from head to toe as they crouched in the mud. But they didn’t move.

As Beth reached out towards the woman closest to her, she heard whispering. She froze, suddenly afraid she was interrupting some sort of gathering. She looked around for the voice… Where was the whispering coming from? As she began to listen she realized it was not just one voice, but thousands of tiny voices speaking in perfect unison. But where were the voices coming from? She moved closer to the woman next to her and tried to identify the source of the whispering. The woman’s lips were not moving and no noise was coming from her, but yet the whispering was close. She could feel it more than hear it now. Then, Beth saw it. A monstrously ugly creature no bigger than a dime, sat atop the woman’s ear whispering lie after lie into her mind and inevitably, her soul. As Beth continued to listened, she could hear there was a creature for each woman and they were all whispering lies. Like a demonic chant, they repeated it over and over until the woman was beaten and broken, unmoving in the mud. “Oh Abba. What do I do?”  She heard the simple reply, “Help her beloved.”

Beth turned to the woman on the other side of her and realized that it was a young girl she was friends with! “How did she get here?!” Beth reached out to touch her shoulder but the creature, suddenly volatile, doubled in size and attacked Beth’s hand. Pulling back in fear and pain, she looked down at her hand to see a deep cut spreading across the back of her thumb. Clutching her hand, Beth watched as the creature, having protected its prey, casually went back to spitting lies into the mind of the friend in front of Beth.  “Father, I don’t know what to do. How am I to help these woman?! They don’t even know I’m here with them.”

Beth realized that she was crying and as she felt Abba wipe her tears away and calm the pain in her hand, she heard him say to her, “Sing, beloved. Sing over them. Your song is louder than the lies.” So she knelt beside her friend, and began to sing. Softly, and so gently at first, her song came forth. It was a song of light, of hope, and of freedom. All around her, Beth heard the whispering stop, she felt the darkness disappear, and as she felt the returning sun warm her own skin, her friend looked up. Surprised eyes looked into Beth’s eyes and as Beth kept singing, her friend started singing with her. Beth watched in amazement as the dirt that was caked on her friend’s skin fell away to reveal skin covered with colorful brush strokes. As her friend’s song became louder and more bold, the artwork on her skin began to glow and pulse. With a sudden jolt, she jumped up and, laughing, she practically dragged Beth over to the next woman, who was starting to stand on her own. This woman was desperately scratching and tearing at the dirt on her body. Worried that she would unintentionally break her own skin in her desperation to remove the dirt, Beth enveloped her in a hug and as she pulled away, she looked down to see that all the dirt was simply falling off of the woman’s skin. Before Beth, stood a woman glowing and as the woman gave Beth the widest smile she’d ever seen, Beth took a step back and looked around. She listened to the song that was soaring through the field and realized that each woman, once they were awakened and cleansed then quickly ran to the nearest woman to help her! Beth took a glance around and saw hundreds of joyful, dancing women. Some were covered in beautiful, colorful brush strokes like her friend and some were sprouting lush and vibrant bouquets of flowers from their heads. Some women were surrounded by stars that twinkled and glowed brighter than they did at night! And some women were laughing and with each laugh out came all sorts of feathers or sparks of electricity. But ALL were helping one another, hugging each other, and singing the same song; that song of light, of hope, and of freedom.

Far away, Beth could see women still shrouded in darkness, but as she watched, the women were spreading like fire and the influence of the song was growing steadily. Beth sat down in a small field of wildflowers that had sprouted at her feet and wept for joy. “Thank you Abba. Thank you.”  Her ears were full of the sound of her song, of chains breaking, and women laughing.

 

“Wake up Katey! You’re gonna be late!” Forgetting my dream, I threw off my covers and rushed through my routine of getting ready in the morning. I grabbed my coffee and my keys and practically threw myself down the stairs. It wasn’t until I got in my car and grabbed my steering wheel that I noticed it. On the back of my thumb, about two inches long, was a recently made and healed cut. In a flash of colors and sounds, my dream came flooding back into my mind and I watched as the cut on my hand glowed and pulsed, and then disappeared. “Uh… Abba? What the…?” “Well beloved, where shall we go next?!”

 

peace 

There are some mornings you wake up and you cannot find the laughter. The tears come and you want to be able to see the humor, but instead you feel the anger. 

They’ve mentioned that a withdrawal symptom of cymbalta can be unreasonable anger. I didn’t believe that would happen to me. I tend to bounce back and forth between happiness or sadness. Anger has never really been my thing… However, this morning I woke up with dried tears on my face from a frustrating night of restless legs, brain zaps, intense body aches and headaches. I wasn’t able to sleep until at least 4a.m. and I woke up angry about it. 

I want nothing more than to run away. The idea of going through another day of these symptoms and pains seems hideously cruel to myself and to my body. Then I remember why I’m doing this. 

I’m doing this so the fog that has enveloped my mind for four years no longer exists. I’m doing this as a testimony to the strength and healing hand of God. I’m doing this because I want to know what true emotions are. And I’m doing this for my long term neurological and physical health. 

I know I talk often of laughter and joy, and I very much want to embrace that, but I think being honest about hard it can be is necessary as well. I cannot pretend that it is ALL laughter all the time. My eyes are tired, my soul longs for rest, and my body aches. 

“The Light of My Presence is shining upon you, in benedictions of peace. Let my Light shine in you; don’t dim it with worries or fears.”        -Jesus Calling (March 19)

I woke up angry. I woke up sad. But I’m struck by God’s faithfulness as I write this. I feel his presence and his peace. I am thankful that God’s peace is stable, unconditional, and everlasting. 

💛💛💛💛💛 

Katey

For your amusement…

I tend to cry a lot these days. The joke used to be that my mom was the one who was always “half a second from crying about anything”. I believe that joke now applies to me more. Most often, they aren’t sad tears, they’re more like, “how cute” tears. Or even “STOP SAYING NICE THINGS TO ME” tears. So here’s a little list of things I cried over in the last couple days (without exaggeration):

  • Cried when I saw a needy man and his dog on the side of the road in the rain. Specifically because the dog had no coat. 
  • Cried when I couldn’t get an online order to go through. (I realized I had the wrong card information… and then cried more.)
  • Cried while doing yoga. (Nope I don’t know why.)
  • Cried when my pastor talked about the first time his dad told him he was proud of him. 
  • Cried when my roommate told me I was a good friend. 
  • Cried when I couldn’t find the right shade of green for my coloring book. 

One thing I’m definitely learning through all this? How good and okay emotions are. Do I want to tear up with each passing emotion, literally? Not really. Do I? Yes. It’s like my body desperately needs a release from all the stimulus flowing through it right now, and so I cry. There’s a part of me that is embarrassed when it happens, and then I quickly just accept that it is happening. As each tear falls, I feel a sense of detox and release. 

For this season of my life, crying over the good, bad, and cute is acceptable. So if you see me crying, feel free to ask if I’m okay… just be prepared to laugh with me at the same time as the tears fall. 

Be brave friends. He is with you. 

Katey