for him.

I started to notice it in April. When it took a friend of mine from this earth much too early and so of course, it was too close to my own life again not to notice. Yet, its been taking people from this earth since the beginning.  It manages to snake its way into the minds of teenagers, mothers, pastors, celebrities… no one has been left unaffected. As affecting as it is, as devastating as its venom is in our minds, it is flourishing under our society.  Slowly it moves, subtle and cunning, so subtle that we do not see it until its too late.

It’s voice tells us there’s nothing we can do to rid ourselves of it; it whispers to us of its immortality, its power, and its immutability. It convinces us of its unbreakable strength while it coils around our minds and slowly starts to smother our hope and joy. Day by day, moment by moment, its robs us of our life. Until we can’t remember why we are alive and why we keep fighting through each day.

But its only TRUE power lies in its anonymity; in its ability to be unseen and unnamed. Its venom may be deadly, but it enters our minds slowly and in such small quantities that it goes unnoticed. Like a deadly cobra, it coils slowly as well; ever so slowly tightening its grasp on our minds and into our hearts until it seems too late to slip away from it.

Do you know of what I speak? Have you heard its voice now that you read this? Do you recognize the coils of it around your own heart and mind?

Its venom is depression, exhaustion, anxiety, discontentment, restlessness, and anger. This creatures name is suicide.

I’m sick of seeing it all around me, of it going unnamed and thriving off the “shame” its very name implies. There is nothing shameful about struggling with life, or about hurting or pain. Our world shames it because it doesn’t know how to fix it, because this deadly creature instills a fear in even the bravest and most intelligent of us. The older I get the more I realize that there are not many people in our world who haven’t been affected by suicide in some way; whether directly or indirectly. Anonymity has an inherent power behind it and I refuse to give this power to suicide anymore.

Suicide sucks. Suicidal thoughts suck. Depression, anxiety, shame, anger… it all SUCKS. But I know that the day a friend helped me see that my suicidal thoughts did not make me less of a person and it did not make me a human who deserved life LESS, I suddenly had a power OVER those thoughts. Suicidal thoughts are only powerful because for some reason, its become shameful in our society to admit we struggle with the thought of living sometimes. Why? Why is that shameful? Because God created us and we should be okay with every experience we have in life because were His creation? Ya’ll, that’s ridiculous. Just because we are God’s creation does not mean we don’t feel, that pain doesn’t affect us, and that trials won’t come. In fact, being God’s crowning creation means we feel more, that pain affects us deeply because we know there is more and there is better. It also means that trials will come, but we are equipped to defeat these trials.

Suicide is not weak, it is not cowardice, and it is not unbeatable. However, the more we shove it under the carpet or the more we whisper its name in fear, the more power it gains.

Suicide and the thoughts and pain and scars that accompany it, is beatable. It starts with us saying its name without fear, without shame. The next time you come across someone who struggles with the thought of living another day, don’t get awkward, don’t get weird! Acknowledge their bravery for being there in that moment, empower them to shake off the coils of that snake in their mind.

In the end, we cannot decide whether someone grabs suicide by the head and disentangles it from their mind, but we can help them know they are not alone, that they are deserving of a fulfilling life and no matter how long they wrestle with that snake in their mind, they are capable and strong to the very end…no matter how that end comes.

I’d also like to put it out there… just because someone has suicidal thoughts (and maybe they never quite go away) does not mean that person cannot live a fulfilling life anyway. In my own life, I stopped trying to get rid of my suicidal thoughts and instead focused on LIVING. Every now and then, those thoughts try to come slithering back into my mind but now they have lost much of their power and I don’t fault myself for having these thoughts. Though these thoughts come, they do not stay and they do not change the way I view myself or the way I then live. This is not to undermine the difficulty of such thoughts but to maybe give someone hope that though they feel overwhelming right now, and though you may feel like you’re treading water in the ocean of life, there is power dwelling within those limbs of yours that will get you ashore. Keep treading that water, and when you’re ready, swim for shore. You’re stronger than you know. I promise you that.

Signing off for now, but with much love,

Katelyn.

P.S. If you’ve run out of strength and need a push towards shore, message your safe person. Tell them you need a push. And if you don’t have a safe person, I offer myself to you. I am not perfect, and I am not a trained professional, but I love you and I want you to live. ❤

Advertisements

black sheep, stand.

I haven’t written in a long time. I’ve barely journaled. I used to feel guilty when I would realize this fact. For some reason, something in me used to think that if I wasn’t journaling or wasn’t writing, that I wasn’t “growing” in my gift, or wasn’t practicing in the skill as I should be. I would shame myself, and in reality, this only made it so I kept feeling incapable of picking up the pen. I’ve realized lately that there really is no “supposed to” in life. There is no one way to live creatively, or to hone a gift. With millions of self improvement speakers and writers out there, I’m sure some of you instinctually disagree with this statement, and thats okay because a year ago, I too would’ve disagreed.

After spending years trying to live as I “was suppose to”, I felt disconnected from every human, at odds with my own self, and my relationship with God was nonexistent. I thought to myself, “I’m unhappy living a life that everyone else wants me to live, maybe I’ll try something different”. So I tried living by the moment, making my decisions by what I wanted at that exact moment, thinking of no one else but myself. No one ever told me there was a middle ground. A way to live a life full of seeking out and fulfilling your dreams and your wants without walking over every person to get there. No one ever told me my heart mattered and that I didn’t have to give up myself in order to live a good life.

I’ve always been a bit of a black sheep. And as I’ve gotten older, I’m convinced that this idea of being a black sheep comes more from your own thoughts of yourself than it does others thoughts of you. I’ve never really felt like I fit in, and for the large part of my existence, I thought I was too much for everyone around me. Of course, this may have been true for some people in my life (especially when I look back at my college days) but in general, none of these statements are true when it comes to my actual friends and family. And as I’ve searched and discovered that my thoughts are, often, lying to me, I’ve also discovered that I can be a black sheep and still completely belong amongst the “white sheep” around me.

I still feel “too” deeply, I still become obsessive over “stupid” things (like disney plot lines, figuring out peoples Hogwarts household, unicorns, and being nice to people in the customer service industry) and I still believe that cussing can be good for the soul (sorry not sorry). But instead of suppressing these things about me, I’ve finally found the people who love me for them. As well as realized that a lot of my friends always loved me for these things, and more, but I couldn’t see it. Its amazing what accepting yourself and loving yourself does to your other relationships. If I know that I’m worth loving and I am lovable, I no longer question if those around me love me too. (side note: of course I still have my moments of doubt and overall questioning, but this post is speaking to a habitual mindset versus moments in our life.)

Like I said, I used to feel guilty when I didn’t live my life like those around me but I’ve worked hard to be happy with who I am and love the good and bad that makes me who I am. I’ll be creative when I want to be, I’ll be silly when I want to be, I’ll let myself cry when I need to, and I’ll speak up even when I don’t want to. There’s a middle ground to living a life everyone else wants you to and to living solely for yourself, but I think the key to this middle ground is actually learning to love yourself and who you are.

The black sheep stand out the most you know. So stop hiding amongst the white sheep and be who you were meant to be.

disjointed and disfigured thoughts at 12:30 am.

she’d been defined all her life. different identities swirl in her rearview mirror.

prescription bottle caps unscrewed, empty glass bottles, cold beds, and bloody wrists.

her rearview mirror is dark and foggy, clouded and shattered. the pieces threaten to cut at her skin, they tear at her clothes.

twenty six years of life, twenty six years of being told who she is, of where to go, of all the things wrong, of all the the things right. why does everyone else’s opinion matter so much?

in love with her own potential, unable to make it a reality.

tears flow, eyes swell, breathe catches. she longs for adventures and dreams of hope.

the keys are in her hand. its her choice.

she rips off the rearview mirror and presses on the gas.

Emma Bear.

You know those “crazy” dog moms that kinda inwardly make you cringe? The ones that get shirts printed with pictures of their dogs face on it? Or the moms that constantly have dog hair on them and don’t seem to care about lint rollers because they are just constantly covered in hair? Or how about the moms that always seem to answer social invites with, “yeah but can my dog come?”

Well Hi! I’m that dog mom! Okay so the above paragraph may be exaggerated a bit but thats only because my dog, Emma, doesn’t like social invites…or people really. She likes me and thats about it. She prefers to stay at home, curled up on the couch with absolutely no new or strange people around her. She does love to leave her hair literally EVERYWHERE and trust me when I say that I have used about 10 lint rollers in one month. Yep. I have tried pretty much everything actually; lint rollers, tape, vacuuming every day, kicking her off the bed every 5 minutes, hair spraying my pants, dramatically running away from Emma when I’ve just put black leggings on… you name it, I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work. Her hair just magically appears on my clothing in mass quantities. There seems to be a certain point in “dog mama” life, where you just stop caring. When a friend or stranger inevitably says to you “Hey, you, um, have some hair on your pants…” You simply respond, “Yeah. I have a dog.” *Shoulder shrug*

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

So why am I writing this post? Well let me give you some context. I recently moved Emma from San Bernardino County, California to Humboldt County, California; one of the driest climates to one of the wettest. To say the move has been difficult for her would be a bit of an understatement. Emma is eight years old, and from the time that my sibling rescued her as a puppy, she has always been anxious, untrusting, and shy. She is also goofy, playful, talkative, loving, and smart. But it is the anxious side of her that has been on display since moving her to Humboldt. I knew it would be a big transition for her and I had planned everything I could beforehand to make it as easy as I could, but unfortunately she just has never acclimated to life in Humboldt and it has started to take a toll on her. So the decision has been made to move her back to San Bernardino County to live with my mom again and this dog mama’s heart is breaking.

This post won’t interest everyone, and thats okay, but for me, I simply wanted to write about Emma. Because its Emma that has revealed to me the depths of Abba’s love for me. Abba has used one of his creations, a goofy and anxious little pup, to show me love and loyalty and companionship on days and through years that I was unable to receive it from anyone else. In the days after my suicide attempt, some 4 years ago, there were days I didn’t get out of bed or have any social interaction with anyone. But Emma was there. I spent my days watching Netflix with her by my side, her little body warming my side and continually keeping me company. In those days, my thoughts for myself were only full of shame, hate, and disgust… I look back and realize that if it wasn’t for Emma, I don’t think much would’ve changed in my life. Dogs don’t see the shame, or the disgust or all the reasons you hate yourself; they see their owner and their person and they love them. Abba loved me through my dog, because I was so full of hurt and hate that I, at this time, couldn’t receive love if I knew it was actually coming from Him. So Emma loved me, because thats what dogs do. They love you, without questions, without doubting you or without restraint, they love you. God was and is faithful enough to know how to love.

IMG_3098

Now a days, I have a different mind and different eyes. I am happy and not the same person I was 4 years ago… and Emma is still here. She plays with me, she talks to me (I swear, you have to see it to know, but she talks), she gives me kisses, and she cuddles with me (and somehow knows when I’ve reached my limit of cuddling). I’ve always joked with my parents that Emma was “made for me” but I don’t think I’m actually joking. I think God knew I would need an Emma. A puppy that didn’t trust everyone, but wholeheartedly loved and trusted me. A dog that knew my mind and heart so well she knew when to cuddle me and when to just be at the end of the bed instead. A pup that, because she literally has her own anxiety issues, seemed to understand mine.

You may think I’m being dramatic, or overly sensitive. That’s fine. It happens. But just know that I know God’s love more now than I did 4 years ago, and all because of a dog. So is giving her up an easy thing to do? Hell to the no. But Emma took care of me for so long, its only fair that she gets taken care of even better now. So off to a warmer and drier winter Emma will go, with a huge backyard, lots of squirrels to chase, and a Nana that loves her just as much as I do. I’ll cry a lot over her for a bit, just giving everyone fair warning. But maybe, just maybe, God knows something I don’t and maybe, its just possible, that I’m finally in a season that I don’t need Emma anymore; even though I want her with me forever.

That’s all for now. Bye Friends.

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.
✌🏽
🦄🦄🦄🦄🦄

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.