mental health awareness month

It's Amazing what God CAN Do with Our Brokenness and Why Our Next Generation Deserves a Spiritual Solution

I got this at a Women's Retreat a few weeks back. Thank you Angela Bryant for leading us!

I got this at a Women's Retreat a few weeks back. Thank you Angela Bryant for leading us!

7 years.

I was seven years old when my parents got divorced. I was 31 when I began these last 7 years of life in recovery.

I got to choose. Either I was going to keep walking as the victim on the inside of the loss I'd had as a child - escaping with my drugs of choice - food, alcohol, overexercise - or I was going to find the courage to change. In one instant I got to choose to be victory or defeat. In one moment, I heard God's voice calling me to a new life and I chose to believe. I may have been a victim as a child to a change I couldn't control. But as a grown woman, I could take control of my own life and choices. I could stop reacting by running away (literally and figuratively).

 I could stop the cycle and get the help.

I'm glad today - BEYOND glad, I got the help.

I am a victor in Christ. I'm an overcomer. Where I am weak, HE is strong. Where WE are weak and can't find our way - HE can be the light...

***

My heart aches for those who are broken on the inside - especially those of our next generation who are deep in the trenches of peer and life pressure with access to substances at every corner. I'm glad to take this opportunity to mark Mental Health Awareness month to share my testimony of getting help and to point out the importance of THEIR mental health. They are our future.

No matter how much we may have materially or resourcefully, or how much our parents love us - we can still hurt at the depths of our soul. There are a lot of kids out there, and grown adults who still struggle with past trauma, with feelings of brokenness, low self-esteem, insecurity and fear that occurred from things like divorce, loss, toxic homes and more. Without another way the quick-fix escape from reality becomes alcohol, drugs, food, cutting, and the like, but they don't HAVE to go there. And if they GO there, they don't have to stay there. They have a choice. But it's up to those of us who've walked through the pain to share the hope.

I am blessed to have found a spiritual program at the young age of 31. It is the program that pulled me out of my spiritual emptiness. It's the program that pulled me out of my destructive thinking, behaviors, and broken heart. It's the program that showed me the way to WALK this life, instead of escape from it. Most importantly -  it is the program of 12 step that opened the door for a new relationship with God that I never knew was possible. It's the program that gave me the space for self-seeking so that God could remove the hurt and the pain in my heart to bring peace.  

I truly believe the solution to all the struggles our next generation face in unhealthy behaviors could be solved by a spiritual solution. Not everyone belongs in a 12-step program, but everyone - especially every child deserves a spiritual solution. I know you and I can be part of that solution. 

 

The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of man; it searches out his inmost being.
— Proverbs 20:27

Another thing the program and my relationship with God did was bring me to the Word of God which brings LIFE. Today I find abundance in it and I just wanted to share one of the stories that was brought to me today as I looked up the significance of the number 7 in the Bible and found one of my favorites. I hope it speaks to you....

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.
— Matthew 15:29-39, NIV

This story is proof that he heals the BROKEN hearted (like you and me). Not only that - he wants to take care of us. He wants to provide for us. Here are the Disciples going, "We've only got 7 loaves," and he's saying, "That's okay," and just does what only he can do with the little they had. The story is proof, that he can do MUCH with the little we might have. Maybe it's a mustard seed of faith. Maybe it's something in us that we know we can't do enough with - but we TRUST that HE can do, because with 7 loaves he can feed 4000.

***

A little Musical Inspiration

There are two songs that speak to me right now in this stage of my sobriety. I hope you'll watch the videos below and they will speak to you.

The first one is called "Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)", by Hillsong and it is one of those whose lyrics often play in my mind:

"All these pieces broken and scattered in mercy gathered mended and whole. Empty-handed but not forsaken. I've been set free. I've been set free. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see. Oh I can see you now. I can see the love in your eyes. Laying yourself down. Raising up the broken to life....So take this heart Lord, I'll be your vessel - the world to see - your life in me."

It reminds me of the verse that has been speaking so profoundly to me in Romans 12:1-2. "Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, please and perfect will."

The second, "Through All of It" by Colton Dixon - I heard last night on the way to a meeting and the words were just so profound. Most poignant were these, "I have won and I have lost. I got it right sometimes, but sometimes I did not. Life's been a journey. I've seen joy. I've seen regret. Oh and YOU have been my God through all of it."

The last one came on while I was writing and it sums it all up and it's called "Thank you Jesus" by Hillsong. "You've given me life. You've opened my eyes. I love you Lord. I love you Lord. You've entered my heart. You've set me apart. I love you Lord. I love you Lord."

Thank you Jesus.

 

And this is one final shot I had to share to mark the day. This is a picture of from my high school graduation at Gwynedd Mercy Academy in Gwynedd Valley, PA. It is one of my favorites because it's a shot of my two favorite angels always with me on my shoulder - Dad to the right of me, Grandma Cass to the left of me (who was sober when she died). I know they can't read this but today I'm especially grateful for the walks they walked and the doors they opened to my recovery. Forever grateful. Forever changed.

And this is one final shot I had to share to mark the day. This is a picture of from my high school graduation at Gwynedd Mercy Academy in Gwynedd Valley, PA. It is one of my favorites because it's a shot of my two favorite angels always with me on my shoulder - Dad to the right of me, Grandma Cass to the left of me (who was sober when she died). I know they can't read this but today I'm especially grateful for the walks they walked and the doors they opened to my recovery. Forever grateful. Forever changed.




Willingness: An Important Factor in Finding Peace with Your Mental Health

South Bend River Lookout adjusted size.jpg

This is the fourth post in a series from the rest of the week on finding your healthy within by Meredith Terpeluk.

Yesterday, I wrote about how important it is to practice acceptance in moments when we don't have much control over our circumstances - or in my case, my body after surgery. I also mentioned in the blog that I have gained weight since with this injury.

Yuk, right?

Well, here's the deal. I've got a secret for you.....

I know we all have that instinct that tells us, "Oh no your weight is up! Drop it!"

But the truth is we need to look at this in a completely different way.

Instead of taking the weight gain as an opportunity to beat ourselves up and fail another diet - we need to step back, take a breathe and realize the other opportunity we have.

We can actually take this and go within to look at what else might be going on, like with our mental health.

But it takes WILLINGNESS to let go of that "Losing the weight is the answer," so we can get to "I must go within." 

There are many reasons why this is such an important shift. One of them IS so you don't have to be a lifetime member of the yo-yo dieters club.

But another one is so you can look at EVERY aspect of yourself, including your mental health and find more lasting health. 

Instead of letting your instinct take you RIGHT to that diet, you can say, "Okay, what's going on in my mind."

"What's been happening in my life and how have I been reacting to it?"

You don't have to BEAT your head over the stick or have a panic attack with it. Y

You can approach yourself with love and compassion and look within.

WILLINGNESS to look beyond the weight.

WILLINGNESS to go beneath the surface.

#WILLINGNESS

So, people wonder if I'm some sort of trainer, food police or the ultimate healthy person because of the name of my brand.

Far from it.

I work on the inner journey, guiding people to a place where they can find healing and solutions right there - instead of keeping their perspective so small on the surface. I don't "fix" them, I meet them where they are, and guide them to the next doorway of action, whatever that may be.

So in order to GET to that place of being OKAY with looking at that most feared place - our mental health - we have to be WILLING.

Let me explain a little bit more....

My journey to awareness of my mental health has been a long one - that started with counseling here and there as a kid after my parents divorce, but didn't really kick in as necessary to treat until regular panic attacks. I found a therapist who led me in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and changed my life. What I didn't know was that was just one little aspect we were approaching, almost a surface thing that was caused by a bunch of other internal things going on with my mind, my brain itself, my thoughts, and my feelings. I don't know where I'd be today if I hadn't faced that mess up there in my mind.

I want to share just a few of those things here - the things I would NEVER have known if I hadn't looked at the mental aspect. Maybe they will help you approach it with a little more self-love.

  1. That panic attacks aren't something you can overcome with willpower.
  2. That beyond the mental health issues, there may be a behavior issue that is blocking you from healing - like addiction.
  3. That addiction is a disease of the mind and body and will tell you that you don't have a disease when you do in order to keep you stuck in it - no matter whether it's a drug or a behavior.
  4. That the huge stigma that eating disorders are purely something you can see on the surface is completely wrong. It hides more than most people know.
  5. Eating Disorders aren't about eating as much as our thinking.
  6. Anxiety, Depression or any other mental thing CAN be genetic. In some cases you can address it with behaviors but sometimes it DOES take other measures.
  7. ADD does NOT mean you are less than or broken. You are creative (which is a good thing), and the way your mind functions is just different than the linear way the world approaches things.
  8. Willpower wil NOT cure whatever may be going on in your head like a diet.
  9. Positive thinking is one thing. But a spiritual journey with a power greater than you.
  10. Mental Health is completely ignored in many cases of obesity or other physical health issues - and it could absolutely be the biggest factor. We MUST consider it at every level of care and not judge those people who might struggle with it. No one, absolutely NO ONE has a perfect mind.
  11. Physical change - good or bad - can be hugely impact by your mental health. Don't ignore it.
  12. I am a life coach who helps people change their lives, but in the end I'm a woman who knows that when all else fails, even the way you are thinking - it is the Lord who is there for us. He is the one who reminds me through the word that HE is bigger than my thoughts and understanding.

I could write about 100 things I've learned. But what I can tell you is this:

Each thing I've learned makes me more WIlLING to look at what's going on from the mental aspect.

Let me give you an example:

With Dad's passing it was a year after he was gone when I finally realized I may have something else going on mentally.

With my surgery on my shoulder? It was almost a month into recovery that I realized my mental health was playing a factor.

I never thought about it before surgery, because I was focused on the procedure itself - and so was the doctor. But when I was laying there one day in physical therapy, letting my PT move my shoulder in painful ways, she said something about how long the journey is. Thankfully  I have to remind myself of that every single day of my life.

But somehow it made me sad. I walked out of there, googled "surgery and depression" and BINGO, there were the articles of people sharing the struggles about how down they were. Finding these showed me I wasn't alone and made me realize, "Duh - of course!!" 

A surgeon does surgery. A therapist does therapy. A physical therapist helps with the healing process. But no one is there to help with the inner healing process of getting healthy again or at least is on the "team" of people who inform patients of this factor on the journey. 

I went to my next session, looked around and realized how much more work these PTs probably do than they are paid to do. Then I thought about all the people getting physical therapy who may have mental health stuff going on and have no idea how much it affects their recovery. Of course, then I think, "There is a need for a Healthy Voice in surgery recovery!" (Of course - I'd love to write a book right now, but that's why I'm writing a blog.)

Then yesterday I go in for my six week checkup with the doc. He tells me how I'm positive and the recovery is long but I've got a good attitude and attitude is everything with this.

Nice compliment!

But also I knew it wasn't a trait that has come naturally.

Yes, I had a father who was an incredibly positive influence on my life.

He believed that I could do anything in life I wanted. He planted a seed for my approach to life - a huge one.

But I also had something his inspiration could never give me - and that was this....

The WILLINGNESS (at the age of 31) to finally look beyond the weight fix and go beneath the surface. With a lot of tools and people walking the journey with me - I've gotten there. Dad was one of the people who helped me start that healing process, and I'm grateful today to be on a spiritual journey where I always feel like he's still with me. But the journey of grief is a whole other topic for another time. 

***

My hope with this blog is that anyone who may need to address their mental health finds some courage within to face it. I also hope that anyone that has ever has surgery (of any kind) may find this blog somehow and realize they are not alone and that the mental health IS a piece of the puzzle. 

If I had the money for a national advertising campaign, I'd design a billboard saying this:

Pay Attention to Your Mental Health if you want to be HEALTHY FOR LIFE!

- Brought to you by Your Healthy Voice :)

Lol

Tune in tomorrow for a blog on the emotional aspect and the thing you might need to address it. In the meantime, check out the rest of the series from this week.