More Than Coping

Mental Illness And The Christian

Mom’s Gut-Wrenching Post Reveals The Reality Of Parenting With Depression

Taken from the  Huffington Post  which is found   HERE.

A Missouri mom has seen immense support online after she opened up about her battle with anxiety and depression and how it’s affected her as a mother.

Cierra Fortner, a mom of two, wrote on Facebook on Jan. 20 that a cashier at Walmart recognized her as a regular customer and said she seemed to “have it all together” with her kids. In her post, Fortner wrote that she thanked the cashier, but had some details she wanted to clear up.

“I want her to know I battle a personality disorder every day with anxiety and depression mixed and I’m a two times [sic] suicide survivor,” she wrote.

Fortner told The Huffington Post her battle with anxiety and depression began after her mom passed away from melanoma in September 2010. After she started seeing a counselor and taking medication, she became pregnant with her first son in 2011 and experienced postpartum depression after he was born.

“After having him, I had my first suicide attempt as … postpartum depression was added in and I had an extremely rough time with it,” she told HuffPost. “I wasn’t diagnosed with the personality disorder until my second suicide attempt in April of 2014.”

The Missouri mom, who welcomed another son in April 2015, said her husband has been a “great help” through both her good and bad days. In her post, she wrote that she wanted the Walmart cashier she mentioned earlier and readers online to know how her battle with anxiety and depression affects her daily life.

“I want her to know that my son is late for school 3 out of 4 days because I regularly forget what day and time it is, despite the toddler size calendar in my kitchen,” she wrote. “I want her to know I have those ‘I’m losing my shit’ moments when I have to lock myself in the bathroom and cry.”

When asked why she decided to open up about her struggles on such a public platform, Fortner said she once felt like “the worst mom on the planet” and alone in her battle. Thanks to her support system, she soon discovered she wasn’t and wanted other parents to know there are people out there experiencing what they’re going through.

Fortner’s Facebook post has been shared more than 92,000 times as of Monday. She told HuffPost she’s heard from people from various cultures and countries, who appreciated her honesty and her way of taking down mental health stigma. With all of this attention, Fortner hopes parents reading her post know that it’s OK to ask for help. But most importantly, she hopes they take care of themselves.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff because in 10 years your kids won’t look back and remember that you let laundry go for a few days or that they had frozen pizza for a full week straight, but they will remember the amount of love that you had for them and how hard you tried.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free,
24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please
visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database
of resources.

Anxiety Drug Overdoses Have Quadrupled Over Last Two Decades, Study Finds

In dealing with the topic of mental illness quite often we learn of the importance of medication that allows people to live healthy and vibrant lives. This article points out the reality of drug overdoses due to anxiety medication. Allan

Taken from  NBC News   which is found   HERE.

More Americans than ever are overdosing on anxiety drugs, researchers reported Thursday — and it’s not clear why.

The new study finds not only that more Americans are taking the drugs, which include brand names such as Valium and Xanax, but that they’re taking more of them.

But while the quantity of prescriptions filled tripled between 1996 and 2013, the number of overdoses quadrupled during the same period, the team reported in the American Journal of Public Health.

“We found that the death rate from overdoses involving benzodiazepines, also known as ‘benzos,’ has increased more than four-fold since 1996 — a public health problem that has gone under the radar,” said Dr. Marcus Bachhuber of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, who helped lead the study.

“Overdoses from benzodiazepines have increased at a much faster rate than prescriptions for the drugs, indicating that people have been taking them in a riskier way over time.”

Benzodiazepines are extremely popular drugs in the U.S.

Related: Drug Overdose Deaths Hit Alarming High

More than 5 percent of U.S. adults fill a benzodiazepine prescription every year, for conditions such as anxiety, mood disorders and insomnia.

They’re known to be highly addictive and, in 2013, nearly a third of the 23,000 people who died from prescription drug overdoses were taking them.

Bachhuber’s team looked at large health surveys to find trends in their use and abuse.

“The rate of overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines increased more than four-fold from 0.58 per 100,000 adults to 3.07 per 100 000 adults,” they wrote. “However, this rate appeared to plateau after 2010.”

“Between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription increased 67 percent, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million,” they added.

They found a similarly large increase in the number of pills each adult was prescribed.

It’s not clear why overdoses went up so much. It could be people are taking the drugs for longer times, raising the odds that they’ll eventually overdose. Or it could be the pills are getting to people who don’t have prescriptions, the researchers wrote.

This Is What Mental Illness Looks Like

Taken from the Huffington Post which is found   HERE.

I am 26 years old, and I currently live at home. I flunked out of university my freshman year as a basketball player on a partial scholarship, and I was in and out of community college for several years until I could gain some focus. I guess you can say it’s taken me some time to find direction in my life. I’m someone with mental illness, and mental illness has a way of consuming a person. I’ve got depression and anxiety, which is just a concoction of f*ckery, and the effects can feel agonizing. Anxiety and depression can be very crippling. Getting through each day can feel like a chore, waking up each morning can feel like a curse, and overall it’s just miserable. Throughout the years I’ve had a handful of different therapists. I have been fortunate to find a psychotherapist that is affordable and sincere, and I have been consistently seeing her for a few years now.

I have made a lot of progress since working with my therapist, and this past year I made it through something I never thought I would be willing to share. Last year I had some of the most trying months of my life. I felt like a zombie. I was going through the motions of my everyday life. I didn’t recognize myself. I didn’t feel like myself. I would fake many of my emotions and tell loved ones I was “fine” and that I was just going through a “rough period.” This was not a rough period. Being disappointed at the fact that I would wake each morning was not fine. Hating my existence was not fine. Wanting to end my life was not fine. If I wasn’t locked in my room then I was either at work or at a therapy session. Having to hear your therapist ask in almost every session, “Do you have a plan?” This is not a sign of being fine or just having a rough period. I was dishonest with many people: my friends, my family, and even my therapist. I had plans to end my life; however, I was not convinced any of them were foolproof.

I was more concerned with burdening loved ones than wanting to live. How do you explain to someone that you’re having difficulty coping with life? How do you begin to tell someone that you no longer wish to be alive? Almost every day I found myself reading through Reddit’s thread: [Serious] Parent’s of children who have committed suicide, could you explain the experience? I don’t think deep down I wanted to end my life. I did want to end my suffering. I was convinced that my life did not matter, that all I did was take up space, and that no one understood what I was feeling.

These are all things I once felt ashamed to admit. The shame I associated with needing professional help, the shame I’ve associated with my journey in life taking a bit longer than others, the embarrassment I’ve felt for my parents and myself because I could never seem to get things right — these are burdens I no longer wish to carry.

The truth is, I have no reason to be ashamed. This is not something a person can just snap out of. There is no quick fix. There is no waking up each day and telling myself to be happy. There is no off switch for depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, thinking positive is not something that can defeat mental illness, and I can’t pray mental illness away. What I can do is acknowledge the feelings and thoughts that arise each day. I can remind myself that I am not alone, and I can be patient with myself and just continue to take things one day at a time. This is what mental illness looks like.

___________________

If you — or someone you know — need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for theNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

A Drug To Cure Fear?

Taken from the New York Times  which is found   HERE.

A Personal Update

I have been a bit lax on posting new articles lately. I’m hoping to correct that soon while keeping in mind the world will continue if I don’t! 🙂

A number of years ago I left a church under negative circumstances. Since that time I’ve had some rough times with anxiety and depression.

Being that I can’t travel far to go to church the choices we have had have been limited. Sadly the churches we did attend were not a fit for us and I was losing hope a church wasn’t in our future.

A month ago we decided to try two churches that were nearby. When we attended one of those for the first time the main issue for us was the church was so small. My wife and I are shy by nature.

After attending for a few more weeks we were feeling maybe this is a place we can land and call home. I set an appointment with the senior pastor and we met for 90 minutes.

I couldn’t have been more pleased with how he answered my questions and concerns. I was forgetting genuine pastors still existed who I felt comfortable enough to attend their fellowships without worrying about any of the stuff I’ve experienced in the past.

We had attended another church for a time until things became very unacceptable and we had no choice but to leave.

I know a lot of believers who live with mental illness have left church because of pain that was inflicted upon them for one reason or another. I can fully relate to that.

Maybe you are one of those people???  The idea of being hurt again is something you can’t begin to imagine. The stigma is too much. It’s not worth the risk.

I don’t know how this chapter of my life will unfold but I confess I am excited for the future. I still have issues I’m wrestling with but that’s okay. We all have issues. It’s when we think we don’t is when real damage can be done.

I’m trying to look ahead and not beat myself up over past mistakes as the enemy would have me do. Most importantly I want to be able to trust God with my life and that will be a challenge. But there’s a flicker of hope. That’s all I desire for now. I desire it for you as well.  Allan

My Story From The Beginning: Reason Isn’t Always A Good Thing, Part 2

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:7a Be not wise in thine own eyes:  

Part 1 can be found   HERE.

For a few years in the early 90’s I began to experience things I never had before. What was I supposed to say? “I’m having trouble breathing at an Angel’s game or at a men’s conference?

I recall at the men’s conference I was crawling out of my skin. I’m sitting there thinking “I’m the only person among the thousands here who can’t breathe properly!”  I went down to where tables were set up and asked for prayer but when I described what was happening it was clear they didn’t know what to say. They prayed for me though and I survived the day.

A lot of other things were happening that I won’t describe. But things were building inside of me. Finally in November in maybe 2004 I took a Saturday business appointment and brought our daughter and her best friend along. I thought a drive to Palm Springs would be nice for them.

Along the way my body and mind began acting up. Before I knew it I was in the midst of a full blown panic attack although I didn’t know what was happening. I thought I might be dying or losing my mind.

Somehow I made it through my appointment and managed to get home. I noticed the closer I got to home my symptoms subsided. Home would become my safe place.

The first thing I thought of was I need prayer and counsel and went to our church the next day and explained what happened. Along the way someone brought up agoraphobia to me so I mentioned that to the man at church and he rebuked it having no idea what it was.

I was set to drive into downtown Los Angeles the next day and I was scared. He advised me to listen to praise music and pray on my and things would be okay.

So when things were even worse the next day I was a total mess. Something was happening to me that other believers weren’t experiencing. And the idea of going through what I had experienced on those two drives I never wanted to experience again.

Eventually I saw a doctor who explained things to me and he gave me medication and suggested seeing a counselor. Since that time I have been taking medication for my anxiety.

Other believers asked me where my faith was. A few stated they had been anxious but got through without meds. One person tried to cast demons out of me. It was clear that in my life the people I knew had no idea what I was dealing with.

All I knew is that I wanted to be free of my anxiety. In fact in my mind I thought God had given me a raw deal and owed me a healing.

I was a man with good intentions trying to live the Christian life so something had gone wrong.

That was the beginning of me trying to be God in order to insure my sanity and survival. I’d figure out what to do. I needed to protect my self as it seemed God was asleep at the wheel. mexico

ABOVE: Digging outside restrooms in Mexico around 1990.

So I went about trying to fix myself. The main way I tried to do this was by buying any Christian self help book I could get my hands on. I thought by doing so these books would lay out the steps for my healing. I’d read these steps and follow them and all would be well. But nothing changed.

I then became pretty much superstitious. Each year on my birthday, Father’s Day, and Christmas I waited for God to give me the gift of a supernatural healing.

As the years went by and things stayed the same I came to a few conclusions. God wasn’t going to gift me because I deserved healing. I didn’t.   erinnnnn

ABOVE- My wife, myself and our daughter at her high school graduation in 2000.

What happened through the years is in the deepest part of my being I bought into the lie I was a failure. I concluded God’s promises were not for me. So I settled in to a life of ups and downs. I’d have good streaks when I functioned well and other times when I could barely function at all.

Amazingly through the 90’s my work didn’t suffer. In fact I excelled and at the close of the 90’s I was voted the national sales person of the decade!

After the year 2000 things began to fall apart big time. All of my efforts to get better were futile. I was a mess and in the next few years my life was to change in a big way.

My Story From The Beginning: Part 1

Joel 2:25  And I will restore to you the years which the swarming locust has eaten, the locust larvae, and the stripping locust, and the cutting locust, My great army which I sent among you

I grew up scared. Fear was my constant companion. At times my fear amped up to terror. Typically this took place with nobody knowing and me learning to adapt by self preservation. I guess it was very early avoidance behavior.

In my teens I was a very good athlete. I excelled in most everything. I loved when my excellence was noticed.

But ask me to defend myself against anyone and I could not bring myself to do it. My will had been broken along the way.

meeeeeee

I made it through high school and ended up working in a factory doing machine work. I spent thirteen years at a job I really didn’t care for. It paid the bills so I stayed with it.

The truth was I didn’t believe I could do anything that required skill. My self confidence had been broken along the way.

It was during those thirteen years I married and came to faith. I will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of both of those events in 2016.

I served God with passion in those early years. All I wanted to do was share my faith with others. All of my fears faded into the background for a time. Then life happened. As the late John Lennon sang “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Things began happening with me in about 1974 and it all culminated in about 1995 when I had my first full blown panic attack.

Through the years leading up to this I experienced different things I kept to myself. I found myself having trouble eating meat. I had trouble swallowing it and I feared choking so I gave up steak and other meat.

meee____

 

I also found myself pacing my apartment at night with my finger on my neck. My pulse would be racing and I thought I was on the verge of a heart attack. I went to see a doctor and he pretty much patted me on the head and sent me on my way.

 

I would not go to the dentist. The first time I went was when I was 16 and it was a bad experience. I avoided doctors like the plague. I was scared if I went they would find something terminal or require me to do something that terrified me.

These were things that took place before I came to faith. All of these mixed feelings were beginning to build up within me. This set the stage for my life up to this point. Next time I’ll describe how I tried to COPE.  Allan