Trying to express the internal problems

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There has been some talk lately on social media about reaching out to your strong friends because sometimes it’s the ones who seem the strongest who are struggling with things that aren’t spoken. The surprising, high-profile examples of suicide recently have meant a bit more awareness. People who, on the surface, seem happy and comfortable and full of life, but internally are struggling with deep wounds and insecurities that don’t get expressed easily.

I came across a video on Facebook from Mental Health on The Mighty that showed phrases kids said that were code words for “I’m anxious.” These are various ways that kids expressed anxiety and fear using the resources they had at their disposal. I can relate to many of them.

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A year of blogging, a year of growth

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April marks a year of blogging. A year of directed, focused reflection and self-analysis.

The pieces are falling into place. I have a much better sense of who I am, what I have to offer others, my strengths, my abilities, my temperament and all the ways I have reason to be proud of how I’ve grown up, the person I’ve become.

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Peace starts with interior change, not external Band-aids

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More school shootings. More bomb threats. More mass killings. More lives lost. More fear and confusion. An ever increasing sense of wondering “How did we get here?” and “Why is our world so crazy these days?”

There is so much pain, addiction, brokenness, fear, doubt, anger, loneliness, depression, confusion, instability, mental health concerns, anxiety, and countless other problems plaguing our country and the world right now.

We need to see people as people. Treat them as people. As fellow human beings. Welcome them. Embrace them. Love them. Open up communication and dialogue rather than increasing the isolation, rather than pointing fingers and ignoring.

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The downfalls of being passive in a relationship

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One of the significant things during grad school was being in a relationship with “H”. I met him through the social group I had become part of, the grad student and young professional crowd. The group met up weekly for dinner.

For a few weeks our friendship revolved around driving to these events together. I had a car and he didn’t. Plenty of his friends showed up for these meals, so it wasn’t like he had no other options, but he asked me for a ride. I wasn’t in a position to say no, to refuse a ride when I had the chance to give one. Eventually he got a car for himself and he returned the favor by driving.

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The anxiety-ridden grad school experience

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My excitement for resuming my role as student was so strong, that I felt sure my good study habits from my undergrad years would automatically bounce back, even if there had been a two year gap. Boy was I wrong.

There was so much reading.

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How to be supportive

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Sometimes people need suggestions for how they can be supportive and help. I know from personal experience how easy it is to get hung up on the idea that you have to say something to show support. You don’t. Not at all. Often times just being fully present and listening is exactly what the other person needs.

 

Problems are like old shirts (and other insights)

I’ve already established that I lived in my head for many months between being laid off from my job and moving to Alabama. While a lot of my journal entries were chasing after total understanding, obsessing over things that I couldn’t change on my own and just worrying about all sorts of things, there were also some moments of epiphany. Moments of clarity. These happened especially when I took time to slow down and just be quiet. Be still. Not chasing after things or trying to check off all the items on my to-do list. And I thought I’d share a few of those.

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Living in your head can promote insecurity

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In the months between getting laid off from my job and moving to Alabama in August (I did apply for the fellowship and was accepted), I did a lot of journal writing.

I filled four notebooks (averaging 70 pages each) in a matter of six months. Yes, I lived with pen and paper. So while I’m grateful to have some documentation of what I was going through at the time — what I felt, my worries and fears — what isn’t addressed is also quite telling.

I lived in my head.

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An invitation to help with youth ministry

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I had known this woman for many years. She was my P.E. teacher when I was in grade school and always involved in school activities.

During the summer before I left for California, I had helped in small ways with the youth group. It was something to do and a way to be involved. I enjoyed being with this group, but I didn’t have high hopes that I was actually able to offer more than chaperoning assistance.

Yet when I returned from Los Angeles, the youth minister approached me and invited me to join her team. I know I hesitated, wondering if she was asking the right person. So there was a compromise. She invited me to check out the regular Sunday night program. No strings attached. I could come, see for myself, and join or choose to walk away.

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After Los Angeles: Transitioning back to SC

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By early September 2007, I had finished my year of volunteering in Los Angeles. I still wasn’t sure what to pursue as my next step. I applied to various jobs but nothing panned out.

Part of my growth while in California was being exposed to the world of journalism. I realized I enjoyed that kind of writing, but it was challenging to approach strangers and ask for their feedback. I was a small fish in a big pond; I felt like I was thrashing around trying to make things work. But there was some excitement nonetheless, a bit of a thrill with figuring out how to piece many little parts together into a finished story, even if the interviewing aspect was nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. (If you missed them, you can read the pieces I wrote for my San Francisco assignment and the personal article on my brother becoming a priest.)

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