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To my older self

Dear Annora,

You are ninety years old. Ninety! Right now, you are sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for your lost iPhone to be returned to you. iPhones. Funny, huh? Remember those? Remember how you were attached to it? Remember how lost you felt without it? Seventy-two years ago feels so long ago, and yet so near. You remember the sights and smells from the doctor’s office and the taste of your cherry coke. You remember everything but you can’t remember to tie your shoes. Look down. They’re either tied or slip ons, aren’t they? Sure are. Just like now.

When you were twenty-eight, things were so different. Doctors mocked you. Doctors laughed at you. Nurses tried to kill you. People told you were were faking your illnesses. How does it feel to still have them at ninety? I know you’re alive. You’re alive and kicking ass. How many people have you crutch whacked by now, anyway? How many cats have you had? How many friends have you lost?

Annora, you never outgrow your video game addiction. Have you caught all the Pokemon yet? That’s a pretty admiral life goal, you know. Do you still watch all the Marvel movies? Are you still best friends with Anna? Do you still miss Beth with all your being? How many more friends have you lost? How many anime cons have you been to? How many times has someone told you you’re too old for Sesame Street and Blues Clues and how many death glares have you given?

Oh, sweet Nora. You are still chronically ill. It’s something you will never outgrow. The person you are at 28 is fighting for the person you’ll be at ninety. She is fighting for your rights. She is being the voice for the voiceless. Even though she’s scared shitless, she’s launching herself more and more into being an activist and an advocate. She’s so fucking shy and timid right now, but she isn’t shutting up. You’re ninety now, you likely aren’t being quiet either. People aren’t listening to you in the past because you’re only twenty eight, you’re small for your age, and you’re disabled. But you’re fighting and giving them hell. As Chris Crutcher once told you, you’re kicking the hell out of everything that kicks the hell out of you.

You’ve been published. Your memoir is a New York Times Best Seller (okay, I’m kidding. I’ve not even gotten the first page written at age 28 but dammit it will be published by the time I/we are 30. And people read it. They laughed, they cried, they rejoiced with you.

Nora, your life as an advocate has cost you friends. But you’ve also gained them. You’ve gained the most incredible friends you can imagine.. You’re appalled now that people once thought autism was a character flaw, something to be cured. Things are different now (well, not all things: you still crack “that’s what she said” jokes, much to “kids these days” horror).

But, my precious Nora, you love the life you lived. And the life you are living. You aren’t dead yet.

You’re getting better.

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Through despair and hope, through faith and love

Seven years ago, everything was changing. Little did I know that just over a month later, everything would further spiral out of control. Me, the control freak that I am, would be left utterly helpless and shattered. How was I to know that age 18, soon everything I knew would change? How was I to know at 18, everything was going to be different soon? How was I to know that I would soon sink into utter despair, and not know when I would find hope again?

September 28, 2005 was the day I totally melted down from stress in the middle of my College Prep World History class. I remember just bursting into tears during a study period, and my teacher trying to console me. But me, being the stubborn person I am, threw up my walls and refused to let him in. Idiotic move there, Ang. Soon things would change so much. But I wonder how different it would have been had I opened up to the teacher then. But I was scared to death. I was only 18 and while legally an adult, if I told the other people at school what was going on, legal systems would be involved. Kind of funny how just over a month later, my faith in the legal system was shattered as well. Kind of funny how my faith in the church and the legal system both took a suckerpunch, and I still haven’t regained faith in the legal system.

I guess it’s kind of funny now that I’m going into the ministry. It’s kind of my ultimate “screw you, bitches!” to the people who hurt me in the church. It’s the proverbial middle finger to those who told me I’d never amount to anything, I’d never graduate college. Because you know what? I’m going to make a difference. My story of despair was not for naught, and I can turn it into hope. If I can make a difference in just one life, I will have had an effective ministry. If I can help just one teenager, just one child, if I can protect the child that others failed to protect, my work is complete.

I want to help the ones who slip through the cracks. The ones who fall to the wayside. It doesn’t matter if no one else loves them, I want to love them. To turn despair into hope, and to administer faith and love. To be someone they can trust, and not someone who will shatter everything when one of the darkest secrets come to life.

And that is my dream. One of them. The other is to work in a summer camp for disabled children, but that’s another post. Another day. Another night.

It’s bedtime. Alarm goes off too early, but it’s another little sleep night. Been too many of those lately, but not much I can do about it at the moment.

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Because reason says I should have died three years ago

I am told that it is nothing short of a miracle I am alive, be it by the circumstances of life or be it by my own hand. I am told that many other people in my shoes would be homeless, would be drug addicts, would be drunkards. That I shouldn’t be alive due to medicine mixups, ailments, and various things I have.

At the same time, I’ve been told that if I just had more faith I would be healed. If I just believed I could overcome, things would be better. The truth is, I’ve accepted things to be the way they are. It doesn’t mean I don’t channel my energy in recovery. What it does mean is like in the serenity prayer, I accept the things I cannot change and must have the courage to change the things I can.

Oh look, I can climb the twisty thing!

Just because I’ve accepted my disabilities, I feel, doesn’t mean that I’ve let them pull me down. I’ve really beaten incredible odds. I’ve overcome so much. I still have much to overcome. I know that due to genetics my general health will continue to demolish itself. I know that if I try to push myself, believing if I just do a little better I can overcome, I will wind up making things a bazillion times worse. To focus on what I cannot do would be foolish. I can play on playgrounds, I can wade in the water. I can take walks. I can so much! Why pull myself down by  bashing myself?

I can play in the water!

I can’t control what my father did in the past and I can’t deny the impact it has with me today. I can control how I choose to act on the result. I can’t control the fact that I’m disabled for likely life, but I can choose to accept it and make the best of my life, no matter how long or short it is. The important thing is that I keep on keeping on, and instead, continue to defy odds. Continue to shoot down the ones who say I can’t make it. You know what? I may not make it in the traditional sense. But it doesn’t mean I have to give up hope, that I have to quit at life. Instead, it fuels me to go forward, propels me to keep swimming (even though, well, I can’t swim) and gives me a reason to survive.

And if you care to find me, look towards the western sky
As someone told me lately, everyone deserves a chance to fly
And if I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free
To those who ground me take a message back from me!
Tell them how I’m defying gravity, I’m flying high, defying gravity…
Wicked – “Defying Gravity.”
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And I know, you won’t feel this way forever

Not even a month ago, I was started on a new antidepressant. Before I was trapped in depression. Trapped.

But now things are looking up. I’m having horrible side effects, but maybe my nice shrink with a southern accent can find a similar one or maybe he can find something to counteract them.

There is just one week left of classes. One week!! It’s at this lovely state in the semester where things are just not going all that well..

But it doesn’t mean things are going poorly. I’m at my breaking point stress wise, but things are looking up. It doesn’t mean things are perfect, but it means they are looking up. Things won’t always be this way. 
Some days are still terrible. Some days I feel like relasping into self injury. I know, I know, it sounds silly and maybe it is. I recently passed the ten year mark from the first time I cut. I still remember that day, still remember it so clearly. And for so long, I thought I was so clever. That I was masking my pain. That I was dealing with my pain. That I had my own little secret way of dealing with the world, hidden under my shirt sleeves. But I was young, I was naive. I didn’t know, couldn’t know, wouldn’t know that by masking the pain, when it came to surface, it only got worse. And so, when once one cut would suffice, now it would take two. Then three. Then four. Until my arms looked horrible. Until I had to move to my legs. And as much as I would welcome the nirvana, the bittersweet Ecstasy of cutting again… it’s not worth it. At times I think the break from the pain would be worth it, then I’d deserve it coming back so much.
But the thing is? I don’t deserve pain. For years, and I admit, some days I still do, it feels like  it was all my fault. Maybe if I had been a better behaved child. Maybe if I had been cuter. Maybe if I would have run away. Maybe if I would have done drugs. Maybe if I would have drank. Maybe if I would have told someone what my father was doing instead of hiding it, even denying it for years. Maybe if I would have fought back. I had so many chances in high school to say what my dad was doing. There was the time I fell apart in youth group, and one of the sponsors asked if everything was okay at home. There were the countless doctor appointments that asked if I was safe at home. There were the teachers that reached out to me.
The thing was, I was young and I was scared. Would people have believed me? Would things have gotten worse had I told? I don’t know. But the thing is, it’s not my fault. It wasn’t my fault. It was never my fault.


And even if, for some reason, it was my fault, it doesn’t make any of it okay. It doesn’t make my childhood okay, even if I did mess up at times. It doesn’t make what my dad did right, not remotely. And even if my actions DID cause him to act that way, it wasn’t right. Not in any way shape or form.

That said, I started this blog taking one track, and it took another. Things are looking up. I’m finding hope again. Moreso, I’m enjoying things again. I’m not playing games just as an escape, but I’m enjoying them. It’s the little things. I’m starting to sleep again, even! Sleep is good. Usually.

And now I’m going to play Final Fantasy 8 and talk on MSN for a bit before going to bed early, so tomorrow I can talk on MSN, clean, and do homework. So I can do what I love on Sunday and play music in church then come home and study and clean. I’m going to close this entry with lyrics to one of my favourite songs. ^_^

Spoken – Promise.
(Verse 1)
Yet another day seems like its wasted
You don’t feel youre any closer to the prize
A dead end job where there’s no future
Praying that tomorrow things wont be this way

(Chorus)
Things will get better this I promise you
And I know that you won’t feel this way forever
Things will get better this I promise you
And I know loneliness wont last forever

(Verse 2)
Yet another day, another tired morning
You’re catching up to your intentions
Your’e thinking life has to be easier than this
Maybe tomorrow things wont be this way

(Chorus)
Things will get better this I promise you
and I know it won’t feel this way forever
Things will get better this I promise you
and I know we can find a way to make it better
things will get better this I promise you 

(Outro)
Things will get better this I promise you
And I know it won’t feel this way forever
Things will get better this I promise you
And I know loneliness won’t last forever
Things will get better this I promise you
And I know things will get better this I promise you
And I know things will get better this I promise you
And I know loneliness won’t last forever

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this is your life, are you who you want to be?

I’m kind of freaked out at the moment. Okay, let’s rephrase that. I’m very freaked out. I very much want to go in the ministry. I want to teach, to reach, to help. But I don’t think that Director of Christian Outreach is right. I’m not made to witness to people! I can’t do these face to face convos, calling people to faith! I can’t help a pregnant woman, because I don’t fully believe that abortion is wrong. I can’t help a gay person, because I don’t know that it’s wrong to be gay and I’ve become more accepting of it over the years.

But how can I be a director of Christian outreach when bringing people into the church freaks me out? I don’t want to bring new people in – I want to help the ones who are here. I go into a cold sweat, panic, puke, cry, clam up, and my mind goes blank when I have to do this stuff – even though I know it all logically. I can do it over a messenger. But if i have to do it in person? It’s a living hell. I’m not made to do this! I want to teach! I want to read about Mark (my favourite gospel) and make it relatable! I want to play with children! I want to do young adult ministry! (I can’t deal with teenagers :P) I don’t want to pull new people into the church! I’m fine with helping the broken, Lord knows i want to help those who have been broken be it by the church or by life or both. But I’m not the one to pull them into a relationship with Christ.

I’ve been struggling with this for awhile. It doesn’t help that my eating disorder is out of control, it doesn’t help that my pain and depression and ADD are not medicated. (I go to pick up my Remeron  tomorrow). It doesn’t help that I’m struggling to pass math. It doesn’t help that I’m trying to find an apartment, move off campus, line up doctor’s appointments. And at times it feels like I’m doing it all single-handedly. It doesn’t help that I feel so stressed out.

It’s like I’m playing Pokemon, and I’m up against a trainer who has the attack that’s super effective against me. We’re down to a grass pokemon and a fire pokemon, and I have no other pokemon left other than my poor Leafeon and they’re kicking ass with Rapidash. I can’t flee from a trainer battle, and so attack after attack is hurled at me until I faint, until I black out.

Y U PICK ON ME? THAT NO IZ NICE.

Ahem. Anyway, I’m struggling with this. This is my life, is it who I want to be? I try to make the changes to make things better but it’s hard. And there are some things I cannot change. I guess it’s like the serenity prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to accept the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
It just seems like such a struggle some days. Every attack is super effective, and wears me down more and more. I just don’t know what to do anymore and how to keep pulling through. 
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“I cannot find my voice.”

I have this habit of locking down inside myself. Oh, there is so much happening. Images dancing in my head, sights, smells, sounds, twisting together, tangling, intertwined. It’s safer to stay silent. It’s safer not to speak. I’m afraid to speak out. Speaking out senior year and being shushed solidified that fear. I was only eighteen. I was a senior in high school. And I was heartbroken. I wouldn’t wish the choices I made that cold October morning to my worst enemy. But yet, the choices let me to where I am today.

I’ve grown so much since my senior year. I should hope so, considering I’ll have graduated six years ago come June. Six years is a long time, and even as I got my diploma that warm June evening, I had no idea the changes that would come over the next few years. I had no idea I would legally be declared disabled before 21. I had no idea I would sever ties with my mother as well. I had no idea that I would be called into the ministry. I had no idea I wouldn’t finish college in Canada and that in 2012 I’d still be working on my undergraduate degree. I had no idea I’d live in frick-fracking MINNESOTA where it’s frick-fracking cold. I had no idea I’d still be battling PTSD, cutting, eating disorder… I suppose I thought it’d magically stop, but NEWSFLASH: IT WON’T.

I had no idea that both my grandparents would die before I completed my undergraduate degree. I had no idea that I would make beautiful friendships, meet my future best friends, and go through heart-wrenching grief. I had no idea of any of that.

I had no idea at age 24 people would STILL think I’m 14. Heh. Funnily enough, side story. I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment and I mentioned how I still had a specialist at the Children’s Hospital. “Oh, you could easily pass for 14.” Me: “Mmhmm.” “You’ll like  more as you get closer to your 30’s!” *silence* “I’m 24.” “WHAT?!” “Yeah, I’ll be 25 in June.” “….” “You’re not 18?” 18 is the oldest I’ve been mistaken for in awhile, so I suppose that should make my happy. Anyway. Done with the side story.

Tori Amos said in her song “sometimes I hear my voice and it’s been here, silent all these years.” Problem is, I don’t hear my voice. Sure, I blog and I write and I talk. But I bottle so much up. I keep so much inside me. And I don’t know how to pull it out. There are things about my past that repulse me, that I haven’t told anyone. And it scares me that it’s there. And I don’t want to talk about it because I’m afraid people, even those who want to help me so badly, won’t like me anymore. Will think horrible things. Won’t understand. And so, I carry the burden.

When will I realize how stupid that is?
When will I realize how dumb that is?
When will I find the way to pull out my voice and be strong?

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And she fools all of her friends into thinking she’s so strong but she still sleeps with the light on

My bed is soaked with sadness
My sadness has no end has no end
A downward of  spiral of dispair
That I keep falling in 
I need you how, how I need you 
(…)
Your silence is like death to me,
so won’t you hear my desperate plea?
-I Need You, The Swift

It’s hard some days to get myself out of bed. My alarm goes off, a few swear words slip past my lips, a stuffed animal may fly across the room. I’m not a morning person by nature, never have been. But when you’re trapped in depression, when your greatest enemy is that reflection in the mirror, sometimes hauling yourself out of bed is one of the most difficult things of the day.

I suppose I make it sound like I’m drowning in depression. Some days I am. Some days I wonder why I get out of bed when I’ve barely slept the night before and daytime is the only time I’m able to actually sleep. When I’m running on two to three hours a sleep a night, and a couple hour nap during the day. Why I bother even trying to hope, trying to dream, when it seems like my hopes and dreams and wishes will just be crushed. It’s hard.

Living with depression is like fighting a monster every morning. My days and nights are reversed. I just want solace – just some relief from all the pain I’m trapped in. It feels like just doing simple things – hanging out with friends, eating, hauling my butt out of bed, doing the laundry, drain all the effort and energy out of me and I’m left alone with my thoughts.

All I want to do is be free from this demon I battle. I want to be truly happy again, and not a person that I want to hide from. But I don’t know how. I don’t know how to open up about the past and allow people – friends, therapists, pastors, et al, help me. I don’t know how to let people understand and even begin to give me a chance to have hope again.

For as much as I want to hope, dream, laugh, love, and carry on with my life, it scares the everliving shit out of me. All I’ve known for over a decade is depression. All I’ve known is bleakness. All I’ve known is living in fear and terror. And as exhilarating and thrilling the other side might be – it’s completely unknown. It’s something I’ve never felt before. What if it’s too much? What if I don’t like it? What if I taste the other side, and I don’t like it at all? What if it hurts? What if I get a sampling of it, and I wind up falling back into depression? Would the relapse be that much worse because I’ve tasted the other side? Or would it be better once I pull out of the funk again, because I know what the other side is like? 

I get sick of trying various antidepressants. I get sick of feeling like this – I don’t WANT to be like this! But how do I attempt something I’ve never tried, how do I try something I just don’t know? How do I even attempt to spread my wings and fly, when every time I’ve tried to fly I’ve fallen?

Depression sucks. I’ll leave you with Adventures in Depression because that sums it up better than I ever could.

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I don’t know how you do it

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I’ve been told it for years, really. “I don’t know how you do it.” The truth of the matter is? I don’t know how I do it, either.

I wish I did. Thing is, when you have to do it, you do it. There’s nothing impressive about what I’ve done. I’ve been paying my own bill since I was 21, managing my old medical stuff, all that stuff. It’s what I have to do.

People tell me they couldn’t do what I do. Truth is? I can’t do what I do. You just have to throw yourself in and DO it.

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You’re beautiful, like a rainbow

One of my favourite commercials (more like a PSA)  has been the Dove – True Colors ad. I don’t think it’s been on television for a few years now. I remember it coming out my senior year of high school. That year sucked beyond measure, but that’s a moot point.

Thing is? We all have things we don’t like about ourselves. I struggle with my body image on a daily basis. It’s a battle I constantly fight against myself.

The thing is? It doesn’t matter that I walk with a limp or my knee snaps out of joint. It doesn’t matter that my posture is awkward or I’m not a perfect weight. It doesn’t matter because really, it’s not much in the grand scheme of things. I doubt when my friends think of me they are thinking the same things I think when I look in the mirror (Gah, another blemish. Shit, my hair is a mess. Dammit, I look fat today. God, why don’t my shoulders lie straight!). Instead, they think about the good things (and okay, maybe some of the annoying things like the fact they have to debate with me to get me to do things like, oh, eat) about my character.

It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that while I belittle myself over my appearance, it’s not what others do. And really, the things I hate so much are likely what others like. And I need to learn that it’s not a big deal what’s on the outside – that it’s what’s inside that really matters. And not fully inside, like my heart and my lungs (although I reckon those things are good as well) but the person I am deep within.

But I see your true colours shining through,
I see your true colours, and that’s why I love you

(Wow, my nearly 3 am postings when I should be asleep are interesting. Curse you, insomnia!)