All posts by Chelsea

I am Mommy to four very special kids. They are 10, 7, 4, and 3. I have been married to my soul mate and father of my children for 11 years. I was an elementary teacher and am now a tutor for students with a wide range of needs. I love helping others and tutoring is one was I can do that. It is also the reason I started my blog. I have lived with trichotillomania since age 6. In the past 24 years I have tried every treatment, strategy, medication, and therapy. I still pull, but I use strategies I know work for me. I do hope to overcome this demon, but its presence in my life will not keep me from loving myself and enjoying life. Everyone is fighting some battle or has hurts that we do not see. It is learning to live despite these trials that I find very important. Personally, I seek recovery while still accepting the reality of trich. There is no right or wrong way to view or live with trich. I simply blog about my experience in hopes of helping others feel less alone.

The light

bible.com/111/jhn.1.5.niv

Advertisements

Giving Up Our Vices

“You’re gonna have to pray for me, because I already gave up everything else for JESUS,” I lamented to my friend when the Holy Spirit nudged me to give up some of my rap CDs. “And there is no way I am getting rid of this Outkast CD. No. Way.” If you don’t know what a CD is, please take a moment to google the Dark Ages, and there you’ll find my early twenties.

To be honest, the first year or two of my discipleship journey was an uncomfortable process of elimination. I had to give up my vices, my coping mechanisms, the comforts I turned to when I needed a release from pain. Social smoking, drinking too much, binge eating, binge watching television, hiding in relationships, and finally, rap music.

For the record, I still listen to and love that genre, but I began to realize how much death I invited into my life as I considered the negative lyrics coming out of my mouth. I think we underestimate the power of media in our lives.

We’re saturated in pop culture, digital streaming, smart phones and tablets, email and social media, Ted Talks and teaching series. It can be so very difficult to hear God and to allow His word to shape our worldview. In fact, if we’re not careful, the world begins to shape our faith, more than scripture. We even start to think that “just a little bit of this” won’t hurt, right? What’s the big deal anyway?

On the cross, Jesus defeated sin, and He is alive, living in unbroken fellowship with God. Unbroken. There’s not a moment of disconnection between them. Stop with me for a moment and consider what it would be like to never feel a separation from heaven. What kind of joy is that? What would it be like to live without sin? I assure you that I don’t know, but I aspire.

Do you find yourself there in the gap with me? Reading the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans, earnestly desiring Jesus to be Lord of your life, but feeling the painful tension between your flesh and your spirit? Praying to be in deeper relationship with Jesus and others, but choosing a show on Netflix, a glass of wine, or a few hours of anything but meaningful connection, please?

It’s just that relationships are so much work. It feels too hard to find God in every single moment of every single day. Maintaining unbroken fellowship and the intimacy required makes me want to dive headlong into something a bit more mind numbing, with a bit less pressure. (You know, Netflix, wine, Pinterest, fill in yours here.)

You know what I’ve learned? God doesn’t make me perform like a circus monkey. He does not want me to entertain Him, or clean my house first, or be “on” in order to connect. Unlike the culture of this world, He takes me, as I am, hot mess that I am. Whether I am tired, worn out, happy, excited, frustrated, he receives me by His grace. Life in the Spirit relieves pressure; it does not add it.

Sin is not our ruler. Desire is not our master. Jesus is our Lord. Through the finished work of the cross, we do not have to live even a moment feeling disconnected from the presence of God. Together, let’s live receiving the blessing of unbroken fellowship with Him.

PRACTICE: Celebrate what you have already given up, even if it’s rap music. Celebrate your desire to live in unbroken fellowship with God and others. Turn on some Motown and throw yourself a dance party. You may not be where you want to be, but thank God you are not where you were.

I Am Human. I Need Help.

It was close to midnight when I drove into an empty mall parking lot. The sound and sight of rain is distinct in my memory. “Where are you, God?” I shouted, pain coiling itself around my heart, torment gripping my mind. “Where are you?” I sobbed again. I parked my car and began to write the truth in my journal: I am absolutely terrified. My life is completely out of control. God, I need help.

Fourteen years ago I was struggling with an eating disorder (among other things, hello). But in that parking lot, I finally pressed beyond denial and admitted to myself and to God that I had a problem I couldn’t fix. I wasn’t ready to admit the same to others, but at least the pressure of pretending began to lift.

It took a few years for me to open my pain to close friends, and for my life to actually change, but I gained a level of freedom that night as I gave myself permission to say it, to write it: I am human. I am broken. I need help.

Brokenness opens a path for obedience. Not because it’s more spiritual to be jacked up across fourteen areas of life, but because of the humility it takes to engage in an honest relationship between the Holy Spirit and us. It takes guts to say, “I don’t have it all together and I’m not going to wait until I have it all together. Jesus, I need you now. Where are you? Can you please come to me now?”

He has all wisdom. He has all power. He is at peace with our humanity, with our brokenness. He comes to us in our pain, not in our pretense. He gives grace to the humble, but he resists the proud. And the Holy Trinity is the only force able to transform our lives completely, for good.

How I hated those first few times I risked taking off my mask. How I loathed giving up control of my environment and of how others saw me. How I despised living in that grey space between who I was and who I wanted to be. Denial was so much easier – at least my coping mechanisms were familiar, and pretending I had it all together was so much better than sitting in the ugly truth.

But truth-telling started the process of freedom. I began walking wholeheartedly towards integrity. And this opened my heart to receive the truth of the word of God as well. This opened me up to a life in the Spirit.

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” And when we make the simple, albeit difficult, decision to be honest with where we are, we can obey Jesus at each step of our discipleship journey, on our way to where we’re going. We tap into the power of the Holy Spirit and, by His grace, we can respond to our past with His love, remain present where we are, and look to the future with hope.

Humility in obedience is hard; but, oh, my friend, you’re worth it. Eugene Peterson, in his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction:

“I Am Human. I Need Help.”

It was close to midnight when I drove into an empty mall parking lot. The sound and sight of rain is distinct in my memory. “Where are you, God?” I shouted, pain coiling itself around my heart, torment gripping my mind. “Where are you?” I sobbed again. I parked my car and began to write the truth in my journal: I am absolutely terrified. My life is completely out of control. God, I need help.

Fourteen years ago I was struggling with an eating disorder (among other things, hello). But in that parking lot, I finally pressed beyond denial and admitted to myself and to God that I had a problem I couldn’t fix. I wasn’t ready to admit the same to others, but at least the pressure of pretending began to lift.

It took a few years for me to open my pain to close friends, and for my life to actually change, but I gained a level of freedom that night as I gave myself permission to say it, to write it: I am human. I am broken. I need help.

Brokenness opens a path for obedience. Not because it’s more spiritual to be jacked up across fourteen areas of life, but because of the humility it takes to engage in an honest relationship between the Holy Spirit and us. It takes guts to say, “I don’t have it all together and I’m not going to wait until I have it all together. Jesus, I need you now. Where are you? Can you please come to me now?”

He has all wisdom. He has all power. He is at peace with our humanity, with our brokenness. He comes to us in our pain, not in our pretense. He gives grace to the humble, but he resists the proud. And the Holy Trinity is the only force able to transform our lives completely, for good.

How I hated those first few times I risked taking off my mask. How I loathed giving up control of my environment and of how others saw me. How I despised living in that grey space between who I was and who I wanted to be. Denial was so much easier – at least my coping mechanisms were familiar, and pretending I had it all together was so much better than sitting in the ugly truth.

But truth-telling started the process of freedom. I began walking wholeheartedly towards integrity. And this opened my heart to receive the truth of the word of God as well. This opened me up to a life in the Spirit.

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” And when we make the simple, albeit difficult, decision to be honest with where we are, we can obey Jesus at each step of our discipleship journey, on our way to where we’re going. We tap into the power of the Holy Spirit and, by His grace, we can respond to our past with His love, remain present where we are, and look to the future with hope.

Humility in obedience is hard; but, oh, my friend, you’re worth it. Eugene Peterson, in his book, A Long Obedience in the

Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, said, “And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily–open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.” Yes and Amen.

PRACTICE: What thoughts come into your mind as you think about leaning into the grey space of where you are now and where you want to be? Are you uncomfortable, afraid, lonely, angry? Share your thoughts with the Lord. He wants to hear you. Discipleship in an Instant Society, said, “And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily–open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.” Yes and Amen.

PRACTICE: What thoughts come into your mind as you think about leaning into the grey space of where you are now and where you want to be? Are you uncomfortable, afraid, lonely, angry? Share your thoughts with the Lord. He wants to hear you.

Talk It Over

Key Scriptures

image_553951827506475I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14 NIV

image_553951790575893

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. …
1 Corinthians 13:7-8 NIV

image_553951808940738

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Start talking. Find a conversation starter for your group.

  • What was your favorite scene from this message?
  • About how often do you dream or think about changing something about yourself? Weekly, daily, hourly, more?

Start thinking. Ask a thoughtful question.

  • Read Psalm 139:14 NIV. What would change if you lived like this verse was completely true?
  • Why do you think we work so hard to blend in? What are some of the deeper motivations?

Start sharing. Choose questions that create openness.

  • Do you ever try to mask things, whether physical, mental, or emotional, in order to blend in? How does this make you feel about yourself?
  • Do you have any “marks” on your life that make you different? How can they uniquely glorify God?
  • What do you think would change if you stopped trying to be someone else and fully embraced who God uniquely created you to be?
  • What are some actions you could take to fully embrace who God made you to be?

Start praying. Be bold, and pray with power.

God, thank You for making us so well. Thank You for putting awe-inspiring and unique wonder into each one of us. Will You help us to quit trying to blend in and for once just be grateful for who we are and how You made us? Give us the strength to fully embrace all the marks on our lives. We praise You, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Amen.

Start doing. Commit to a step and live it out this week.

  • Add this to your prayer time each morning this week: “God, You did a good job making me. Thank You.”
  • Memorize Psalm 139:14 and let its truth begin to transform the way you talk about yourself.
  • Find some truth about your identity: www.go2.lc/identity

Find this in our app. Open the Life.Church app, choose the latest message, then tap “Talk It Over.”

Whoever finds God, finds life. Visit finds.life.church for more of what you need this week.

Talk It Over Notes for your LifeGroup
www.life.church/talkitover/

7 Strategies to Outsmart the Sun: Staying Clear of Summer Mania

img_0693

The changing seasons effect my moods in a noticeable pattern. Very often winter or even fall bring on depression which last though the spring. I slowly climb out of depression only to land in a hypomanic state, which often begins in the springs and worsens in the summer.

Once again, spring brought on a hypomanic episode that worsened in the summer. Stress, changing schedules, change in sunlight and activities all bring on these mood swings. I just read this blog about fighting summer mania. Here’s to a balanced life. Now I’m going to sleep because I know sleep and a consistent schedule are an important part of my self care. ☀️ 🏖🧜🏻‍♀️💦💛

While you can’t change the seasonal shift to longer days, you can make subtle lifestyle changes, such as regulating sleep, to sidestep summer mania.

Photo: Merlas/Getty Images

By Brittany Sibley

The days are longer and the sun is shining the brightest in a while. For a person diagnosed with Bipolar I in 2006, the mere transition to long, luminous days and shorter nights causes more anxiety and nervousness than usual.

The change of seasons has caused me plenty of manic episodes in the past. I have since learned seven solid solutions and tips to help combat the symptoms of seasonal changes. These tips help in staying clear of an inpatient hospital visit during what most consider the best months of the year. I hope they are as effective for you as they have been for me.

1. Sleep

It has been essential for me to always get enough rest. However, with Daylight Saving Time and longer, shinier days, an additional burst in energy is never too far away. Although it almost always feels wonderful, and causes you to want to get more done, stay out longer, possibly accomplish a few more things in 24 hours…DON’T!

While the feeling of more energy is real and feels great, falling away from your regular sleep regimen is never a good idea, especially when the season of mania approaches. In fact, one should definitely keep the regular sleeping hours and if anything changes, let the hours increase, and not the opposite.

2. Eat Healthy

Eating healthy and making healthy eating decisions regularly is something I still struggle with. Yet I have experienced the benefits of eating salad instead of a deep dish pizza several times. You are what you eat! Eating more veggies, fruit, and lean meats instead of processed foods regularly, and especially during manic season, makes a difference. You will feel a difference in your skin, your mood, and even your waistline.

3. Take Deep Breaths

Taking deep breaths when stressed, tired, upset, angry, unfocused or even irritated helps. Try deeply inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth in sets of 3. This is also a good tool because it requires nothing but reminding yourself to do so in times of sudden distress.

4. Pray/Meditate

Take time out of your day, (first thing in the morning works best for me), and remind yourself of who you are besides your diagnoses.

Remember that you are loved and worthy of all the great things that day has in store for you.

 

Since I am a Christian, it helps me to remind myself that I am never alone because the Holy Spirit, who my Savior promised to send when he left, is with me no matter how lonely I may feel.

5. Take Breaks

The sudden burst of energy one may experience from the sunnier days and more exposure to the sun in general can trigger the want to complete more tasks—and this can be alright, as long as you remember to take breaks.

It helps to remember that this new energy feels good, but is coming from an unbalanced source.

 

Doing too much in 24 hours with little time to break or rest can cause the onset of a manic episode.

6. Watch Alcohol Intake

5 years ago in 2013, I had an inpatient hospital visit that can be directly attributed to the large intake of hard alcohol consumed two nights before. I simply drank way too much that night.

With spring and summer come more festivals, barbecues, beaches, and let’s admit it—booze.

Monitoring alcohol intake during these seasons is a must! If you still are not sure when you have had enough, take it slow. Yes it can be a bit lame being the responsible one at the party, but I promise, your freedom will thank you later.

7. Cover Bedroom Windows Heavily

The day before Daylight Saving Time, try covering your bedroom window with a dark-colored blanket. The blanket will work as a shield to the bright rays of sun in the morning.

Although longer, sunnier days are always welcome, adjusting to the initial change while having a mental health condition can be traumatic.

The dark blanket helps ensure your sleeping pattern is not interrupted so blatantly. It also allows your body to tell you when it has had enough sleep.

I hope these seven tips are as helpful for you as they have been for me over the past several springs and summers.

Let’s do our best to have a safe, healthy and stable summer while enjoying the sunnier days and moonlit nights. Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health. Until next time…Happy Summer!

Learn more:

Ask The Doctor: Summer Mania

Watch Out for Summer Mania

4 Go-To Tips to Take on (Unbearable!) Social Anxiety

Getting busy striking up a simple conversation or just helping an event organizer can allow you to ease discomfort in situations with A LOT of people

Photo: GeorgePeters/Getty Images

By Brittany Sibley

Over the years I have realized a few things related to my journey with Bipolar I. The fact that I can experience hard core anxiety is one of them.

In busy, active situations, my brain can sometimes label this as too overwhelming. These types of situations, for example, include riding a crowded bus, eating lunch in the employee lounge, holiday parties, birthday dinners, outside festivals/concerts, ordering food in a busy restaurant, and waiting in long lines at a local grocery store, supermarket or any other place a lot of folks—familiar or unfamiliar—may be located at one point of time.

At times, my “bipolar 1 mind” cannot conceive baring situations with lots of people because it feels a little too much for my five senses. I have learned a few tips to try and ignore the sense of unbearable discomfort to help you get through your day, run your errand, stay put at the party, and enjoy your family’s get-together, concert, festival or any other situation where your brain would like you to detach, resist, isolate or literally walk away.

I have experienced when walking away is necessary to maintain your calmness, and if you find yourself in this situation, please do what’s necessary to ensure stability. However, if you think you can stay put, staying active personally is a great way to get over that hump. These are often my go-to tools for keeping myself active in busy situations.

1. Try to make convenient, comfortable conversation with at least one person.

It does not matter who the one person is, and you don’t need many details to start the conversation. Just mention something you both have in common in that moment of time. I hate to be cliche, but it really could be the weather, how his or her day has been thus far, how and why the place you both are presently in is so crowded or decorated (depending).

Usually as the conversation progresses, your mind eventually fades from unbearable to sort of bearable to not so bad after all.

2. Always have something to read!

If not, pick up something to read. A magazine, a book, a schedule, a brochure, an itinerary—it does not really matter what it is.

In my experience, by reading, you are taking your mind off the sudden discomfort your body experiences in busy, or suddenly busy situations. Your mind begins to instead focus your energy on reading and learning, possibly information you did not know before.

If you continue to read long enough, the urge to walk away from the situation will settle. When in long lines, I usually read long enough until it is my turn to check out.

3. Offer/ask host of event or gathering if there is anything you can do to help.

I have found making myself available to the host keeps me very active at busy events. From helping with displays and food layouts, to assisting with clean up by gathering dishes, and finally helping any elderly with second plates, take home bags, and drink refills, these tasks can take your mind off of your anxiety.

4. Keep your head up and remind yourself that the reason you feel anxiety is because you actually got up and went to the situation, event or invite in the first place.

While some places can be required and unavoidable, choosing to remain active in them in any effort deserves a little recognition. Recognizing any small feat allows the next accomplishments to become easier and easier.

These few tools can help in trying to remain active in anxiety-inducing situations the same way they continue to help me. I speak from my personal experience, and you or your loved ones may have experiences quite different than what I know to be true.

Either way, trying the tools will not hurt, especially during this summer season where things to do abound! I would love to hear if these tips work for you and if not, what other tools you may know of to better assist in similar situations. Happy July and continue to take care of your mind as well as you do your body…until next time, Happy Summer!

Learn more:

7 Strategies to Outsmart the Sun: Staying Clear of Summer Mania

Stress or Bipolar Anxiety? How to Tell the Difference