GAD: Post 4 of 4 (This is all for now, folks!) 08-01-12
A dear woman I went to church with once handed me a slip of paper with these words hand-written on it:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
I know she meant well. And I know all scripture is true. But I’d be lying if I said this encouraged me. In fact, I let this incident serve as a catalyst into a whole other kind of struggle.
-I obviously didn’t have enough faith
-I must not have been praying enough.
-I didn’t believe like I should, otherwise I’d be healed.
-My worry indicated a sinful distrust in God.
This had to be the reason I was plagued with anxiety, and not feeling the “peace that surpasses all understanding”.
At least this is what I told myself for a while.
The medication I was prescribed sat untouched for days. I’d open the cabinet door each morning, look at the bottle, and close the door again.
“If you take this,” I told myself, “you are weak.”
I come from an area where (to some) anti-depressants still carry a taboo. I was convinced the “crazy pills” would change my personality, everyone would know I was taking them and people would look down on me.
Then I got real.
There’s nothing wrong with taking medication if you need it.
God has chosen to allow advancement in medicine and I, for one, am grateful. Does He need it to heal us? No. He could reach down and supernaturally heal me today. And I certainly pray to that end. But, if that never happens, I consider it a huge blessing to have access to medication that will treat my condition.
Taking anti-anxiety drugs helped me get to the root cause of my disorder. It gave me some control back. It worked to correct the chemical imbalance of my brain so I could be mentally stable enough to function normally. I could read Philippians 4:6-7 and put it to practice.
I made every effort to move forward without medication, but found that it was necessary so I could truly begin to cope.
As I’ve said in previous blogs, I read up on my condition, joined a support group, memorized scripture, prayed and talked at length with my doctor before resorting to medication. I would never encourage someone to let medication take the place of actually dealing with your depression or anxiety.
I’ve come to this conclusion: When my condition is being treated, I’m a better wife, daughter, friend and servant. I accomplish more for the kingdom. Without the constant cloud of worry, fear & dread I’m able to walk in the freedom I know I have in Christ.
So, I close my GAD blog series with a hopeful heart. (and a relieved one!) It’s been difficult to be this transparent, but I know it was time. I’ve prayed over these weeks that someone would be ministered to through this. If you’re one of those people…I’m so glad we’re in this together.
God has every power to heal us from all our diseases and afflictions (Matt. 4:23), but doesn’t always choose to. We may not know His reasons, but we can’t let what we don’t know overshadow what we do know. Whether He reveals His purposes or not, He is always good and we can trust Him.
I’m clinging to the promise that the kingdom will bring eternal healing and wholeness for the children of God.
GAD: Post 3 of 4 07-19-12
So the “nakedness” got to me and I gladly took a few days off from blogging. We gallivanted around Texas with our dear friends, then came home and slept like it was our job.
Nevertheless, I’m back. And just as I suspected, writing so openly and honestly is still as terrifying as it was before. More than once, I’ve asked myself “Why, exactly, are you doing this?” and I think one reason I haven’t told you yet is this…
I’ve been SO greatly ministered to by the teachings of Beth Moore over the years. She is not only passionate about the Word, but also fully surrendered to letting God use her pain to help others. If she had been too fearful or ashamed to share her story, I’m confident that I wouldn’t be who I am today. God has used her to show me many things.
What if my own experiences could help others the way hers have helped me? I can’t miss the chance to find out. So, thank you Beth.
In my first entry, I talked about living with GAD and what that looks like. I listed some of the common symptoms and made known the fact that I was diagnosed 5 years ago at age 22. Then in my second entry, I talked about the biblical truth that nothing can touch our lives outside of God’s sovereign plan- including pain and suffering.
So, what’s left? Well, quite a bit.
Just because I’ve been formally diagnosed (it got a name) and I’ve turned to God’s Word for strength (hope is not lost), doesn’t mean my struggle magically became easy or diminished overnight. I’ve yet to be healed on this side of Heaven.
So, I’ve learned to cope. And not in a passive way. Maybe “fight” is a better word. I remember my Dad telling me once that what I suffered with was just as real as a broken leg. I felt validated. And just like you wouldn’t hobble around on a broken bone, I didn’t have to sit back and hope I got better. I could be proactive. So…
-I joined a support group at my church for people suffering from depression & anxiety. We used a workbook to guide our sessions. I was the youngest member and gained so much from these people. They had been there. I can’t tell you what a help it was just knowing I wasn’t alone.
-I researched & read everything I could find to learn more about GAD. Whoever said “Knowledge is Power!” was right. For example, a panic attack feels like a heart attack when you don’t know what’s happening. But, it’s not one. You will survive. That ER trip will end up like this- “I’m 99% sure you’re just having a panic attack. 22 year old girls don’t usually have heart attacks. That’ll be $1,000.”
-I started going to a wonderful doctor (one that wasn’t attempting a Guiness World Record for fastest office visit). She took a lot time with me and for that I’m extremely grateful. She talked me through my diagnosis. She helped me understand it. And she prescribed a medication that works for me. (more on that later)
-I put on the armor of God and prayed like never before.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
It all seemed pretty practical until that last one, right? How is something like GAD a spiritual battle?
Every struggle we face is an opportunity to grow in faith, run to God, believe His promises and glorify Him. It’s also an opportunity to resent Him, turn to other things, become angry or bitter and miss what He’s trying to teach us. We can’t take this lightly.
In ALL things we must bless & praise the Lord. (Psalm 34:1) We must believe that earthly suffering is temporary and He has promised to restore, support, and strengthen us. (1 Peter 5:10) We must consider it “pure joy” when we face trials, because we know He is developing us. (James 1:2-4)
We must suit up, friends.
One more to go…love you all.
GAD: Post 2 of (I’m thinking 4, but we’ll see) 07-06-12
I’m not usually one for putting it all out there. It’s not “therapeutic” or “cathartic” for me to spill my guts and then post a link on Facebook to the mess. I usually work things out through prayer or songwriting. So it dawned on me that since this is uncharacteristic of me…it might appear to be a cry for help. But really, it’s not.
While I appreciate the encouraging comments I’ve received, (more than words can say) please know these blogs are not me fishing for them. I’m not on the brink. I’m not on a ledge. My family and closest friends know the work I’ve put into learning to cope with my disorder. It’s a battle and I’ve learned to fight. I’m 5’3, but stronger than I look.
So, what is the point to all this?
The point is to start a conversation.
To talk about more than my love for songwriting, owls and vintage clothing.
To let you know more of the real me.
I think I’ve been hiding her.
Most importantly, I’m on a quest to find purpose from my pain. I believe God is sovereign and nothing touches me without His knowledge. I believe Romans 8:28.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
If these words are true, everything in my life- even GAD- is working together for my good and to fulfill His purpose. I feel the distinct call to share my story at this point in my life. I’m sure it’s a part of His plan.
In these past 5 years of living with GAD, I’ve been able to look back over my life and see signs of how I got here.
Relax, Ma. This isn’t where I blame you for everything.
From straightening the rugs at age 2 (need for order/control) to being intensely afraid of storms in my adolescence (irrational fears), which resulted in my permanent attachment to Ma’s thigh (separation anxiety), I see traces of my disorder even in childhood. I grew up into an extremely self-conscious teenager, despite my parent’s constant love and support, and even battled an eating disorder for a year in late high school. (extreme perfectionism)
It’s all there…I just didn’t see it.
Right about now, I’m wondering if any of you can relate? Are you dealing with something in your life that’s been slowly cooking for a long time? It wasn’t until I joined a support group and took the time to actually reflect on my life that I realized this.
I must have come out of the womb worrying about what was next.
Speaking of wombs, the Word says I was knit together there. Think on this passage from Psalm 139 for a minute…
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Before I ever struggled with GAD, suffered a panic attack, woke to a day of fighting constant worry and dread, God ordained every hour I would live before there was time. My frame (person) has never been a mystery to him. Even within my mother’s body, He knew me full and well. He made me and calls it wonderful.
Why does this give us hope?
Our Creator didn’t just call us into existence. He was thoughtful and deliberate about each one of us. Even our pain and suffering serves a purpose that He has planned.
As I wrap this up, I hope you’ll take a minute and think about all you’ve been through.
Why did you experience those things?
That unbelievable tragedy.
Do you believe it happened by chance?
Could God have a greater purpose for your pain?
Are you looking for it?
All for now, friends.
GAD: Post 1 of (however many it takes to say it all) 07-03-12
When you’re having a wonderful day and everything is going perfectly, you don’t want it to end. You’d give anything to have just a few more hours to enjoy whatever blue sky you’re standing under. You lay down at night and smile as you replay every sweet moment of sunshine over again in your head. I’ve had many days like that.
But, when you live with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), sometimes the greatest task is just getting through the hour. The thought of another day and the mental/emotional struggle to survive it, is daunting. You find yourself literally counting down the hours until you can just go to bed, fall asleep and be free from the anxiety for a while.
GAD is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry and fear in day to day life. Approximately 6.8 million American adults suffers from this disorder. I am one of them. It’s more than the normal anxiety that every human being experiences. GAD is a chemical imbalance of the brain that affects serotonin levels and the way you process sensory information. The anxiety or worry is disproportionate to the actual source of anxiety/worry, and sometimes a single cause is not even identifiable.
I was diagnosed at age 22.
To understand what a person suffering from GAD experiences, you must first become familiar with the most common symptoms. Here are some things I’ve been dealing with for the past 5 years.
Common Emotional Symptoms:
-Excessive, debilitating worry & fear
-Intrusive thoughts (a.k.a. “stuck” thoughts, mind chatter)
-Feeling that your anxiety is uncontrollable
-Pervasive feeling of dread & impending doom
-Fear of passing out, fear being along, fear of death (all the while knowing these are irrational!)
Common Behavioral Symptoms:
-Inability to relax, enjoy quiet time, or be alone
-Fidgeting, nervous energy
-Inability to concentrate or focus on things
-Avoiding situations that add to your stress/anxiety
Common Physical Symptoms:
-Extreme fatigue (sounds contradictory, but anxiety also wears your body down)
-Muscle tightness, body aches, headaches
-Feeling edgy, restless, jumpy
The list of symptoms is longer than my arm and we could be here all day if I added every one associated with the disorder. The ones above are considered “classic” symptoms and truly describe what I’ve experienced throughout my diagnosis.
At this point you may be wondering a few things. Isn’t Kelly a performer? Doesn’t she stand on stage in front of people and talk and sing? She seems fine when I see her out…She socializes with people, she seems happy, has a great marriage, has a lot of fun. This GAD thing doesn’t make sense.
The truth is, I’ve been keeping my disorder a secret. Even though I’m currently being treated for it and I’ve learned to cope with it, GAD is still a very real part of my life and I’m finally ready to talk about it. So…I’m starting here.
If the Lord is willing, we’ll talk again soon. There’s so much more to the story and it’s my prayer that some of you will be encouraged as I tell it!
When I was a little girl I had an ivory colored, 4 post, canopy bed. I think my bedspread was Rainbow Bright and I slept peacefully in it for many years. Anyway, one blessed day I discovered the tops of the posts came off and fit perfectly in my hand…
So from then on, I had four microphones within my reach (if I stood on the mattress, on my tippy-toes) for my many bedroom concerts. I went to bed singing and woke up singing. I dreamed of making a record as soon as I learned what they were. Now, I’m 26 and just wrapped up my first solo project. I’m still in disbelief, even as I type this.
Nashville shimmers to me. I think it always will. Even though I’ve learned a lot over the years and have had several bubble-bursting rude awakenings, the city has yet to lose it’s shiny. So, as you can imagine, I was more than a little excited to be recording in a studio on music row. It was the perfect place and I felt right at home immediately. Click the link below to see where I was!
I was in awe of the players and their skill and creativity. They were so precise and so quick, I had to check my jaw a few times. The engineer was amazing too and extremely kind. Everyone was encouraging and excited to be a part of the project. That meant the world to me. I feel honored to have worked with them.
In the end, I spent 3 days in Tennessee, recorded 4 songs and came home to sleep 13 hrs straight. I felt like I’d been in labor for a while. And I guess, in a way, I gave birth to a little baby record. Weird comparison, but it seems to fit. I finished strong, but was exhausted by the end. It felt great…a rare sense of accomplishment for this kitchen table song writer. I can’t thank God and you enough for giving me that.
My amazing husband documented the whole thing, including my ridiculousness, and I put a few clips together for you.
A final note:
If you’ve given your support in any way to this project, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. If I could hunt you all down and hug you, I would. And I just might. I sang every note for you and for the children of Compassion international. I’m praying this record blesses all of you.
Oh, and it’s 2012!!!!
“Come Back Wild” with Eric on mandolin. Live at Buena Vista
Somehow, the topic of safety deposit boxes came up the other day when my mother and I were talking at her kitchen table. She said she used to have one and then asked me to try and guess what she kept in it for years.
After the obvious things like jewelry, financial documents, family heirlooms, cash, etc, I gave up and she finally revealed her secret…her prized possession…important enough to store behind lock and key…the answer?…negatives.
She kept all the negatives from her pictures in a safety deposit box- pictures of me and my brother growing up, pictures of her and my father, old pictures from her childhood, pictures that could never be replaced.
Fast forward about 30 years and not much has changed. Not only does my mother have every picture she’s ever taken scanned and saved to her computer, but she has an entire room in her house dedicated to pictures. I call it her “shrine room”.
My brother and I can be seen at various ages and levels of horrific embarrassment hanging on every wall. Every frilly dress, bad haircut, middle school fashion faux pas, and braced tooth is commemorated for all of eternity in her shrine room.
My mother loves pictures and because of her, I’ve been surrounded by them my entire life. A few are particularly special to me. Flipping through an album brought about the idea for a song…”Old Photograph”.
I see myself in the eyes of my great grandmother, as she stands in the field. I see a deep and true love between my father’s parents. I see the remarkably strong woman that was my mother’s mother. They inspire me to live with integrity, love others, and leave a beautiful legacy…like they did.
I jotted down the lines quickly and easily. The melody just flowed. When I sing this song, everything feels right. It’s simple, but straight from my heart.
With just one week left in my kickstarter campaign…
I felt it was time to backtrack a bit and share how this whole idea came about. It’s kind of a long story that God’s been writing for quite some time. But, I’d say a pivotal moment was in the summer of 2009, when Eric and I attended our first music conference.
We found the Gospel Music Association’s “Immerse” conference (formerly “Music in the Rockies) online. We signed up, packed our bags, and drove to Nashville.
When we saw the “Welcome Redheads” and “Welcome Ramen Lovers” signs, we knew we were at the right place.
I performed in the artist competition and failed miserably, cried my way through the first couple of days, and began to wonder what I was even doing there. To my surprise, I did make it to the finals in the songwriting competition. I had written a quirky song about “The Valley of Dry Bones” in Ezekiel 37 and (going out on a limb) entered it in the scripture-based song category.
Long story short…the song didn’t win, but it was heard.
I left Immerse with my newly sponsored Compassion International child and headed home. If I said I didn’t feel defeated, I’d be lying. I had this picture of how I thought everything would turn out, but God had a different plan. I’ve learned this lesson a thousand times…He knows better than I do.
Several months passed and out of nowhere, I hear from one of the judges from the song competition. The same one who told me my song (“Dry Bones”) was a “great song that would never get cut” ended up having the perfect place for it…on a record called “Ashes To Fire”. I danced around my house for days.
And so I got my first cut with Lillenas Publishing. I even sang on the record!
I’m still writing for the same team and love the work I get to do. If it weren’t for Jayme Thompson and Dave Clark, I’d still be writing songs that never leave my bedroom. They are answered prayers. They have made me a better writer and a better person.
Now, I get the privilege of making my first solo record with these people. The idea to give all the profits away came after weeks of prayer and seeking God’s will. Without Jayme and Dave’s guidance, I’d probably be too afraid to try something like this. Their selflessness and constant generosity has inspired me and I want to pass it on.
I’m beginning to see why the Lord brought me to that conference two years ago. Why I felt such a strong conviction to run to the Compassion International table one night during their presentation and sign up to sponsor a child. It’s clearer now that He was leading me to the people I’d been praying to meet. And through them, I’ve met a whole host of other people I can’t imagine my life without.
So, now you know how I got here. It wasn’t by chance. Nothing in life is. God is telling a beautiful story through us and He’s a part of every single detail.
My heart breaks for the millions of impoverished children living around the world. Compassion is working hard to make their lives better. If my music can further that work and further the kingdom, there’s no better reason to sing.
A project with a purpose…
I’m embarking on a journey and would be honored if you’d join me.
Here’s the deal…I’ve had this dream of making a record for quite some time. I think it started somewhere around the age of 2 when I realized singing in front of my church in my ruffled socks was fun. It progressed around age 13 when I became obsessed with country music and those soundtrack cassettes. I sang my share of Shaniah Twain female anthems at fairs and festivals. I was quite serious. It was quite funny.
Now, I’m 26 years old and music looks a lot different to me. It’s less about microphones and stages and more about ministering to people. I’ve been able to share some of my songs over the last couple of years and it’s been so humbling to see how the Lord can use the most simple lines I’ve written at my kitchen table to touch someone. A shift has taken place in my heart and in my mind. This is no longer about me.
So, I don’t just want to make a record anymore. I want to make a record that makes a difference.
I’m asking you to prayerfully consider visiting my Kickstarter page (an online pledging system used to fund creative projects) and make a donation to the production of my very first record.
Raise all the funds by donations from people like you
Make a record (a short ep) with my very best songs
Give 100% of the profits away to Compassion International http://www.compassion.com, a child advocacy ministry I’ve been affiliated with for several years.
A donation of any amount is accepted and greatly appreciated, but there are incentives for higher amounts donated. Visit the kick starter tab above to read more.
Why Compassion International?
1. I believe in their mission: To release children from spiritual, economic, social, and physical poverty.
2. I believe in their Holistic Child approach
-Child Survival (Rescuing and nurturing little ones)
-Child Sponsorship (Developing, educating, and equipping children for adult life),
-Leadership Development (Educating, training, and discipling servant leaders.)
Learn more about this model here- http://www.compassionmodel.org
3. I believe in child sponsorship
My husband and I began sponsoring a girl from El Salvador a few years ago, and she has been such a blessing to us. I am honored to watch her grow, pray for her, write to her, and tell her of God’s love.
4. I believe we are called to defend the cause of the poor and needy. This is what it means to know the Lord. (Jeremiah 22:16)
I could go on and on about Compassion International, but instead, please visit their website and see for yourselves the work God is doing through this ministry.
So, let’s go together into these uncharted waters. I need your prayers. I need your support. I want you to be a part of this story. Instead of just buying the record when it’s finished, you can join me on the journey. And even better, you can be a blessing to a child in need.