Archive for July, 2014

Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 6

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Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 6

“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”

Robert Green Ingersoll

Great Lakes

 

As the plane headed toward Chicago, I felt both excited and fearful about the idea of training to become a machinist mate / electrical mechanical Navy worker. “Am I going to finally succeed in life, or will I find another way to screw things up again?” Like a fool, I again set myself for defeat in the school, as I put enormous pressure on my abilities to learn the material. Fearing rejection from another potential abuser, like a teeter-totter, my confidence wildly fluctuated, as I experienced the ups and downs of manic-depression as well as obsessive-compulsive behaviors, including getting bogged down in details, when studying. Believing in the lie “Self-worth equals performance plus what other people think of me” seemed to trigger my unstable emotions and behaviors, as I obsessed daily of freedom. I wrongly thought if I proved myself competent, I would be loved – not just by others, but also, myself.

 

Even though getting good grades was extremely difficult and immensely draining for me, I started off okay. Unfortunately, as the training approached the point where the majority of  students fail, I became even more intensely anxious and unconfident. “If I just tried harder and harder, I will succeed. And if I succeed, I will be great. And If I am great, I would be loved, and then I would be happy”, was my daily thought pattern. So I placed enormous pressure on my efforts to succeed, which only intensified my mental illness.

 

After a while, the fear of failure made life become real overwhelming to me as I started feel emotionally sick and weak.  One day, I got so frail and scared that I decided to approach my instructor. Petty Officer 1st class Davis, for support.  Unfortunately, before I started talking with Davis, Petty Officer 1st class Konkol reprimanded for leaning my back against the wall. Agitated and frustrated, I told Konkol I didn’t do it. Being physically weary, I unintentionally leaned against the wall as I started talking to Davis. The next thing I know, Konkol charged me with insubordination, and I was getting chewed out by him and then sent to a senior chief for discipline.

 

As I was being questioned by the senior chief officer, Konkol, who was also present, told the officer “I deliberately chose to be insubordinate and lean against the wall.” I denied it and the next thing I know, “I was charged for lying to a senior chief officer”, which I denied also. In my mind, I didn’t anything wrong.  But Konkol and senior chief did as the senior officer threatened to “send me to captain’s mast”, a serious Navy punishment.

 

Exiting the senior chief’s office, I walked the hallway in hopelessness and confusion as Konkol started berating me again. I remember him telling me “I was a piece of crap (expletive) and the type to get an entire Navy crew killed”. He also told me “he was going to do whatever it took to get me out of the military before it happens.” As he continued to chew me out for a short time, shame, pain, frustration, and mania ran wild in my mind, as I was being verbally and emotionally abused by “a new stepdad abuser”.  Listening to those damning words, I had to work hard to resist the emotional breakdown that was erupting inside of me.

.

 

After he left me alone, I immediately went to the bathroom to heavily release the negative emotions I felt. I was crying so hard, that when I looked into the mirror, I saw my face red and in tears. “Why God, why? . . . I didn’t do anything wrong!  . . . .Why do I have to go through this, all the time! . . . . Why doesn’t anyone love me?  . . . Don’t you love me, God?” Those were the main thoughts of my crying to God.

 

In anger and in frustration, I screamed out loud: “I am going to kill him”, as I felt the pains of all who rejected and abused me, as well as the incident of Kelly Cook.  Even though my mind was losing control, I had no intention to hurt anyone. Unfortunately, an officer, walking by, heard me say the words, and then next thing I know, I was being charged for “threatening to kill an officer.

 

I remember answering questions to some sort of military psychologist, and waiting for a couple of days to see what will happen to me next. They gave me a choice: “Stay in the Navy and appeal my disciplinary consequence and live an entire military career doing crappy job” or “sign a paper for me to be released out of the military with honorable discharge, and be disallowed to join any military branch my entire life.” So I chose to “get out of the Navy”.

 

Even though I was now free from the Navy, I wasn’t free from the emotional baggage it gave me. The shame, guilt, anger, and frustrations involved with again being rejected for making a mistake I didn’t mean to commit, hurt me considerably. The Navy was just another participant who didn’t want me around. This only worsened my obsessions of “don’t make a mistake”. In spite of all this, God never did let go of me.

 

I guess Konkol was right when he said “he was going to do whatever it took for me to get out of the Navy”. Imagine the destruction someone with a mental illness may have on a nuclear reactor of a submarine, etc. Back then, I was just a nineteen year old, mentally-unstable kid still unaware of his disability; in spite of the fact my discharge papers stated “other personality / psychological disorders” for reason of discharge. To me, though, it was just another cruel joke by an unsympathetic military branch.

 

My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Finding Freedom from OCD

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My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Finding Freedom From OCD

 “Courage is to confront what can be imagined”.

Leo Rosten

My Illness Today

 

The trauma of my abuse was a giant that I had to face and defeat every day. Before now, it was a stronghold that haunted me day and night. For too long, I tried to prove the “stepdad in my mind” I was good, worthy of love, and a beautiful creation. Through success and performance, for too long, I tried to avenge the “teacher-choking incident” and the “threatening to kill an officer” experiences, memories my OCD didn’t want to forget. Now I can gladly say those demons are gone

Right now, the main obsessions are “blurting out obscenities”, sexual obsessions, checking alarm clocks, money in wallet, and basketball shoes, etc. in car while driving, pulling the fire alarm, scrupulosity, ruminating over unresolved issues, and obsessive calling people on telephone.

“Blurting out obscenities” include “saying the n-word in public”. Every since about 2006, every time I see a black person, I have the obsession. Imagine every week being in church, and being afraid of screaming out “n-word” in the middle of the service. Or saying it in a movie theater, at work, around African American neighbors, or at the YMCA. If I committed this transgression, it would be another example of me “choking a teacher” in high school or “threatening to kill an officer” in the Navy. People would reject me like how my stepdad and others used to do it, and “I would be further proof” of these people’s “assumptions” that “I am no good”; thus, I would relive those traumatic experiences again. Yes, the abuse and my OCD made me a “prisoner” of my own mind, as I fear experiencing the shame as a “failure who got rejected and abused” again.

Praying to the Holy Spirit for power not to say those bad words (or commit other bad obsessions) has helped dramatically in me not committing the obsessions, but also given me peace in the process. When afraid, I ask the Trinity for His power not to commit those obsessions as I ask Him to fill my words with His – which are ones of love, peace, and purity. Realizing I cannot do it in my own strength, I also ask Him to enable me to “confront my fears, accept the fact in my mind that I having the obsessions, surrender my fears to Him, postpone thinking of the obsessions, believe in the truth that “I won’t say them” (as well as believing in the truth that I am a special creation of God)” as I surrender my fears to Him. (Please read my “God Please Help Me Overcome My OCD article found in My Projects for further information and understanding.)

Like how defeating “lions and bears” built David’s trust in God’s ability to deliver David from his trials,  my previous victories of defeating “blurting out obscenities” (by not committing them in that situation) through God has also  made me more confident and trustful, in God’s deliverance, when I face future battles with OCD. In essence, God has conditioned me to increasingly and increasingly be less afraid of my OCD as I rely upon me to overcome. “With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible”. (Matthew 19:26). (Please also read “God And I Always Greater Than OCD in My projects section of book).

Other major reasons for my successes in dealing with OCD include: my improved self-esteem and self-worth, finally confronting the fears of my stepdad during the camping trip, my better relationships with God, biological father, and stepdads, the medication Anafranil, less stress from not working, and again, ERP and Brainlock (see again “God And I Always Greater Than OCD”.)

Today I am glad to say “I still often have the “n-word” obsessions and other “blurting out obscenities” obsessions; but they don’t control me. Yes, I have times where anxiety is bad, but overall, I am in control of the fears, as my obsessions are  normally mild in anxiety. The “thoughts” don’t control me, as I do what I do, in spite of them. Every time I get afraid, I ask the Holy Spirit for empowerment to enable me to overcome. If the obsessions don’t go away immediately, I pray and pray until my faith becomes strong enough to go on with life.

I have never committed the “blurting out obscenities” before. If I ever do, my Father in Heaven will still love me unconditionally the same, even though others may not. In essence, that it was really matters!

 

in_his_handseverythingineed

 

 

CELIBACY STRUGGLES

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Mental Illness Recovery Story,  Chapter 16

Celibacy Struggles

Jesus says in Matthew 5:28: “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. Several years ago, God told me it wasn’t His will for me to have a mate. “It will interfere with my purpose of you. You will make great change to your world. However, I will give you friends to do things with.” That is what I believe God said to me. Being without a woman for basically my entire life has been a real hard path to follow, but I am willing to do it for God’s purposes.

However, trying to be celibate has led to much masturbation. Having “impure thoughts” while masturbating is the sin I struggle with the most. It is also the transgression I fear the most condemnation after committing. When masturbating, I normally have fantasies of having forced sex with a woman, who in real life is married. That “lust” represents the “sin of adultery” in my mind. What is a worse transgression, is the many times “graphic, violent imaginations” I have when fantasizing about her and sex. In my subconscious fantasies, I portray my stepdad as being the “woman” who “I handcuff” during my masturbation experience. The reason why “my stepdad” is the “woman” is that females are generally considered a weaker gender in most cultures today. And the reason why “I handcuff her”, is that I imagine being “in control” of the abusive men of my past , something I never experienced as a child. The “violent acts” I inflict upon “my past abusers” represent my pent-up desires to release aggression on those who hurt me before. Also note that most of “abusive acts” I do to the “stepdad-woman” are the same or similar acts of abuse done to me as a child. So, in essence, when I masturbate, I fantasize about being in control of the stepdad in my mind. Even though I commit my “violent acts” in a safe, nonthreatening environment (aka my bed and fantasies and not in real life to someone), I still feel much guilt and shame after committing the sins of shame and hateful violence. I try hard not to masturbate, and especially, not to have violent fantasies. So I pray to God, when I do masturbate, enable me to do it in a way that pleases Him. It has helped some, but still often a struggle. I would never in real life hurt anyone. It is just a fantasy. However, I often feel real bad that “these violent thoughts are in my mind.” Maybe that I is why I feel so much guilt, shame, and condemnation after committing the acts.

Depressed

Depressed

What helps to ease my mind after committing these sins is to realize the love and power of God’s grace, and the fact that Christ still died for me (and you), in spite of all the sins God knew I would commit in my lifetime. That an all-knowing God truly understands all my abusive hurts and pains, and that I have an advocate named Jesus who is on my side. Jesus bore the punishment for all our sins –  all because God desperately wants to spend eternity with me and other Prodigal Sons. We just need to courage to daily listen to these Truths.   father567

I FINALLY OVERCOME FEAR OF ABUSER

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My Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 15

“CAMPING TRIP: I FINALLY OVERCAME THE FEAR OF MY ABUSER “

 

 “Nothing produces deeper satisfaction than successfully challenging our own weaknesses.”

Senora Roy

About four years ago, on a camping trip with my mother and stepfather, I finally overcame the fears of my abuser (stepdad) , as I stopped believing “I was no good.” Being belittled, I yelled back at him: “You are wrong! I don’t believe in your lives! I am a good person!”

After a verbal argument between me and him, we left the campsite and rode home, without anyone hardly saying a word. However, after arriving to his house, my stepfather threatened me, by saying the following: “If you ever mouth to me again, I will seriously hurt you!”

Like a coward, I passively said, “Okay”, as I got in my car and headed home to my apartment. However, about three miles down the road, as I reminisced over all the times I submissively let him abuse me, I got real angry. Finally being a man, I turned my car around, and headed back to his house – “I wasn’t going to take any crap anymore!”

I didn’t want to start a fight, but I knew it would  inevitable. Driving very fast, I prayed to God for courage and strength as I turned into his driveway. Still taking his camping gear out of his truck, I got out of my car and ran over to him, pointing my finger at him, and telling him, “Don’t you dare threatened my, you .. (expletive)”. The next thing I knew we got in a fight, and he punched me in the face, breaking my glasses and giving me a bloody, swollen lip.

“You (expletive), you put ice on my testicles! Why did you put ice on my testicles, you son of a *****”.

What he said, in response, totally shocked me. He said, “Maybe this is good that we are having this fight! I’m sorry for all the bad things I did to you! Every day, I regret what I did, and wish I could start all over again, and change things, but I can’t. I’m so sorry!”

After things settled down, I finally felt like a man as I headed toward home. Since then, me and my stepdad get along real well, as I can tell each time I see him, he is trying to do the right thing. I forgive him for all his wrongdoings. That camping trip became the impetus of emotional healing for me, as well as, personal self-respect. I also gained much more control over my fears and obsessions, as” I am no longer that kid scared of everything!”

In addition, to my stepdad, the relationship between myself and my biological father has also been restored. Even though I still only see him once a year, I can tell by his demeanor he has changed much for the better. He still has flaws, but so do I. Each day we see him we both make a concerted effort to show to the other, “I love you.”

“Nobody can you feel inferior without your consent.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

 

fear_no_evil

 

My Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 13

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Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 13

Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street

From someone, I heard about how some disabled people, who are unable to maintain employment, go on social security disability in order to receive income to live on. Thinking: “What harm would it do if I apply for SSDI?”, I decided to fill out an application. Less than a month later, in August 2002, I got approved, and I am still on it today.

Two months later, in October 2002, I find a potential part-time job opening in Jackson, Michigan. The company, the Jackson Center for Independent Living, was a non-profit organization ran by and for disabled people. Once I read their newspaper ad seeking computer help, I realized that was the place where I wanted to work.

When I went to the job interview, I was surrounded by a group of disabled individuals, most of them in wheelchairs. Very nervous was I, as I met the company leader Tom Swain. After a long discussion with everyone there, I felt a little disappointed when I found out it wasn’t a paid position. However, after hearing its mission and vision statements, I decided to work there as a volunteer. Now I realize this was the place God wanted me to be.

At the JCIL, I became a VISTA volunteer, which stands for Volunteers In Service To America. Receiving a government stipend every two weeks to help pay for living expenses, I became the Coordinator of the Jackson Talent Exchange, a community program based upon the Time Dollars concept.

Both the Jackson Talent Exchange and Time Dollars were grounded on the principles of human decency, interdependency, building community, and the belief that “everyone has talents to offer to society, even the disabled.” How both programs work is that “a member utilizes their talents to help another in need, then receives credits based upon the hours they worked, which can be used to receive services from the helper or another person in program, in the future. So if John works three hours to help Sally mow her yard, then John gains three hours which he can use to receive help from Jerry, to teach John how to learn a computer program. The concept is to exchange talents to each other in need, which satisfy needs, grow interpersonal relationships, and grow community, through acts of kindness.

Being the lead coordinator of the Jackson Talent Exchange program, I felt very unconfident and insecure in my abilities to do the work, as I had no prior experience. I also had many fears of screwing things up, ingrained by my stepdad as a child.

At first, I felt very uncomfortable around my new co-workers, but that quickly ended, after I realized how loving, kind, and considerate everyone was. Tom Swain, Connie Hinton, James Cyphers, Brenda Bobon, Phil Lancaster, Parrish Stahl, and Beth Bufford (volunteer) were peers with a disability, a strong support system I desperately needed. Catalysts for great change and freedoms in my life; without them, my life would probably remain defeated, worthless, and fragile still today. I owe these friends my life.

Not only did these friends help me with insight, encouragement, and guidance, but their unselfish compassion and acceptance of me has helped me erase much of the shame, insecurities, and fears of my abuse. Their influence on me, in addition to the work of the Jackson Talent Exchange, made me realize that I, in spite of my illness, can and am a contributor to society. This belief, as you will later see, may have produced great change in the world around me.

The people at the JCIL were like parents and brothers and sisters I never had. Not only were they mentors to me, but they almost always listened to me in my troubles. Their influence together helped me to mature as an adult and also to accept myself, in spite of my disability. They were the beginning roots, in me learning the fact, that disabled people are the same as nondisabled individuals. We may have worse limitations than others, but we all have, in other areas, strengths to contribute to society; if we only see them, and make use of them in God’s designed way. That’s what I learned from my friends at JCIL, as well as from being the Coordinator of the Jackson Talent Exchange.

James Cyphers led me to Dr. Carl Rice, Jr., a former therapist of mine, who is now the board of commissioner in Leonia township of Jackson, Michigan. Similar to JCIL, Carl Rice also had made a major influence in my life, helping me to manage my mental illness, including experiences with abuse. Rice furthered my growth in self-esteem, my relationships with God and humans, fears and anxieties associated with my stepdad. He always told me to “follow the truth. It will set you free.”

Like a Goodwill Hunting story, Rice, in addition to friends at JCIL, became the starting roots of me believing “I can do all things through Christ with strengthened me”, not to mention “Nothing can separate me from God’s love.” Rice helped built the necessary stability and growth of my courage, confidence, and self-love, which has continued to blossom since he stopped being my therapist.

The Jackson Talent Exchange

Being the Coordinator of the Jackson Talent Exchange at first was very difficult for me; however, with the support of Rice and my friends at JCIL, I progressed with growing confidence. As the Planner, I recruited new members through the creation of brochures and flyers, wrote and gave speeches, planned community social events, and did much research. In relation to current members, I created a database used to keep track of member personal information, talent exchange transaction data, remaining balances in each member’s account, etc.

Connie was not just a helper of mine; she was, and still is, a true friend. Right now, she is the only person, other than Beth, that I see on a regular basis. Like a mother, she refers me as her “son”; and like a “son”, I view her like a “mother”. Connie ranks very high as one of the most influential person in my life in the last ten years. When one of us is in need, the other helps the other out. In essence, that is the vision behind Jackson Talent Exchange: to love one another, to be there when your brother or sister is in need, and to build relationships in the process.

disAbility Connections

Around 2004-2005, the Jackson Center of Independent Living merged with disAbility Connections. By then, my two-year limit of being a VISTA volunteer ended. DC, though, hired me as an employee to do the same job. At first, this created enormous anxiety in me. But in time, I became increasingly confident and comfortable in my duties.

At disAbility Connections, I made $10.30 a hour, working sixteen hours a week. In addition to JTE work, I was also a caregiver to Phil Lancaster, who was in a wheelchair. ( I did this job at JCIL also.) Since Phil was gay, I felt a little uncomfortable around him, especially after telling me: “If you were ever willing to have sex with me, I would be happy to do it!” It also seemed weird to help him go potty, as I daily slid his urinal bottle inside and down his sweatpants, so he could pee in it. Obviously, nothing happened between the two of us!

Phil and I did do a lot of activities outside of work together. I would either go to his group home, or he would JTA bus transportation services to my apartment. We would watch sports together, and as we grew as friends, we disclosed personal information to the other. Even though he would ask advice about his relationships problems with other homosexuals, I still listened and try to give advice, for he was my friend.

In 2010, Phil and I went to the Michigan Theatre on a November afternoon, to watch the University of Michigan versus Michigan State University football game on the big movie screen. The game was real good, but that wasn’t the eventful part of the day.

When I got home there were police cars, ambulance, and TV reporters at the crime scene of a murder at my apartment complex. I heard the murderer had a severe mental illness and decided to decapitate a woman. I was shocked at the site as I realized I lived the kitty corner from the building where the beheading took place. After the scene, I talked to Phil and others, and he was very supportive to me. That’s what friends are for.

The jobs of being a coordinator and a care giver, had at least one thing in common: it involved taking time out of your busy schedule, and using that time to help someone else less fortunate than you. It is about using the skills that God created each of us, for a greater purpose, to show love through acts of decency and kindness. Even though as a person you may not realize the impact of significance of your actions, the other person often does, and so does God, all the time. Showing love to another; people reciprocally utilizing their talents to help to the other in need; and building relationships and community, that was what the JTE and care giving is all about.

The Jackson Talent Exchange was terminated three years after existence, due to lack of growth in members . I blamed myself for the termination, even though one of my bosses, and my co-workers all told me “I did a good job”. Only God knows the truth, how effective my efforts were, in trying to produce a Jackson community that cares for someone other than themselves. I don’t know, but I know it, at least reinforced the significance, in my heart, the dire need of “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

In spite of the fact, that in this world, there is people to behead and murder others and that there is people who abuse and belittle one another, there is also good people living around us, and there is hope of a better world, because of love and self-sacrifice. We daily must find those people in need, and let the power of compassion do its work. Even if there seems like there is no growth outside your world, do it anyways! That is the spirit of the Jackson Talent Exchange.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Helen Keller

 

 

man footprints desert arrow direction

 

NY MENTAL ILLNESS RECOVERY STORY: VISITS WITH DAD

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My Mental Illness Recovery Story,  Chapter 18

Visits With Dad

 

 

Ever since the divorce of my real parents when I was two, I normally visited Dad once a year around Christmas. Infrequent visits like these, hardly gave me and Dad an opportunity to interpersonally grow together. It made strangers out of family, which until the last couple of years, seemed like the ideal situation. However, in spite of Leonard’s vices and poor past treatment of me, I still love my father.
Most of what I know about my father is what I heard from other family members. For example, mom told me that Dad spent a year in prison for selling cocaine to an undercover FBI agent. He, also, according to her, “made only one child support payment of $45 his entire life.”

Six years ago, when I was 34, Dad’s mom told me that “my father and his separated wife were members of an anti-government state militia, and that I should be careful in going in his garage alone, because they were weapons hidden in there.” Obviously, this statement is only based upon the comments of another. However, during that time period, I heard my dad’s woman say some “radical” comments in reference to the “government”.

When you hear “crazy” statements like these of your father, and since you see him but once a year, there become many question marks and awkwardness in trying figure out who your dad really is. Here, though, is my personal experiences I remember having with Dad:

During my early years as a child, I was always very scared when around him. Part of me dreaded seeing, while another part of me, really wanted to, as I hoped to experience love, acceptance, and affection from my father.

When I was around six years old, he gave me a small black comb for a Christmas gift. Unfortunately, I lost it. Getting real mad, Leonard used a dog leash to whip me in front of the family.

On a few Christmas’s, Leonard would tell me “he was going to pick me in the morning for a visit.” I would wait all morning and all day for him to come, and then he would call at night, making an excuse why he could not see me then.

When I was about fourteen, Butch showed me a Harley Davidson motorcycle, telling me “ this was my Christmas gift.” But then less than a minute later, he said, “Wait a minute! That motorcycle is too big for you to ride. I guess I will keep it myself.” I got nothing for Christmas that year.

The next year, my dad got me a Honda 200 SX four-wheeler, in which I really enjoyed playing with all the time. I had it for about three or four years, until I sold it to help purchase an automobile. What strongly influenced my decision to sell it was when Butch wanted it back, to give to me half- brother.

One year dad gave my mom’s mother a box of full orange juice cartons for Christmas. Years later, he bought her a squirrel feeder.

During another visit, Leonard was bragging to me that “my half-sister got into trouble with the law for car-jacking when she was fourteen”. I don’t know why my father thought that it was funny.

About four years ago, my black Bonneville had a problem with the defrost system. While it was defrosting the ice off of my windshield, my dad had a stupid idea. He talked me into, having me leave the car running (it was in the driveway of his mother’s house), while he took me in his truck for a drive to his house, which was about three miles away. Wanting to show me his garage, I told him, “I didn’t want my car just sit there and just run”. He responded to that comment, by saying, “What are you worried about, gas prices?” So that Bonneville kept on using gas until we got back to grandmother’s house about forty minutes later.

During the same trip, a cop car passed us, heading the opposite direction. Dad said something like this? “Those cops, why cannot cops leave people like me alone. They are like vultures, flying from above, getting in people’s way. People cannot get an honest break because of them. How are people supposed to earn a living with them around?”

Two years ago, Dad talks me into giving him a ride to the post office. The whole trip he complains about me driving my car too slow. We stop at a bank and he tells me to leave the car running, and that he’ll be out of the bank in a hurry. I start to wonder while he is in there, if he is going to rob the bank, or something, and if I am going to jail with him, if we get caught. I started to get real nervous of what was going to happen next as I was unsure what to do. Since I thought it was real stupid just to leave the car running, I turned off the ignition. He comes out, giving me a “turn the key” motion with his wrist, and then asks why I didn’t leave the car running as we left.

The same day, at his house, Butch shows me his bedroom. Inside the room, was a car motor – which I don’t know how he got in there – on a rack, with a bunch of tools and parts on the floor. I asked him “what’s up?”, and he tells me that “it’s too cold to work on his truck engine in the garage, so he works on it in his bedroom.”

In spite of all these shortcomings, I love my biological father. About four years ago, he expressed to me, his regrets of how he made a mess of my life. I told him: “I forgive him, and I love him.”

During the last couple Christmases, we spent quality time watching DVDs. It was a wonderful experience that I will always remember.

 

 

My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 14

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My Mental Illness Recovery Story,  Chapter 14

 

During my late stretch of working at disAbility Connections, I found another part-time job, this time at Goodwill Industries. Making minimum wage, I worked sixteen hours a week, in addition to my twelve at disAbility Connections.

Helping the company’s vice-president, I did clerical work: filing, data entry, and Microsoft Office. Six months later, I stopped working at disAbility Connections, due to lack of work. Now I was employed at only Goodwill..

About a year later, I stopped working for Carol, the vice-president, and then started doing tasks for Deb Davis, my new supervisor. For her, I became a TracView data entry specialist, which entailed doing car accidents reports for various U.S. cities and states. (Goodwill was hired by TracView to do contract work.). I did this work for about eighteen months.

After working for Deb and TracView, I did clerical work again, this time for Tracy Clark, the new human resources manager. Like I did for both Carol and Deb, I excelled in completing my job tasks for Tracy, even though initially, I had confidence issues. For Tracy, I did a lot of filing, plus data entry of employee and participants information.

For about two years, I helped Tracy Clark. Just like Carol and Deb, they were really nice supervisors. One day, Tracy gave me some of her boyfriend’s clothes, shirts he was trying to get rid of. I gave her and him two extra Little Big Town concert tickets that I received from a friend. Unfortunately, about two years later, around Christmas, time, Tracy Clark left Goodwill; but before she left, she got me a job, working inside the Goodwill retail store.

At the Argyle Goodwill retail store, I did a job requiring multi-tasking, collecting donations from Goodwill customers, and in my spare time, pricing the donated items. This job was extremely stressful for me, as my OCD, anxiety, and inclination not handle stress well, created troubles to perform both efficiently and effectively.

When multiple cars came simultaneously to the donation store to donate items, I would often get very anxious, especially when the bins that stored the donated items were full, and there wasn’t much room on the floor. Then, as I tried to fill out customer receipts and record items produced for Goodwill records, I would often make mistakes in the inventory count.

I also struggled a lot in pricing donations, as I would often price products egregiously too high or too low. I would also spend an inordinate time period trying to figure out what price to give items. Thus, Goodwill sent a job coach to work with me.

Unfortunately, the job coach was often rude and judgmental, making me angry, frustrated, and nervous. In spite of all, even though I was given supervisor talks about my inferior performance, this disabled person would be still employed at Goodwill, until I did something real stupid.

Unfortunately, after about eighteen months, I did do something ignorant. Experiencing extreme anxiety over the anniversary of “the choking teacher incident with Kelly Cook”, I approached a female co-worker to verbally vent my troubles. Telling her that “I got kicked out of school for choking a teacher”; that “I threatened to kill an officer in the Navy”; that “my dad was a former member of the state militia”, and that “my dad spent time in jail for selling cocaine”, the person I talked to, misconstrued what I said. After telling her supervisor, the Goodwill retail store office manager fired me. The reason: “Goodwill was afraid I would tell my story to a customer, and thus, ruin the company’s reputation, and thus, Goodwill would lose sales.”

Less than three months later, Aaron Taylor, a friend from church, invited me to attend the bible study group that he was in. Not doing anything on Wednesday nights anymore, I went. That decision turned out to be a great one, as Aaron overheard me telling someone that “I was unemployed and looking for work”. In short, Aaron Taylor, the Vice President of Allied Chucker, gave me a job offer on the spot. In essence, he created an Allied Chucker, sixteen hour a week position for me, so I could have income to live on. I worked there for about 20 months, until the company laid me off due to Allied financial problems.

At Allied Chucker, on most days, I used a broom and a dustpan to sweep the Shipping / Receiving plant. Other times, I swept outside. The quality of my work was awesome due to my OCD attention to detail; unfortunately, my productivity, at first, in doing it often needed work as I often bogged down in details. But in time and in repetition and in less fear of getting fired, I became much more efficient, as my Anafranil (new OCD medicine) really helped me with my OCD.

In addition, to doing floor sweeping duties, I also did banding, placed parts in bins and on pallets, sorted pallets, shredded paper, etc.

I struggled with both effectively and efficiently banding for a long time, but after a while, I was able to do it adequately. That was a major accomplishment for me in relation to my disability and mechanical incoordination. What enabled me to do it was perseverance, not perceiving my supervisor as stepdad, time, confidence, God, and also, the medication Anafranil, which since taking it, does a great job with my obsessions and anxiety.

Being a friend of the Vice-President, and having a disability, I was given lower production standards than others. In fact, a lot of times, it was like: “whatever I got done to help the company was a bonus”. Except for banding, I was left alone to work at my own pace and at times, “be my own boss”. As long as I worked hard, and didn’t “majorly screw things up”, my supervisor was pleased with my performance.

Working at Allied Chucker not only enabled me to get a paycheck each week, but also placed me into a friendly environment to learn how to work cognitively as I experimented with different task strategies. Working at Allied improved my capacities in developing procedures and plans in doings tasks. I also became better in handling pressure, working patiently in spite of time constraints, and overall confidence in doing jobs. My self-esteems also improved. Thanks Aaron!

My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 12

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Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 12

Abuse

Abuse

“In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest”.

William McKinley

 

In 1999, when I was 26 years of age, I was living with my mother and stepdad as I worked at Hutchinson FTS. One night, as I was eating before headed to my third-shift job, my stepdad started berating me because my grandfather let me temporarily use his truck for transportation, as my car was in a mechanic garage. At first, I tried to be silent when verbally abused. But after the pressure went beyond my emotional threshold, I smart-mouthed my stepdad, and the next thing I know we were in a physical fight.
Ashamed of losing another fight to him, I went to work with a partially-torn shirt and broken glasses. However, in spite of it all, God had a perfect plan as I saw Mike Leninger. After I told Mike about the fight, he told me “he was looking for a roommate. Then next thing I know, we were living together in Hillsdale, MI, at Carriage Parks Apartments.

I lived with Mike for about two years. He wasn’t a Christian but we still got along okay, most of the time. We didn’t push our differing beliefs to each other; however, I started to get tired of his secular ways, so I chose to spend more time in my room than before. He got tired of my uncleanliness and I was getting tired of seeing beer cans all over the place. Overall, Mike was a good guy, and I enjoyed living with him.

One day, the two of us, plus a friend we called “Stinky”, were riding in a car I was driving. Hating my job immensely, I overheard Mike and “Stinky” saying: “Hutchinson FTS was going to work seven days a week for a long while. Very agitated I became, as I was soon driving about 90 mph down the road. Finally, after telling me to slow down, I did.

Mike met a girl who was trouble. She was short, thin, and somewhat attractive. When I was in my room or away from home, she and Mike hung out in the living room. Mike said “he slept with her many times.”

In 2001, I move away from Mike and into a trailer park outside of town. The reason for my leaving was the fact that Mike let a drunk live with us without asking me first. Very ticked I was, as I saw a whole bunch of boxes and the alcoholic unpacking his possessions in the middle of our living room, when I entered my apartment.

One day I found the girl Mike was with homeless, so I sinfully let her temporarily stay with me. At first I thought I was doing the right thing, but in the end, I realized I wasn’t. After enticing me to use my credit card and car to take care of some business, I came to my senses and called Discover card and found out she racked up a bill of over $800. In the end, a friend from work (Steve) and my stepdad helped me and the police to kick the girl out of the trailer park. Even after finding out she had a history of doing similar stuff other boys, I felt sorrow for her and gave her twenty dollars. I never did have any sexual contact with her.

Around 2001, my OCD got diagnosed.

In 2001, after leaving the trailer park, I stayed again at my grandmother’s house. The fact my stepdad lived two houses from her home often made me both vigilant and nervous.

I remember watching TV in the sun room and then hiding into the bathroom as I saw his truck pull into the driveway. After he left the house I was in, I reentered the sun room to continue watching TV. Unfortunately, my stepdad hid the satellite TV remote control, and grandma and I searched for it for about a half hour until she called my stepdad. We didn’t think his prank was funny after he told us where he hid it.

A few months later, grandma decides to purchase an already-built home to be placed on her property across the road from her house. The plan was for me to live and pay rent there, so grandma and I could live independently. The problem was my stepdad lived two houses from there.

There was a lot of work that needed to be done in order for the place to be ready for work. When I wasn’t working, my stepfather and I worked on the property, which wasn’t too bright of an idea in relation to our past history. Even though I was 29 years old, I was still very afraid of him, as my mind constantly replayed the memories of what all he did to me in the past. So I constantly prayed to God for strength, courage, and the ability to do things properly in front of him. But still, I was very scared of him.

My stepdad and I were like oil and water working together – it doesn’t mix well. He was a very strict, volatile, overly perfectionistic, fault-finding, impatient worker; I was a meek, disabled, unconfident worker who makes mistakes easily when made nervous. Case in point:

One day working together alone, fear of making mistakes led me to make many errors which led me getting chewed out and sneered by my stepdad. As he continued the verbal abuse, I tried hard to ignore the emotional pain and anger of his abusive acts.

Unfortunately, I lost control of my emotions and behaviors as I came after him with a piece of wood that was already in my hands. He punched me in the nose, and then we had a wrestling fight, in which I got my butt kicked again. As my blood dripped out of my nose, I remember him saying “Yes, go home to your grandma and cry like a little baby!”

Grandma and I realized that my stepdad and I were unable to coexist together, so about a month later I moved to Litchfield, MI, to start anew again.

2002 – Got fired from Hutchinson FTS

In the spring of 2002, about nine months before moving to Litchfield, I got fired from Hutchinson FTS, for running bad parts one night when I was manic. Playing that game again, where my supervisor was “my stepdad” and I, the “abused kid”, I proved again “I was no good” by making another colossal mistake. And the abuse I received from that mistake: another terminated job.

My friend Steve tried to save my job as we talked to the company’s human resources manager. Nevertheless, Hutchinson FTS still fired me.

Ironically, the job I once hoped to depart now became the one I couldn’t live without. The place I called “hell” was the place I desperately wished to be at. How am I going to pay my bills? Where do I look to find a job? With my terrible job history, who would ever hire me?

Six months go by and no job. Economy sucks and my work history is even worse. What do I do? Where do I go? Please God help me!
Philippians 4:19 “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which has been given to us in Christ Jesus.

One Saturday morning, after finishing a third shift night at work, I hurried home to get a few hours of sleep before TV football started at noon. On my way home, driving about 70 mph on a country road, the sun got into my eyes, and the next thing I know, I ran over a school crossing sign. Thankfully, no one was near the scene. However, the accident damaged the car, and the game I watched at home was a blow-out.

 

 

 

My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 11

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My Mental Illness Recovery Story,  Chapter 11

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

From 1999 to 2002, I worked at Hutchinson FTS. Feeling underemployed, I experienced the ups and downs of manic depression. Doing monotonous, repetitive work six days a week drove me nuts, as my bipolar creativity was not being utilized. Viewing the place as a prison, I behind his back, referred the boss as Joe Hitler.

Seemingly every hour of the work day I would envision me doing something great someday, something special, something beautiful to do, sometime soon. Doing a job that simultaneously uses my creativity and problem-solving abilities, in conjunction with helping others, started to become an obsession, rather than just a desire or need.

Putting a part in your hand, placing the part in the machine, pressing go, watch it spin, take it out, look at it, and put it on skid – doing that repeatedly depressed me. For I wanted to be in control of what I did and how to do it – I wanted to think, plan, and achieve things spontaneously and imaginatively. I wanted to create, teach, inspire, and lead. Not knowing what the dream might be, not sure if it would ever be one, and if there is, do I have the ability to do? Am I being selfish and self-centered, or is God guiding me toward something greater than where I am now? Should I be just happy I have a job, and be content where I am, or should I test the waters and ride the rapids, to wherever it leads?

Believing Hutchinson FTS would never lead to self-actualization, my mind – as my body movements did the work – kept on dreaming and plotting ways to get out of the factory and into freedom. My first plan was to improve my HTML skills in hopes of getting a paid, web page designer job. Unfortunately, even though the material was relatively simple to understand, my OCD would cause me to get bogged down in details. Thus, web design, at the moment, became a dead-end street. A year later, I took a correspondence, bookkeeping course at Harcourt Learning Direct – I got a 90 percent grade overall in the training. But unfortunately, I found no jobs in this terrible job market.

Feel defeated and dejected, I felt like I was in a prison doing work. Instead of planning your own methods and goals to do things, you were forced by a “tyrant” to do things in a repetitive, mundane, exact methodology. You were told how to do things, and you had to do it their way, and to their productivity standards, or you will be “considered no good”, and possibly fired. I was a free thinker, who desperately wanted to make use of his business management skills and education. I didn’t believe in the vision of producing parts; instead, I wanted to make change, great change in a world that sought love, hope, and freedom. I often felt “if I had to spend my entire life doing something I hated so much, and not do something that really mattered, I may as well be dead, because everything in my soul was already dead.” I sought freedom, even though back then, I couldn’t clearly define what freedom was. I just felt the intense desire to achieve a dream that mattered in my heart.

The desire to achieve this unseen vision – not knowing what it was or where it may lead – felt so strong and intense that it made me sick, as I feared it wouldn’t be attempted. For some reason, whether it be a revelation from God, wishful thing, a strong desire to be useful, or some bipolar-generated, grandiose thinking, or a combination of both, I felt it many days and nights. My heart ached to be free, even though I didn’t know what that meant or how to achieve it, I just knew I must experience it.

Even though depressed and hating my job, I continued to do my best on most days. One moment I would give 150 percent effort; on other days, minimal, depending upon my mood. Perhaps what tyrannized me the most wasn’t the place (Hutchinson FTS), but rather than the stronghold (mental illness) that became the dictator of my hopes and dreams.

At times, I wondered if I was being wrong for wanting something better – or should I be just thankful and content with what have and where I am. My family seemed to tell me the latter; my heart, the former. I didn’t know what or where God intended me to do or be. With all these closed doors, I received when looking for new jobs, I became afraid I found the answer.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days, when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you.”

 

 

 

My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 10

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Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 10

hope_for_the_hopeless

 “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Corrie ten Boom


 

The summer is over and I back in school for my last semester. My bipolar meds were good, and the school workload was relatively lighter than previous semesters. Desperately hoping to find a high-paying job for the wrong reasons, my chances, other than from God, was in the hands of Professor Duane Dobbert, the teacher who led me to my manic depression diagnosis.

Like a Goodwill Hunting story, Dobbert created a one-on-one psychology class to help me with my personal, bipolar, and vocational issues. He became a mentor which listened, guided, taught, and encouraged me. Like Matt Damon in the movie, I was a formerly-abused child with enormous potential but many roadblocks.

The career path Dobbert had in mind for me was to help disabled people meet their needs. The concept of bettering and making a difference in the lives of those with similar problems like me intrigued me. Who other than another disabled person would understand the pains and sufferings of a disabled individual? So Dobbert took me to a place where those with physical illnesses needed personal care. The organization, after I met their disabled clients, sent a letter to Dobbert, telling them “how impressed they were in my interactions to those with disabilities. “

I was about to accept the job offer when I found out it would be minimum wage. My pride suddenly shunned the idea of working there. “How would people think I am successful and great if I made those wages?”. “Aren’t college students supposed to be have high-paying jobs? “. “if I am a college student, and I don’t make a lot of income, it would definitely prove I am incompetent and no good. Then I wouldn’t be loved and accepted!”

Instead of asking what God wanted, instead of surrendering my will to Christ, and instead of listening to the advice of my dad’s mom and others, who thought I should find any job available, I continued to look for premium jobs. It seemed like no one would want to hire  me with my previous terrible job history.

Eventually I became so desperate for a job that I went back to Durability Plus for work. But once I was about to work there, I realized that was a bad idea. Eventually, my stepdad made me fill out an application at Hutchinson FTS to be a machine operator, which my pride resisted. Trying not to get hired during the interview, I still ended up with the job.

 

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My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 9

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Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 9

 

Journey toward freedom

Journey toward freedom

 “We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world”.  

Helen Keller

 

 

Once I found out I had bipolar disorder, I was both excited and stunned. I briefly previously read about the illness in my psychology book, but had no clue I had it. Renewed hope for a better life, and of “freedom”, I started imagine what “high-paying job” I would get in the future. I also wondered what “normal” meant and felt like.
Before prescribing with new meds, I had almost complete confidence in my new physiatrist’s abilities: “He is a licensed doctor, and he has probably treated hundreds of patients, so he must know what he was doing, right?” So I figured, he would give me some pills, and immediately, I would be “normal”. Right? Wrong!

The medication Depakote made me real sick and weak. (I think the doctor later told me “it was killing some of my white blood cells”. ) Unfortunately, I was in the midst of my core computer classes – and they were very intensive and difficult to learn. Is this déjà vu to what happened to me in the Navy? Am I going to make it this time through school?

Striving to reach my dreams, and to prove to all, I was good, competent, and worthy of love, there were many times I felt like giving up. Every day I prayed and prayed for God’s deliverance, but many days it felt like it was a futile action. However, on a day I badly needed hope and encouragement, I found it from an unlikely source.

Just before one of my computer classes was about to start, I decided to stroll to the pop machine to release some anxiety and sadness. As my weary heart felt like breaking, I encountered some of the players of the men’s basketball team, the ones I exhorted during games. When they saw me, they asked me what was going on with me. After telling them, like cheerleaders, they in unison gave me a cheer, and said my name, and exhorting me to continue the fight. After they left, I felt almost teary eyed, as they “paid it forward” to many times I cheered them during their games. Their acts of love inspired me to continue the fight against my stronghold as I realized I was both loved and cared for.

As I struggled to handle both school and the meds of my illness, I told my teachers about my diagnosis. Instructors like Matthews, Largent, Brillhart, Dobbert, and Syler became very supportive of me. Matthews did that as I was encouraging him to be strong in some medical problems he had; he later told the class “I (me) am a really good guy, once you get to know him.” Karl Largent also became a friend of me; one day he wrote on one of my graded assignments: “Keep on trying. I see considerable improvement in your writing.” After I presented a PowerPoint presentation to the class, and I kept flubbing up, I saw Syler teary-eyed as I left the classroom in tears, as the project was 25 % of my total class grade.

In a Dan Matthews class, I learned how to create web pages using HTML. This acquired skills of learning how to independently learn how to use web design software would prove useful in later years for me, in unpredictable ways, about ten years after my college graduation.

Ironically, I participated in my graduation ceremony, the summer before that last semester. I was real nervous, especially after being next in line to receive my diploma as they skipped my name. They said some foreigner’s name, and then, a female one; so I got out of line, and headed toward back my seat in rejection, when someone noticed the mistake. The business school chair whispered to me when we shook hands, saying, “Thanks for handling it well”.

DURABILITY PLUS

Durability Plus Engines
During the summer of June 1998, six months before finishing my studies at TSU, I realized I needed a summer job for income. Creative Dining Service, where I washed dishes for the university, didn’t need any help at this time. For a month, I didn’t find any job.

Unfortunately, I will never forget working at Durability Plus Engines, a father -and son-private business, in association with motor engines. A female at my physiatrist office told me about the position.

During my first day, I washed cars using a shammy. I also did “cold calling” phone calls, with the objective of making sales. Durability Plus was an extremely stressful job as the boss, Greg Long, was very hyperactive, awfully confusing in his instructions, and strict in details. That didn’t mix well my illness.

After the first day was over, I enjoyed both a steak dinner and waterskiing at the boss’s lake property. I thought “this may not be so bad after all, working at Durability Plus”. “Boy, I was wrong!”
The more I was around Greg, the more I believe he was crazy and a crook. First, he kept on calling me “Papa Smurf”. He would say “Papa Smurf, do this” . . .”Papa Smurf, do that.” . . . “Come here, Papa Smurf” . . . “I got a job for you, Papa Smurf”. Secondly, he sent me to stores to return items without a receipt. He taped up a package containing two black and two silver batteries; an unopened TV dinner that was past its expiration date, and two different kinds of light fixtures in a package. Like a fool, I went to these businesses, trying to get his money back.

One day, he sent me to a shop rag cleaning services business, to exchange his dirty shop rags with new ones. Before Greg sent me, he told me: “If you have any problems with them accepting our dirty rags, call me and I will talk to them.” So I went to the company to exchange rags, when a customer service rep said to me: “We cannot accept your dirty rags. Mr. Long doesn’t have an account her. We told him several times he needs an account before we do business with him, but he keeps sending people like to try to exchange rags, and each time, we tell them, we cannot do business without having an account.”

In fear of losing my job, I call Greg Long like as instructed. Dialing his number on the customer service phone, with the rep standing right next to me, I accidently put the call on speaker phone. After explaining the situation with Greg, he said the following: “Tell the rep if he doesn’t exchange the rags, we’ll take our shop rags and go to their nearest competitor, and do business with them. Don’t let these people take any crap from you.” The rep, hearing the entire dialogue, angrily ordered me: “You can leave and take your rags and tell Mr. Long ‘to go ahead and take the rags to someone else. We aren’t going to do business with him.” So I returned the dirty rags back to Durability Plus.

I also remember Greg hiring a new employee and then firing him two hours later, after the new worker came back from an errand to get pizza for lunch. On another occasion, being sent to get paint from a business, Greg’s son warned me not to tell the business “We are from Durability Plus” because in the son’s words: “Because they won’t do business with us if you do.”

Working for Greg was extremely draining, as I often perceived Long being like my abusive stepdad. I gave 150 percent effort almost every day to avoid losing the job. Feeling anger, depression, frustration, and fear, I worked 45 hours a week, doing: sandblasting, power washing parts, data entry, sales, washing cars, and running errands. Getting paid for two weeks work, he paid me two hundred dollars cash!

Greg had the nerve to say to me: “If you don’t have sufficient money to pay your bills, I make good loan deals.” In response to me getting enraged and threatening to quit, I was told by him: “Don’t quit yet! I believe in you! If you keep working a little longer, I promise I will make you a very successful and wealthy man.” I received the same wages at Durability Plus, in spite of the fact I made more car sales.

Desperately wanting to quit several times, I finished working there until the summer was over. There I experienced much anxiety and emotional pressure with my mental stronghold. Perhaps the experience I remember the most when working at that “sweatshop” had to do with me driving a used sports car to Montpelier.

One day Greg had me take my license plate off my car and put it on an automobile I never seen before. It was a middle-aged sports car. He then told me to “stay bumper to bumper to his son” as he was to guide me to some destination in Montpelier; where in Montpelier, I had no clue.
Inside the city limits of Angola, In, I struggled to keep up with the kid, as he was driving 60 mph in a 35 mph area. I didn’t know what to do, but to follow him. Surprisingly, I didn’t get caught while in town.

Outside Angola, on US 20, he is driving over 90 mph which made it hard for me to keep up with him; especially, when he passed two semi-trucks around a curve going approximately that speed. This made me real nervous and uncertain what to do, as I was I didn’t want to get killed or lose my license. So I tried my best to stay close, until he became out of my sight.

Stopping at a local diner, I asked someone if they knew any place in Montpelier that involved used sports cars. He had no idea. After leaving the building and headed to my car, I hear a horn repeatedly honking. It was Greg’s son, who turned his car around and found me, realizing he lost me.

As I got in the car, the kid started driving like a maniac; again he lost me, and then turned around to find me. We ended up at a car auction in Montpelier. That is where I was to take the automobile – a place to sell the car I was driving.

After the silent auction was over, I drove back to Durability Plus Engines with my license plate on a different vehicle. Thank God, the day was over, as I was driving home in my own car.

 

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My Mental Illness Recovery Story

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Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 8

Imprisoned by life

Imprisoned by life

 “Often the test of courage is not to die but to live.”

Vittorio Alfieri


 

Tri-State University
Completing my associate’s degree at JCC, I decided to transfer to Tri-State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computers information systems. If it wasn’t for the persuasion of a JCC instructor, I would have looked for employment and not have transferred anywhere. That decision to go to TSU changed my life radically.

Just like in the Navy and at JCC, I greatly struggled again with fear, low self-confidence, and my unknown mental illness. The problem, though, in contrast to JCC, the curriculum at TSU was very intensive and difficult to get good grades. My negative thinking intensified my mental illness, as well as creating much conflict with TSU instructors and students.
I remember the first day of school at TSU as I had Dan Matthews for my C programming language instructor. He was a good man, but similar to other TSU teacher, wouldn’t take any crap from any of his students. Matthews was also often reluctant to give answers to our questions, but rather, to force us to independently problem-solve so we can hopefully be self-sufficient someday in the workforce. These two facts did not mix well with my “learning disability”.

My OCD and bipolar problems immediately caused conflict with Matthews and other TSU teachers. My obsessions of not getting good grades produced reassurance compulsions in me – thus, I would countlessly interrupt the teacher’s lectures to ensure I understood properly what was being said in the classroom. These interruptions led Matthews, on the first day of class, to send me to the school chair in hopes of having me removed from the university. Thankfully, I was allowed to continue my schooling at Tri-State University.

Karl Largent was my English instructor. My manic depression as well as my OCD created conflict with him. He also didn’t seem to like the fact I was a Christian. Largent allowed people in the class to make fun of me, and at times, he participated in the activities. When it was time for me to re-enroll for next semester’s courses, he told me “not to take any more of his classes, because he didn’t want me in there”. The fact, I had “three of the class’ top ten worst English written sentences” perhaps influenced him to tell me “I might as well give up writing, because I don’t have what it takes to be a good writer.”

In spite of the rejection, my mental illness, my fears, my wavering self-confidence, and the enormous pressure I continued to place upon myself, I remained strong and got good grades at Trine University. In fact, I made the National Dean’s List for two straight years. However, it was an enormous struggle and the power of Christ to make that happen for me. However, classes that had assignments that lack structure became very difficult for me to accomplish. And there was many more moments where my peculiar behaviorism, resulting from my mental illness, caused conflict and agitation to classmates and teachers.

When taking a timed test, when I needed to ask the teacher a question, I would often try to save time by getting out of my chair and then sprinting to the teacher’s desk, ask the question, and then sprint back to my chair, to continue the test. Obviously, that caused disruptions, especially when one time, I tripped over a desk, making a loud noise. That is one reason why some students asked Professor Brillhart to have me removed as a student of the class.

In spite of enormous rejection I received from students and teachers, I still made friends in school. Some of them were members of men’s basketball teams. During their games, I would cheer very loud and shout exhortations to them, in order to inspire and motivate them play hard and to believe in themselves, especially when facing adversity. Sometimes I would get real excited, and people would laugh, including some of our players on the bench, but I didn’t care. I remembered how bad it felt not to do well in basketball, so I desperately cheered, so they wouldn’t experience what I felt before. Because of that reason, I didn’t care as much as looking like a fool.

Each semester I watched Braveheart, for inspiration in hopes of me someday finding freedom from my problems. In my classes and in life, I strove to be brave like William Wallace. I even imagined some of my rejecting teachers and students as being Longshanks and the Englishmen.

In spite of all successes in school, I still struggled greatly with my unknown mental illness. The more I failed and felt rejected, the greater then intensity I dreamed and obsessed of experiencing success and freedom. Mania’s grandiose thinking made me believe “I had the ability to change the world” until other areas of my mental illness made me fail, and thus, believe, “I was incompetent as hell”. Like a teeter-totter, my confidence and abilities fluctuated greatly, due to my untreated chemical imbalances, as well as my negative thinking.

Bipolar disorder was like a “roller coaster going up and down rapidly and out of control”. Trying to rectify the past – Kelly Cook, Navy, job firings, and the abuse – only made it go more violently. If I only accepted what happened before, and self-accepted myself, a lot of the momentum of “roller coaster” would go away. But I didn’t, and I consequently emotionally suffered.

During my senior year, I was driving home from college one night, and my mind was in the depression cycle. Listening to Satan’s lies, I started to believe suicide may be the best option for all my troubles. Desperately needing hope and encouragement, I was entertaining thoughts of driving my car off the road and into death. However, when I need Him the most, God played the song, “The River” by Garth Brooks, which inspired me. I felt God telling me: “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me.”

My economics and psychology instructor, Duane Dobbert, saved my life. In my struggles, Dobbert took an interest in me and eventually led me to the university counselor, who steered me to a physiatrist, who diagnosed my bipolar disorder. This was approximately six months after God played that song.
God never lets go of His children. When you feel like giving up, please read 1 Corinthians 10:13:

1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”


 

“You are never alone or helpless. The force that guides the stars guides you too.”
Shrii Anandamurti

 

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My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 7

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Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 7

depressed man

 

“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”

Robert H. Schuller

 

 

 


 

 

After the military, I immediately entered the workforce, but repeatedly got fired due to my disability. Doing factory work, in most jobs, I didn’t last more than a month. So I decided to go to college.

In 1994, when I was twenty-one years old, I started going to Jackson Community College in pursuit of an associate’s degree in computers. Because I was in the Navy, I qualified for some pell grants that I didn’t have to pay back. It was, though, a little embarrassing, to submit my DD-214 military discharge papers, which identified my reason for Navy dismissal (psychological / personality disorders).

My unknown illness and low self-confidence, just like in military school, made learning difficult; but in the long run, I excelled as JCC classes were much easier than the ones I took in the Navy. Most of the classes I got either a 4.0 or 3.5; to get those high scores, I spent hours and hours making flashcards to memorize information. I did especially good in giving speeches and doing computer work.

At JCC, I took computer programming classes (Visual Basic, COBOL, BASIC, dBASE IV, etc.) which were relatively easy to learn, as there is much structure in writing computer programs, etc. This reduced my OCD’s tendencies to get bogged down in details. I also took basic writing classes. At first, I struggled, but I did well as the teacher’s homework wasn’t real intensive.

 

Dawn and Valerie

While attending JCC, I lived with my grandparents (mom’s parents). One day, while studying, I got an anonymous phone call from one a girl in my political science class. (The teacher handed out a student phone number listings of everyone in our class). Her name was Dawn Geissler.

Dawn asked me out on a date. She was a pretty, a little heavyset, but still good looking. Obviously, since I never been on a date before, I resoundingly said “yes”. We watched a movie in Coldwater; afterwards we went out to eat. It was really good night, even though I felt really nervous. Since I didn’t believe in premarital sex, we never did have intercourse.

On another date, before we left my grandparents’ house, grandma was crying heavily as her dog Sugar died. After returning home from the date about four or five hours later, grandma had a new dog living with her. Dawn and I thought it was comical.

Another date involved going to a country line dancing club, the Stampede, in Quincy, Michigan. I hated having to conform to the choreographed- dance moves that everyone else was doing. So I started my own dance routine, dissimilar to what other dancers were doing. Back then, I was a very wild dancer who had a lot of stamina, in which I could dance extremely fast for several songs without resting.

A month later, my inexperience of being around women had the best of me. One night, kissing in the car, Dawn asked me to go steady. Afraid of losing her, I said “yes”. Never having a girl before, I became infatuated with the experience of being around her, but I didn’t truly love her – if she didn’t go so fast in the relationship, things might have been different. However, what made me nervous was the fact she was divorced with a kid, and she was quickly looking for a husband.

During this time, I met a mega-attractive woman named Valerie, who was about ten years older than me. She was a realtor at Action Reality, about two miles from home. I spent a lot of time there, as her boss hired me to do lake property work.

I talked to Valerie a lot when I was at the office, which made me real excited and happy. Soon I became very obsessive in wanting to be around her. After finishing my employment at Action Realty, I continued to visit her. I screwed up things when I bought her a birthday day, which happened after me Dawn broke up. Valerie then put an end to the visits; thus I had no woman.

While working at Action Realty, I remember using a scythe to cut high grass, when I lost the tool in high weeds. I got frustrated as I spent 10 – 15 minutes looking for it. So, I prayed to God to help me find it. The next thing I know, after taking a step forward, I step on the scythe and it smacked me directly in the groin. I was on the ground for a while, moaning in pain.

 

 


 

Studying

 

 

My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 5

 

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Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 5

 

 Fearful and afraid

Fearful and afraid

 “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”

Florence Nightingale


 

 

 

Nuclear school

A few weeks after boot camp, I began nuclear school. No one believed I could make it through nuclear school, as students were intensely tested both academically, not to mention our capacity to handle extreme pressure. According to the academy, “only very few out of a hundred graduate from the school and become a nuke!”

I incorrectly believed if I made it through the school, I would be perceived “competent” by everyone, including my stepdad and real dad. Unfortunately, my undiagnosed mental illness, my flailing confidence, and my fears of rejection and shame caused me to fail again. Manic depression, OCD, and the pressure of the school, etc. made me feel real sick, as I sacrificed sleep and placed enormous stress upon myself to succeed.

I only lasted four weeks with a 1.68 GPA. This defeat hurt me emotionally for a long time, as my OCD obsessions of “having to prove myself I am good through performance”, my “all or nothing” mentality of defining success, and the highs and lows of manic depression made each day very overwhelming to handle. Especially, with my illness still undiagnosed.

After nuclear school, the Navy had me work as a Navy cafeteria worker. I mopped, washed dishes, assisted cooks, clean grills, etc. Even though I had friends, I still felt rejected by many higher ranking officers. My cafeteria bosses seemed to always look for things I did wrong, seemingly more than they did to other shipmates.

The Mess Hall inspection

One day while working at the galley (military cafeteria), I was cleaning a stove grill using a brick. My Navy work shirt got stained with grease, as I was working very hard and rapidly. Unfortunately, just to give me a hard time, an officer decided to give me a uniform inspection. I failed, mainly because of my grease-stained shirt.

After the inspection, the officer gave me the following instructions: at lunchtime, I must walk to my barracks, take a shower, put on a clean uniform, and walk back to the galley, and be ready for re-inspection, before the half-hour lunch break is over. He then told me: “if you hurry and don’t waste any time, you should have just enough time to be back in time for the inspection”.

After he left, I realized I had a major problem: I had no ironed uniform in my room that was inspection-ready. Realizing there would be insufficient time for me to go to my barracks, iron a pair of pants and shirt, and then do everything else I was supposed to do in the allotted time, I suddenly became very scared and worried. What am I going to do?

Pondering the situation, I conceived a plan. It was a terrible plan, but it was a plan.

About two hours before lunch time started, I talked to a shipmate at the galley, asking the individual: “If I sneak in and hide in the back of your van, will you drop me off nearby by barracks, so I can quickly get a different set of clothes, my iron, liquid wax, etc., and then meet you by the gate in about twenty minutes to take back to the galley, unnoticed?” Surprisingly, my friend said: “Yes”.

After getting in the back of his van, my new friend drives me pass the gate and then eventually, around the corner of my barracks where he drops me off. Once out of the van, I think, “This will be easier than I thought”. Unfortunately, as I started walking, I saw senior chief Bernardo talking to a lieutenant. I thought: “Crap. I cannot let them see me, or I will be in trouble.”

So I anxiously turned around and walked away from the barracks, when I felt my head, and realized I was still wearing a galley hat, and not a Navy cover. “If some officer sees me walking around with a paper hat on my head, I certainly would be in big trouble! What do I do now?” , my brain said.

Walking around the barracks’ restricted area where troublemakers reside, I saw a shipmate and asked him “if he would be willing to exchange his cover for my galley hat”. After promising I would return his cover to him real soon, he agreed.
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Realizing I didn’t have much time left before I had to meet the van driver at the appointed place, I decided to try to walk by Bernardo and the lieutenant, as they were standing a few feet from each other, face to face, and still talking. Very anxious I was, as I took one step after another, trying to nonchalantly walk them, praying they won’t see me. Thankfully, I walked by them, without being noticed.

As I entered the barracks, the person at the front desk told me to “STOP”, for he immediately wanted to talk to me. In fear of getting in trouble, I ignored him and ran up to the steps and into my room. I then hurriedly grabbed a set of clothes, my iron and iron board, and a bottle of liquid wax. Instead of going down the steps and pass the guard at the front desk, I exited the building through a door that said “DO NOT ENTER”. Frantically I next made it to the place where I was supposed to meet the van driver.

Standing inside a phone booth, I waited and waited for the van to go by. No dice. In fear of missing my ride, I heavily started praying and worrying. Soon the officer – in charge of our barracks – went by in a jeep. I thought: “Oh crap! I hope he didn’t see me.”

Finally, I saw the van. With my sea bag in my hand, I entered the back door of the vehicle and hid. Soon we made it back to the galley. A shipmate then grabbed my sea bag and placed it in a room: a vacant place to iron my clothes during the lunch hour.

At lunchtime, I started ironing. I thought: “Man I fooled them. I made it through this mess.” Unfortunately, after about five minutes of steaming, I realized I was in big trouble. Both the shirt and pants I was pressing had a button missing!

Leaving the galley building, I ran as fast as I could, heading to the barracks. Fear and anxiety of getting in trouble by the uniform inspector fueled my energies. I knew I wasn’t going to make it in time, but I continued to run fast anyways, in case I was wrong. I slowed down a couple of times to catch my breath for about fifteen seconds each, and then I continued to run again until I finally made it to the quarters.

Enter the barracks building, the guard told me to stop. Realizing I didn’t have much time left, I ignored him as I sprinted up the steps and into my room. I slowed down a couple of times to catch my breath for about fifteen seconds each, and then I continued to run again until I finally made it to the quarters. I hurriedly ironed my clothes, took a two minute show, and changed my uniform. Running out of time, I walked down the steps in defeat. Finally, I listened to the guard, who told me that “an officer wanted to talk to me right now!” Fear of getting in trouble for multiple reasons, I entered the officer’s office.

The female officer told me: “I have orders for you to go to Great Lakes to take schooling in the MM/EM field (machinist mate / electrical mechanical) which is in Chicago, IL. Pack your stuff immediately for you are scheduled to leave the base later today.”

Since the galley officer, who ordered the inspection, had no jurisdiction over the female officer, who gave me orders to leave the base, I didn’t have to complete the inspection. If I only listened to front desk guard when he said: “HALT” the first time, I would have found out about my orders to leave Orlando much sooner, and I would have had no need to continue with my inspection preparation. I went through HELL for nothing!

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“Life’s trials are not easy. But in God’s will, each has a purpose. Often He uses them to enlarge you.”   Warren Wiersbe

 

 

 

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My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 4

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Mental Illness Recovery Story , Chapter 4

Prayer in Adversity

Prayer in Adversity

 

“Courage is fear that said its prayers.”

Dorothy Bernard

The Navy

At eighteen, I joined the United States Navy in hopes of becoming a nuclear reactor technician. In doing this, I hoped to prove to myself and others I could be successful in life, proven by successfully doing Navy’s most difficult and prestigious job. Desperately wanting to rid myself of the shame I felt from previous failings became an obsession my mind wouldn’t forget. Unfortunately, my unknown mental illness and lack of confidence made things real difficult for me in the Navy.

 

It Tickles

 

Before I was officially enlisted in the Navy, I had to go through a physical exam in Lansing, MI. During the screening, my bipolar mania embarrassed me again:

I remember that August 24, 1992 day, where I and a bunch of recruits were in rows, standing in military attention, wearing nothing but our underwear. One by one, we waited for our turn to see the military doctor, who was in a booth, with a blanket covering his medical station. Even though no one outside the booth could see what was going on inside, almost everyone could hear the dialogue between the doctor and the recruit.

One by one, the doc instructed each of us to “pull down out underwear” in order to check for hernia issues. When we heard a potential shipmate give a “gulp” noise, I and many others suddenly became nervous, of what will happen to us, when it is our turn to see the doctor.

As I entered into that booth, I felt really nervous as I dropped my underwear in front of the military doctor. As he was touching my privates, I gave a “nervous laugh” as I suddenly felt uncomfortable with what the doctor was doing to me. After I laughed nervously, the surprised physician asked me: “What’s wrong? Does it hurt?” Not knowing what to say or do, I said the only thing that came to my mind, “No, it tickles!”

The doctor seemed stunned at the comment; so did the recruits outside the booth. Many thought I was a homosexual; so I was made fun of by some, and treated harshly by others. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of many mishaps I had in the Navy.

 

Boot camp

Orlando, FL, was the site of my boot camp. Starting on the first day, we were taught how to fold our clothes, military style. Everything had to be perfectly done in a time pressure situation. Unfortunately mania, my OCD fears, my lack of self-confidence, military officers treating my harshly (like my stepdad), and my inability to handle pressure properly, made learning very difficult for me. What made things worse for me, is that every shipmate in our division had to do tons of push-ups because of my screw-ups.

Everyone laughed at my push-ups, as the form looked like “someone trying to hump the floor”. The fact that “shipmates were laughing” made our drill sergeant real angry; thus, we all had to do more and more push-ups, which would cause more laughter and more push-ups.

Push-ups weren’t the only bizarre behaviorisms of this manic-depressive person . In fear of not being quick enough to pass these timed tests, I would often also dive on the floor, roll around, slide around, jump to my feet, and fall on my knees, as I folded my clothes. I wasn’t trying to be funny, I just felt like I had to save every second possible, especially since my untreated OCD caused inefficiencies in my pursuits of being both perfect and quick in doing these inspections. Not bad for a person going into the nuclear reactor field.

During my boot camp, company commanders would compete amongst themselves to see whose crew was trained the best. Unfortunately, for my two drill sergeants, I became, in their eyes, a hindrance toward success. So the lead company commander had me take everything out of locker and put it all in a sea bag. He then ordered me to hide into a room with a blanket over the door window. A higher ranking officer was supposed to come in our barracks to give a “rah-rah” speech, and I was being told by my drill sergeant, to hide from this guy coming in.

When the “big chief” did “roll call”, and he came to my name, my lead company commander told the individual “I never made it to the division”. I felt both little scared and rejected as my ears were listening, on the other side of the wall, to the sounds made by the group. Unintentionally, I accidently bumped my head on the bottom of the table I was under; consequently, something fell on the floor, producing a noise.

“What was that?” asked the “big chief”.

“Uh, Uh, it was nothing. You didn’t hear a thing!”, I heard my company commander anxiously reply.

Luckily, “my cover was not blown”. Soon the meeting had ended. My two company commanders told me to go in their office, as they wanted to talk to me. Nervously, I entered. The next thing I know, I was telling my company commanders funny stories of things that happened to me in the past. So they decided to hide me from inspections given by officers outside the barracks.

In-house “fold and stow” inspections I participated in; ones led by those outside the group, my company commander would constantly send me to the dentist – just to get me out of the barracks before the inspectors come in. Many times, by the time I get to the dentist’s office, the office would be closed for the day. However, once our barrack’s inspections started, no one outside the barracks was allowed to enter the room, until the inspections were done. That was how I got out of inspections.

In addition to folding clothes, I also struggled heavily in marching correctly. Seemingly every time I took a step on my left foot, everyone was on their right foot, and vice versa. To avoid being kicked in the leg, by the foot of the shipmate marching directly behind me, I would constantly hop to the other foot quickly. Many times, I would get marching commands confused; for example, I would do a “to the rear march” when I wasn’t supposed to, which means “I would suddenly pivot my right foot and do a 180 degree turn”, in the opposite direction, when I wasn’t supposed to do. The net result is that I would run into the shipmates behind me (who were still marching in the same direction as I was before). We would then get chewed out, and then have to do push-ups, etc.

I was our company commander’s “little buddy”. Even though I had to do a lot of push-ups, and got chewed out by him a lot, he seemed to like me (not sexually). One day, another drill sergeant, Chief Britt, approached our group after we finished marching, and asked us: “Which one of you is your company commander’s ‘little buddy’?” I was scared at first, in fear of having to do push-ups, or some other sort of punishment; however, after Chief Britt found out it was me, we later joked around a bit.

Unfortunately, about a week or two later, officers outside our company division came in and gave our crew a surprise “fold and stow” inspection. Since the inspection was unannounced, I had no chance to “see the dentist”. So I was forced to participate in the company inspection, in which I failed miserably.

After failing the inspection, I was sent to a “fold and stow” remedial class. I was the only participant in the group, and there was no teacher. Every day – other than eating, sleeping, marching, exercising, and working – all I did was practice folding my clothes. To avoid doing the same regimen another week, I had to pass the examination at the end of the previous week. Thank God, I passed the test after only seven days.

Held back a week due to the remedial class, I joined the 1082 company division, which was a week behind my previous company. My two new company commanders were Chief Cunningham and Petty Officer 1st Chaney. Unlike the previous drill sergeants, Cunningham and Chaney never caught me any slack. So my new shipmates and I had to do tons of push-ups due to my screw-ups. Again I was either well -liked or well-hated by other shipmates. In spite of my personal strongholds, I made it through boot camp, graduating with the 1082 class.
If not for God, I would have never made it through boot camp. Here are some other boot camp adventures.

 

Marching to Physical Training

One day our division was headed to march to do some physical training, when our company commander said, “Guys, let’s march! Let’s show them how it’s done in the Navy!”

In the middle of the pack I was – unconfident and fearful of making a mistake – trying desperately to be perfect in another military task that I struggled to do right. Each step I took felt like a pressure-packed situation, as I constantly had to “hop” to other foot, to correct my mistake of being on the wrong cadence. Like with my stepdad, I feared the ire of an angry man who might punish me for screwing up.

As we marched on the sidewalk, I blundered again. Taking a step, I tripped in a small section of dirt, causing shipmates (who were directly behind me) to stumble over the person in front of them, in a domino effect. The net result was, that the crew in front of me kept on marching forward without interruption, while there was a group of about ten marchers on the ground, all because I tripped, causing guys behind me to also stumble. Again, we got chewed out by our drill sergeant, and everyone had to do push-ups because of me.

Elbow Grease

One day I was use a brush to scrub paint off the barracks’ floor, when I asked my company commander, “What can I use to get this paint off easier?” He simply replied, “Use elbow grease.” I responded, not knowing what elbow grease, “Where do I get some at?”

The next thing I know, I was being sent on a series of “wild good chases” to find “elbow grease”, as my company commander sent me on a journey on foot, with my sea bag over my shoulders, to get some “elbow grease” from an officer, who was about two or three miles from our barracks. Unfortunately, the shipmate I went to, told me “I don’t have any. You need to go to this location (which was also about two or three miles further away) to get it from this person (I forgot the individual’s name)”. This happened to me again by another company commander.

Button missing, zipper down

One day, during a uniform inspection, a female officer chewed out the person right next to me. As I waited nervously for my turn to get my clothes inspected, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling, after she made a funny, sarcastic remark to my shipmate. Seeing my smile, she angrily came to me, to give me a hard time.

“What’s so funny, shipmate? What kind of person would laugh at your fellow shipmate? Let’s see how you are dressed!” As the female officer perused my shirt and pants, she noticed a button missing from my shirt, and “my fly down”. The next thing I know, everyone had to do push-ups because of me again.

 

Chemical Gas Training

To get us prepared in case a war happens, our company commander trained us, in how to put on and off our gas masks. Unfortunately, after putting on the mask, I was breathing some of the chemical gas, which was real painful. Either the mask leaked, or I didn’t put it on properly.

Being forced to “stand at attention”, we were disallowed to say anything or even move, until it was our turn to take off our mask and say our billet number (like a person’s serial number). Unfortunately, I breathed some of the chemicals as I was about two rows behind the next person taking off the mask. Praying to God to overcome the pain of the gas, it eventually became my turn to take my mask off. After my mask was off, I felt the worst physical pain I ever experienced, as my eyes felt like they were on fire.

Firing a gun

Soon came the day where our company division was supposed to shoot a gun with real bullets at firing range. After being instructed how to shoot, I and others began shooting, each of us in our own firing lane. Confused of the instructions, I became unsure how to shoot as I never shot a gun before. So I tried to mimic how Sgt. Rick Hunter shot a gun in the 1980s TV crime drama series Hunter.

With my arms stretched out and rapidly moving up and down, I fired the gun erratically. Suddenly the gun instructor yelled, “Stop! Everyone stop shooting!”
So the instructor made me sit in a chair while everyone else practiced shooting. After they finished and left, the shoot instructor approached me and said, “These guys probably think I am nuts to come even remotely close to you, while you have a gun in your hand. But I am having faith in you! Now this is how you shoot a gun again.” After spending a long time teaching me, I hit any part of the target 14 out of 30 times.

 

Graduation from boot camp

Prior to our graduation ceremony, shipmates from our division told Cunningham and Chaney they didn’t want me march in pass and review (Navy term for graduation), in fear my marching screw-ups would embarrass them in front of their families and friends. So they asked the two if I could guard the barracks while they marched, even though no traffic would be near the barracks during graduation ceremony. Feeling rejected, I pleaded to my company commanders: “You got to believe me! I can march! My family is coming from Michigan to see me. Please give me a try. I know I can do it. I won’t let you guys down!” After they agreed to let me march, I fervently prayed to God several times for help. I then marched flawlessly in front of every during pass and review! Thank you God!

 

 

jesus4

My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 3

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 IN SEARCH OF A BETTER TOMORROW

Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 3

Depressed

Depressed

 “The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”

Mignon McLaughlin

 

I tragically remember the day of March 15, 1990, the day I got expelled from tenth grade, for doing something I didn’t mean to do.

For too long, I tried to get class attention by saying impulsive things. I had done this habitually throughout my years in school. But on that day, I went way too far.

My tenth grade English high school teacher was Kelly Cook. Before March 15, I would constantly get kicked out of class for misbehaving. And many times principal Gordon Pace would give me a “disciplinary speech” in hopes it would change my behaviors. One day, tired of its futility, Pace contacted my stepdad, and the three of us had a talk.

My stepfather told Pace that “if I got in trouble again, call him, and he would take care of matters at home”. This created much fear in me as I feared getting abused again. Unfortunately, my bipolar impulsiveness would have the best of me again.

On March 15, the teacher asked the class “what is your most prized possession?” When it was my turn to answer, I pointed to my penis, and told everyone, “This is my most prized possession.” The classroom subsequently roared with laughter.

Once I heard Kelly tell me, “Let’s go to the principal’s office!, I suddenly panicked, in fear of getting abused at home. “Please no, I am sorry. Please don’t send me the principal’s office”, I begged to Cook. Unfortunately, she had her mind made up.

My thoughts suddenly started to race as I took one step after another toward the principal’s office. Cook being, several steps ahead of me, didn’t know what would happen to me if she told. So I paced faster and faster until I caught up with her. “What do I do? Oh God, he is going to hurt me”, my frantic mind thought.

The next thing I knew, I put my arms over her shoulders, and turned her body around so I could talk to her. Meaning no harm, my mind desperately wanted to tell her: “Please no. Please don’t take me to the principal’s office. I am going to get abused at home if you do.” But unfortunately, my mind traveled so fast I couldn’t say a word.

Meanwhile, Pace, who was walking in the hallways, suddenly saw my arms around the teacher. The principal, fearing I was going to hurt her, immediately took control of the situation, and separated me from the teacher. The next thing I know was being expelled from school for “trying to choke a teacher”, which I had no intention to do.

I felt so scared when my stepdad took me home that day. I remember it rained extremely hard that day. After getting hit a few times, he made me eat a major portion of a Dial soap bar, outside his garage. I remember feeling ashamed as he chewed me out.

On that early afternoon, I was forced to go to bed (for the night) without any food or drink. The lye of the soap made my gums and lips of my mouth swell and bleed. That night, I felt so alone, scared, and ashamed. It was one of the longest nights of my life as I heard my mom and stepdad arguing. At night, when they with them asleep, I snuck in the bathroom, getting a quick drink of water, as the soap tasted awful.

I spent enormous time in bed crying, asking God, “Why, God? Why?” I also started worrying of my reputation at school, what everyone thought of me because of the incident. I wanted badly to escape, somehow escape from this trial.

The school didn’t want me back in school until I got psychological clearance to return. They viewed me as “a dangerous person who could cause harm to anyone at any moment”. So I talked to someone in the psychology field, telling them all about the abuse, including the soap eating. My stepdad later told social services, “I didn’t know the soap had lye in it.”

After the psyche evaluation stated “I was stable enough to return to school”, the school still refused to let me back in, “until I went to a psychiatric hospital”. Until the Tecumseh hospital found out my grandfather had “100 percent mental health coverage of me”, they didn’t think I deemed to be hospitalized. The fact that I mentioned the word “suicide” in a conversation also had an effect in me going there.

It was a very scary situation in the psychiatric hospital. Not knowing when I could go home, being around “unstable people”, being asked a bunch of questions by strangers I didn’t trust, being disallowed to go outside the building, and other restrictions, created much anxiety as I wasn’t used to the culture shock of the situation and the hospital. What made things seem real scary was when my roommate who was in a different bed than mine, but in same room, talked to me one night there.

That night, Andy, a red-headed kid, told me the story of how “he was sexually abused by his uncle.” When he said, though, that “he started to like having sex with his uncle back then, and now he likes have sexually with those of the same gender”, I started to get real nervous as I again, was sleeping in the same room as him. Immediately, after telling me this, I got out of my bed, in which I was only in my underwear, and nervously started pacing the floor, as I said to him, “Let me get this straight! You are telling me you love to have sex with guys? If you try any moves on you, you will be real sorry!”

Even though Andy never tried anything sexually to me, he one day did ask me, “If I mind staying in the bathroom for a while so he could masturbate in his bed.” After resoundingly telling him “No!”, he then asked me, “If I mind watching him do it?” After hearing him say that, I decided it about time for me to do some laundry in the laundry room for a while.

I was in the hospital for an entire month. Even though I immensely hated the place, I was safe from my stepdad. While hospitalized, I often wondered how my stepdad, and teachers and students would treat me when I go back to school. There were a lot of questions without answers in my mind, which made me anxiously obsess and worry.

After grandpa’s insurance company told the hospital they would no longer pay for my visit, I immediately got released. But before my termination happened, the hospital gave me a brain scan. According to a doctor there, I had a “chemical imbalance in my brain”. At the time, my family and I naturally believed they were “concocting a reason for me to continue staying there”. However, ever since my mental illness got diagnosed, I wonder if they actually found something, as both bipolar disorder and OCD involve neurotransmitter imbalances.

I never did return to school my sophomore year. It almost seems absurd, though, they allowed “a frail, 100-plus pound, female substitute teacher” to stay alone in my house to homeschool a “mentally unstable teenager”, but wouldn’t permit me to be in school with “supervising adults” around.

After the hospital visit, my stepdad seemed to work real hard to be good to me. I believed this happened due to three reasons. One, his past abusive behaviors became known to people, which caused increased scrutiny of his future actions by social services, the school, etc. Secondly, I believe my stepdad felt real sorry for his actions, which I will discuss later. Thirdly, the process of “fighting the school system”, in hopes of me returning to school, galvanized the relationship of our family (stepdad, mom, self).

A few years ago, it was discovered that my stepdad, like me, has a chemical imbalance in the brain. Unfortunately, our unique behaviorisms that result from our neurotransmitter problem are often like oil and water – they don’t mix well when present.

In the past, when pressure kicked his chemical issue in gear, my stepdad would get real angry easily, which would make me real anxious when around me. My OCD would then kick in gear, making me overly fearful of making mistakes, often sabotaging my ability to perform well. My screw-ups would then intensify the problem, increasing his anger and starting the cycle over again.

For example, I remember him trying to teach me how to drive when I was seventeen, when he got irritated from my inability to learn from his instructions. Fear of getting hurt by him made me nervous; thus, I repeatedly made mistakes. The next thing I know, he grabbed my throat and punched me in the face, breaking my glasses. Even though I today forgive him, and try to view him positively as he wants to do the right thing, it’s often hard to feel close to him in a son-father relationship.

Every day I experience fears of “doing something so bad in front of someone” which would cause people to “hate and reject” me, similar to how my stepdads (and dad) before did to me. In my daily encounters of people, I subconsciously view myself being that “little child being alone with my abusive father” – “if I don’t do this right, I get hurt by him”. So my OCD thinks of “worst case scenarios” and “horrible things to say or do”. Even though, life has become a daily battle of facing the anxiety involved with OCD and my past abuse, I am glad to say that I am winning the war, as my faith in God is dwarfing the size of the life giant that I perceive my illness to be.

Until the last few years, I believed in the lies “I am no good” and “I am not strong enough to overcome.” If I only embraced the truth of God’s grace and His power to overcome, sooner, I would have escaped much of the pains and sufferings of my earlier years. This includes many experiences, also including my encounters with my Dad, the Navy, college, jobs, etc.

 

Application

Days and nights I felt depressed, defeated, and insignificant, as I pondered the fact I was expelled from school and stuck into a mental hospital. Life situations, though, was not what tyrannized me. Instead, it was how I labeled the events I experienced.

Anthony Robbins once said, “It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.” Three people can experience the same exact happenings, but have three totally different effects on them. Individuals who perceive themselves being in control of life problems, remain strong and stable; while those who label the “situation at hand negatively”, often make true their self-fulfilling prophecy.

During my childhood and early adulthood, I habitually viewed myself as being weak, unloved, and insignificant; thus, I was what I believed. Before I learned to embrace the fact that “I am a special creation of God” and that “I, through the power of Christ, am stronger than my fears and abusive stepfather”, I was never free emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. It was as if my negative thinking placed myself into a self-imposed prison. If I only habitually back then learnt to trust in God’s promises and think positively, the chains of life would have been released and I would be set free. As William Carey once said, “The future is as bright as God’s promises.”

“Let God’s promises shine on your problems” (Corrie Ten Boom). “The Bible has over 14,000 of them; perfect God has broken not one of them.”

 


 

“Please listen and answer me,  for I am overwhelmed by my troubles”.    Psalms 55:2

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Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 2

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Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 2

Alone and Depressed

Alone and Depressed

 

“Life is to be entered upon with courage”.

Alexis de Tocqueville

During my childhood, I moved back and forth from my mother’s (and stepdad’s) house to my grandparents a lot. Here’s my account of me living with my grandparents, from age fourteen to sixteen:
AGE 14 – AT GRANDPARENTS

When I was about fourteen, I dreamed of being a NBA star someday – the next Larry Bird. So I decided to play junior high basketball, starting in seventh grade.

Back then, I was uncoordinated, my mind traveled too fast, and my fears of rejection and failure placed enormous pressure upon my performance. I hated being a benchwarmer. I came in the game when our team was either down or ahead by twenty-some points with about three minutes to go.

I tried to be perfect in everything I did, as my delicate mind started to believe “everyone would reject me if I made a mistake”. I subconsciously thought that “everyone was like my abusive stepfather”; so I acted defensively and timid toward many people.

I gave 150 percent effort every time I did something; unfortunately, the combination of my mania and OCD often deterred my performance. As I experienced the lows and highs of manic depression, I many times did something “bad” or “stupid”, which would reinforce and worsen my future obsessions, of “don’t make a mistake.”

My bipolar actions often made me a comic to people. For example, when a basketball would go out of bounds, and out of the gym and into the bathroom, I would sprint out of gymnasium, and into the bathroom, and then sprint back into the gymnasium until I hand the ball into the referee’s hands.

Another time, trying to save the ball from going out of bounds, I hustled so hard that I ran into the wall. As this happened, the crowd moaned and gasped, until I started laughing, over embarrassment of running into the wall. After seeing me laugh, the whole crowd responded in laughter. I had that way with people.

A year later, in eighth grade, after a basketball game was over, our team entered the visiting locker room to get ready to take a shower. However, I was still in the gym looking for some scissors to cut the tape off my ankle. About fifteen minutes went by, and I headed into the locker room to undress and take a shower.

By time I was naked; everyone completed their showers and was putting their clothes on. It is important to note that in this school’s locker rooms, there were, other than the main entrance door, two doors, one leading to the showers, and the other one, leading to a hallway where fans were using to exit the building. Unfortunately, I went through the wrong door, and many people saw me naked in the hallway.

Being caught by surprise, I didn’t put a towel over my waist. Instead, I was talking to people, and was asked by some, for my autograph.

A year later, being on the junior varsity team, after the season was over, Coach Fred had a party for our team. Having heard of the rumor about Fred’s affair with the school secretary, and of their intercourse in the school’s boiler room, I asked Fred and Joyce (the secretary) in front of the entire team if that hearsay was true. Both Fred and Joyce were embarrassed.

Being unable to live up to my rigid expectations of being a basketball star, I daily felt like a total failure. I thought if I could be like Larry bird, everyone would love and accept me, and believe I was competent. So I worked an entire summer to save enough money to go to McCracken’s Basketball Camp. Unfortunately, during my first day at camp, I twisted my ankle, and struggled to make use of my investment of going there. Many people made fun of my sometimes peculiar behaviorisms there, but in the end, my strong work ethic, awarded me both the Hustle and Pride Awards, given at the camp.

So during my sophomore year, I was unwisely cocky, telling everyone “I was going to be a basketball star.” Unfortunately, because of my unknown disability and lack of talent, I didn’t even make the team. Hoping someone would quit the team, and then by default make it on the team roster, I became the water boy. Unfortunately, no one quit the team, and the highs and lows of severe depression make it real hard to endure each day of defeat.

Marcia Nye – the Homecoming Queen

Still in tenth grade, my unknown disability continued to make life seem unbearable to me. Still living with my grandparents, I was a lonely teenager who desperately needed love from a woman. Upstairs alone in my room, wanting the best, I called on the phone, Marcia Nye, the school’s homecoming queen, on a date. I was devastated when she laughed and said “no”.
Severely depressed and crying heavily, I had an emotional meltdown. With racing thoughts, I punched a hole in the ceiling of my room. I then grabbed the back of clothes dresser, and slammed the dresser to the floor. My grandfather, hearing the commotion, came upstairs in my room, and used a hanger to sting me, in hopes it would quiet my tantrum. Unfortunately, I accidently pushed my grandfather to the floor.

My grandma, hearing the commotion, went to the telephone to call my stepdad, to come over and restore order. In fear of getting abused, I impulsively ripped the phone off the wall. My suddenly angry grandmother then came at me with a stick; but, unfortunately, she accidentally tripped over my foot and fell face first, giving her a bloody nose. She then called my stepdad, and thus, I returned to living with him again. The combination of hurting my grandparents, and the fear of getting abused by my stepdad again, make the night seem almost unbearable.

 

Application

During most of my life, I based my self-worth on other’s opinions and my achievements. Each time I screwed up, I felt shame. The more shame I felt, the greater the intensity of wanting to prove to both others and myself I was good through performance. Unfortunately, my illness and past hurts of abuse repeatedly sabotaged my chances of success.

If you read The Search of Significance, you will see our self-worth is to be based upon our identity in Christ. On the cross, Christ died when we were yet sinners – it has nothing to do with all of us, but everything with Christ, and God’s extreme desire to love us unconditionally.

In God’s eyes, if we base our self-worth on performance, we will not be good enough, as our deeds are just “filthy rags” in God’s eyes.
Our past doesn’t have to dictate our present behaviors and perceptions of ourselves. We don’t have to feel loved or approved by man – who are sinners like us – to feel significant by God. If we based it on performance and other’s opinions, our emotions will always wildly fluctuate up and down, based upon our actions – if we do good or do bad. If we don’t change our faulty beliefs systems, and instead realize we are special because we are a child of God, we will be tyrannized until we do. So don’t correlate “competence” with “performance”, to consider yourself as worthwhile.

In Ephesians 1:14, it talks about how God gave us worth, while we were yet sinners, as Jesus purchased us to be His own people, because of the cross. Just think, God – the greatest of all – the maker of the heavens and earth, so desperately wants an intimate love relationship with both you and me.

So when people put you down, realize the truth of God’s grace and your identity in Christ. Don’t demean yourself, by comparing self to others by performance. How God views His children is always greater than what any mistake-prone human who views us. See Romans 5:8, Ephesians 1:21.

Because of the cross, we can have eternal life. We can someday spend eternity in heaven with God. Christ paid the penalty of our sins. To those who are unsaved, God views as guilty and unworthy of His love. (Please log on to inpursuitoffreedomministries.com/Salvation.htm to learn more about how to get saved.)

We are saved by grace and not works. Even though we repeatedly fail in being the person God wants us to become, our identity and self-worth is still based upon God’s grace, proven on the cross. Even though God does child disciplining to train us a child, it doesn’t mean God loves us any less.

As you will see, I spent an enormous part of my life, struggling to believe these truths, and tyrannizing myself into being in shame. However, since I embraced and believed into these truths, I found freedom and contentment in Christ. To say though, I never will again felt the shame and base my self-worth others is not true as I have an imperfect nature. But as I grow in intimacy in Christ, I am realizing the truth more and more.

Verses:

Ephesians 1:3-8: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loves us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.

Ephesian 2:8-9; “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

John 1:12: “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 1

 

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Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 1

Abused as a child

Abused as a child

 

“When fear is excessive it can make many a man despair”.

Thomas Aquinas

My life story begins after my soon to be grandparents find a seventeen year old boy homeless. Feeling sorry for him, they give him a place to live – in their home with their sixteen year old daughter, Samantha. Thus, less than a year later, my future father gets Samantha pregnant out of wedlock. That is how I was born.

Dad, mom, and I move in a home away from my grandparents. Living with my very violent, unstable father who did and sold cocaine, mom and I were often very afraid of Dad. Mom told me that Dad once “tried to kill my sticking a gun to her head”. (She also told me he spent a year in jail for selling cocaine to an undercover FBI agent.). Subsequently, to protect her and myself from Dad, we headed south across many states to hide from him.

When I was two, Mom and Dad got divorced. My mom’s parents got custody of me. Living with two truly loving, caring, sacrificial, Christian grandparents, my hyperactivity created much anxiety upon them; still they did their ultimate best to raise me. They also struggled to teach me new things as I was hard learner back then.

During the majority of my life, I had always been very scared of men. As a toddler, still being raised by my grandparents, I would habitually panic, scream, and heavily cry when seeing a man in church. Childhood trauma also made it difficult for me to talk; so before I was six years of age, I seen a therapist. I haven’t stopped talking since, as I am today, a constant talker.

Before I was eight years old, mom remarried, this time to John. After the marriage, I moved back to live with the two. John was very abusive to me. After he locked me into a closet until Mom heard me crying and let me out, mom decided to divorce him. So I moved back to my grandparents until Mom remarried again, this time to Randy, who she still is married to. Unfortunately, Randy was also very abusive to me.

I remember those childhood days with the man, trying to make it through each day unscathed, desperately praying and counting the minutes of each day, hoping that calendar date would end soon. Praying God for strength; immensely trying to please my stepdad; hoping Randy would be nice to me.

One night, naked I was, he made me put ice on my testicles. Randy wickedly told me that “if I moved, he would hit me.”  Feeling intense anger, sadness, and shame: “why would a man do something so hurtful to such a kid?” In that living room, on my back, naked, and helpless, I did what I was instructed to do. That experience seemed so long, so unending and frightening, as I felt so weak and dirty, so low and unworthy.

“Please God! Help me! Why God, why God, have you forsaken me? What did I do so wrong to deserve so much pain and suffering?” I didn’t realize it back then, but God didn’t leave me. He was with me, giving me power and courage to overcome, strength in weakness. Today after reflecting upon the experience, I see now He had a far greater purpose: one of love, hope, and faith. But before it would fall in place, I had to suffer more.

Being abused daily, I counted the minutes, counting the days, counting the months, to play his wicked games another day. Mom didn’t know of the abuse at the time; no one knew except Randy and I. It was David versus Goliath, except this David was weak and defeated. I thought: “I just need to make it to the night, make it to the time he goes to bed, so I could cry and weep in mourning away from his sight, as well as to regain my vulnerable strength.” I prayed and prayed: “God, do you love me? I am so weak and frail, and so scared! I need you God! God, please don’t let me down!”

I tried to be perfect, so perfect, hoping it would appease Randy’s anger and cruelty. I remember him opening a pepper lid and dumping half of it in my cereal, and forcing me to eat it. I also hated the cruel words; the belittling; his power games. I had to be perfect, so perfect, in fear of him hitting me.

As a child, my OCD illness started to kick in gear, as I began to obsess about everything I did, trying to be perfect in all I did, hoping to avoid punishment and win his acceptance. Unfortunately, this often seemed to be a losing battle for me. I began to obsess in the manner I went to bathroom, as I started worrying I would pee on the floor, in fear of being harshly reprimanded. Staring at the TV, while in the living room with him, I often felt the anxiety of him watching me, so I obsessed about what body motions and gestures I would make. “What was he thinking about, what did he have in future mind to do or say to me next?” At the kitchen table, with mom present, he would complain about the manner I would put food in my mouth, and how visible the smear I made on the drinking glass after taking a drink. I would often try to eat real slowly, as I feared getting out of my chair to put more food on my plate, as I would often get angry at me for taking too much food. I also obsessed about the manner I walked, as I heard the floor creak after taking a step. In seemingly everything I did, I obsessed, hoping it would protect me; unfortunately, in reality, all it did was imprison me, in the present and future.

When I helped my stepdad do work, which was almost daily, I habitually became so fearful of making a mistake that my anxiety would cause my mind to race, sabotaging my ability to process his instructions and complete the tasks he gave me. My mind learnt to constantly evaluate and reevaluate every decision and action of mine, as I feared the potential consequences. My constant fear of his anger lashing out on me, make me extremely unconfident and distrustful of my abilities. When I was seventeen, after him getting frustrated at my driving mistakes, he uncontrollably grabbed my throat and punched me in the face, breaking my glasses and giving me both a black eye and throat marks.

His cruel words hurt me the most. Daily I listened to the loud message “I was no good, incompetent, unloved, weak, and worthless”; soon that taped message in my head became a depressing song that wouldn’t leave my mind. Trying feverishly to prove him wrong, and to avoid further abuse, my “screw-ups” only became further evidence of validity of his rejecting words and actions. The more mistakes I made, the increasingly I believed in the lies, and the more I hated myself. These feelings and thoughts became a vicious cycle that wouldn’t go away until my late thirties of age.

2 Corinthians 4:8
“We are press on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”

“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” William James quote

Application:

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized, and cruelty mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered. “ (Michael J. Fox). In life, there will always be people who will hurt you. During these times, realize how much God loves you, and recall trials that God previously delivered you from.

In spite of the fact Paul was “beaten, put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food”, he stated: “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. A life of being abused by men and great suffering, Paul still said the following in Romans 8:18: “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He (God) will reveal to us later.”

David faced many men trying to kill him; regardless, David said in Psalms 9:9: “The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” In your times of adversity, let God be your shelter.

Also, in Psalms 34:27-20, David writes: “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not of them is broken!”

In spite of all my past trials with abuse, God laid his protection on me; “not one of my bones was broken”. As you will later see, God had a divine purpose for all my sufferings. I strongly believe he also has one in spite of your troubles. See Romans 8:28.

Just because we don’t yet understand the reasons for our suffering, we should not question the Father’s love, proven by His Son’s death on the cross, for believers. Paul writes in Romans 8:38:41:

““And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it–then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

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Courage Like David

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Prologue #1: Climbing Life Mountains

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Climbing Life Mountains

 Climbing Life Mountains

Life mountains: we all face them. To successfully journey through them,  and to experience freedom and victory (which lies beyond the highest peak of the highest mountain), we must make sound decisions. Perseverance – the ability to keep on trying, no matter the obstacles and potential setbacks, is also required.

Making sound decisions demands a proper understanding of the situation as well as self and God.  The better we evaluate the three, the easier the journey. Unfortunately, believing in lies like “you are no good”, “you will never amount to anything”, “you are too weak to overcome this trial”, “God has deserted me in my troubles”, and “no one, including Him, will ever love me in light of my imperfections”, presumably produce strongholds in us. As we listen to Satanic falsehoods, we often overestimate the negativity of the trial, while underestimating what we can do through Christ. This only tightens the stranglehold that controls us.

We cannot let our fears, doubts, failures, past hurts, and wavering self-concepts prevent us from becoming the person and doing the work God intended for us. God promised in Psalms 32:8, “to guide us Christians along the best pathway for your life as He advises and watches over us.” The Lord also said,” He will never leave nor forsake His children;”all things work together for the good of those who love God and are fitting in His plans”; not to mention “nothing can ever separate us Christians from His Love.”  Making sound decisions starts with believing in Biblical truths like these.

A familiar proverb goes like this: “Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered. There was no one there.” This means when our faith is sufficient in strength, our fears dissipate. Fear is what makes “ordinary trials” seem like “imaginary giants”. It also make us believe “our ship is sinking when isn’t”, and that our “life mountains cannot be climbed.”

So when your fears become stronger than your faith, embrace other biblical truths like the following:

  • “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me”. (Philippians 4:13).
  • “Yet what we suffer no is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” (Romans 8:18).
  • Jesus said to his disciples, in Mark 11:22-24: “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘may you be lifted up and thrown into the sea’, and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything. and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” However, it doesn’t have to beat me or you. I hope my recovery story and this web site both inspires and guides you toward greater freedoms.

Listening and believing in God’s truth is the secret toward further growth and freedom found only in Christ. Not only does it guide us what we should and shouldn’t do, but also who we are and what we can do through Him. It also enables us to experiences victories over life storms and mountains, which builds both our faith and perseverance. Life mountains get climbed and personal strongholds get broken, when we gain an heartfelt understanding that “God plus me are always greater than the ‘giants’ I face”.

 

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My Recovery Story

 

Prologue 1:  Climbing Life Mountains

Prologue 2: The Devil Says: “Jesus Doesn’t Care”

Prologue 3: “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Chapter 1:  “When fear is excessive, it can make a man despair”. 

Chapter 2: “Life is to be entered upon with courage.”

Chapter 3: “The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”

Chapter 4:  “Courage is the fear that said its prayers.”

Chapter 5:  “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear”.

Chapter 6:  “The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”

Chapter 7:  “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”

Chapter 8:  “Often the test of courage is not to die but to live”.

Chapter 9:  “We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.”

Chapter 10:  “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Chapter 11:  “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.

 

Chapter 12:  “In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest”.

Chapter 13:  “Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.”

Chapter 14: “Goodwill & Allied Chucker”

Chapter 15:  “Camping Trip”

Chapter 16:  “Celibacy Struggles”

Chapter 17:  “Hospital Visits”

Chapter 18: “Visits With Dad”

Chapter 19: “Courage is to confront what can be imagined.”

Chapter 20: “My Projects”

Chapter 21: “Life in Recovery”

Chapter 22: “More Stories Of Mine”

Chapter 23: “Spiritual Warfare”

Chapter 24: “We Can All Be Heroes”

Chapter 25: “Closing Thoughts”

 

 

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BIPOLAR PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALIZATION EXPERIENCES

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IN SEARCH OF A BETTER TOMORROW

Mental Illness Recovery Story,  Chapter 17

Bipolar Psychiatric Hospitalization Experiences

Since my manic depression got diagnosed in 1998, I have been hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital a total of approximately six times. I had also been in the emergency room several times having minor issues with my manic depression or OCD.

In Hillsdale, I remember going in the emergency room for a few hours due to an anxiety attack and some mania. While in a room waiting for the doctor to come in, I saw two cops, each having gun on their side belt; this intensified my anxiety problems. The next thing I know, both cops were holding me down as a nurse injected a needle in my hip, which sedated me. A few hours later, under control, the hospital called my cousin, who picked me up and took me to his house, where I slept. He then drove me back to the hospital so I could get my car and go home.

During an extended hospital visit, an old lady who was schizophrenic was wearing just a nightgown. She went in my room while I was trying to sleep and gave a chant (of what I don’t know) as she pranced back and forth around me and my bed. Hospital staff soon got her out of my room and I went to sleep.

When I was in a crisis home (due to bipolar mania), I was very upset that I had to miss the endings of the 2004 ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox – the year that Red Sox made history as they became the only baseball team to come back from an 0-3 deficit – all because of a 10 pm bed curfew. What made things worse, is that I am huge Red Sox fan.

In Feb of 2013, I got hospitalized for a week due to my OCD / scrupulosity getting out of control. What triggered this was the enormous fear bad things were going to happen to me because I had been masturbating. At the time, being a member of a Southern Baptist Church, which emphasized “fire and brimstone” judgments to sin, I had religious OCD fears of “God going to kill me for masturbating”.(Scrupulosity involves having obsessions of “experiencing God’s wrath and judgment for sins that are either minor or not a sin at all”..)

The scene that got me hospitalized for this problems, was when I saw two cops in cop cars, next to each other, talking. Being so cared “God was going to kill me”, I panicked as I repeatedly honking my horn at them as I drove to the vehicles. I screamed out “I have been masturbating and God is going to kill me. Please help me!” The two police officers, in fear of me hurting myself, immediately got an ambulance to escort me to the psychiatric area of Allegiance Healthy hospital. Admitted against my will, I stayed there for an entire week. The doctor changed my medicine and I have felt great since.

While being in a psychiatric hospital, I always hated the freedom restrictions and enormous time spent doing nothing but thinking and hoping to get better, so you can get out of there. Not being allowed to leave the floor or go outside. However, as I spent time around others who also have problems, I began to appreciate my situation better, and become very empathetic to others’ needs. I think God gave me my illness to make me feel the pain of myself and others, so I can overcome and become an inspiration to my world.

Habitually, I try to encourage and inspire people I am around. Many times I pray for words to say, and discernment to whom I should talk to. Just a simple: “How are you doing?” or “Is everything going good for you?”, can brighten a person’s day. If you care and exhort those who are hurting, I believe it can a have great impact in their lives.

Similar to Patch Adams, I also like to use humor to lift the spirits of the emotionally saddened. I also hope to be a living example of a joyful, overcomer of a mental illness, which has happened, thanks to God.

My Mental Illness Recovery Story: In Recovery Today

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IN SEARCH OF A BETTER TOMORROW

My Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 20

In Recovery Today

During my entire life, I have been a dreamer. Dreams of freedom: trying to overcome my former strongholds of abuse, OCD, and manic depression. Throughout the majority of my life, I desperately wanted to be love, competent, safe, accepted, successful, and unafraid. I am glad to say today, generally speaking, these dreams have come true.

Rick Warren once said, “Fear is a self-imposed prison that keeps you from becoming the person God wants you to be “. Even though OCD makes me fearful a lot, my mental illness normally doesn’t control me. It is no longer a daily “self-imposed prison” that tyrannizes me, preventing me from being and doing what God desires of me. Yes, in the game of life, I will lose many, many battles; but with God on my side, I know that I will win the war. And I also know where I’m headed after this life is over: heaven.

When I abide in Christ, I experience overabundant joy, peace, and happiness from the Holy Spirit. “If I patiently endure testing and temptation, I will someday in heaven receive the crown of life, promised by God to those who love Him” (see James 1:12). I know there will be times of great struggles and heartaches, but because of my relationship with Christ, I have both an eternal and a living hope that will never let me down! Jesus told his disciples, in John 16:33, ““I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Read Psalms 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house forever.”
(Those who accept Christ as their Savior experience all this, plus freedom from hell. Log onto www.inpursuitoffreedomministries.com/Salvation.htm for further information.)

Because of Christ, I have countless reasons for hope and inspiration when life gets rough. Even though there will be times when things seem hopeless, I can find strength from God’s promises as well as other encouraging Christians. That is the theme of  my personal web site, In Pursuit of Freedom Ministries: to inspire and guide other people, who face similar life struggles, toward the path of freedom (which comes from following and trusting in the Trinity).

Inpursuitoffreedomministries.com is my personal web page that I personally created from 2007 to 2008. On this site, is personally-written Christian articles, my testimony, inspirational quotes and bible verses, and links to helpful sites for others who have faced similar trials (including OCD, bipolar, and abuse) that I have. Remembering all my past hurts, as well as witnessing the life struggles of other, including those I met in psychiatric hospitals (to treat my bipolar disorder), I decided to create the web site to inspire and encourage others not to give the hope of freedom. I want my past life struggles to become a benefit for a greater purpose – to help others, to “pay it forward” to what people like Dobbert once did for me.

In addition, to managing my web site, I have also written several articles on places like Faithwriters.com. After this chapter, I have included a few of my publications, to help and encourage you in your journey toward freedom. I hope they become an inspiration to you. I also write threads on Christianforums.com, for the same purposes. I often read the recovery-section threads, and try to respond to those who are seeking comfort. I also like to publish daily devotionals on the site. Or I just write a thread that will hopefully be something that people would want to read.

Also, in my spare time, I am on the leadership team of the Metro Jackson program, a Christian singles outreach ministry in Jackson, Michigan. One of my functions there is to coordinate activities between our organization and also the Jackson Interfaith Shelter, which is a place where homeless people stay. On a monthly basis, Metro Jackson members visit the Jackson Interfaith Shelter to instill Christ’s love to these homeless individuals. Metro Jackson hopes to reach more and more of the Jackson community, to help those in need and to help them realize their need for Christ.

I used to act in funny videos for kids in our church to watch. My character was Dr. Lee Scoots. I tried to use humor and comedy to brighten their days as Scoots was a bumbling fool who did hilarious things.
Finally, in addition, to once creating a Christian you tube video out of Windows Live Movie Maker, I also produced PowerPoint /Windows Live Movie Maker videos for our church’s youth leader’s class, as I did research on an assigned subject, and then prepared a video to be an aide in his teachings to his students. For example, I once gathered information on the subject of sexual purity, and then created a PowerPoint video, in which our youth pastor used to help teach his class.

My life in retrospect

Looking at my life in hindsight, I see now that God had everything planned perfectly for a greater purpose, something that I didn’t understand then, but do now. God also has a perfect plan for you, you just need the courage and faith to believe in Him, and in it.
God gave me an illness to show the world His greatness. Just like how an ordinary shepherd boy David shocked Israel by defeating His giant, Goliath, God wants to use disabled people like you and me to show God’s greatness to a world that desperately needs Him. As God said in 2 Corinthians 12:9a: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.

In a weird but true sense, God is actually both complimenting and blessing us by giving us a disability or great trial. You see, God never gives us trials that we cannot overcome through Him (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). So by giving us a disability or huge trial in our life, He is in a way demonstrating trust in our capacity to be strong enough to continue the fight, as we rely upon the deliverance of the Deliverer.  “With man this is impossible,; but with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

 

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Spiritual Warfare Article

Spiritual Warfare Article

Thoughts create emotions which influence our perceptions of future thoughts. These perceptions, thoughts, and emotions influence our decisions, actions, and behaviors – which often either imprison or set us free. Thoughts don’t destroy us – it’s how we label and acts upon what we think. Thus, to be free, we must know the difference between truth and falsehoods.

For example, one summer night, driving home from a Rhett Walker Band concert, at Spring Arbor University, my mind was being bombard by “intrusive thoughts” telling me “I am no good and unloved”, triggered by my associating college students at SAU with my past experiences of being rejected at Tris-State University. As the spiritual battle between believing I was good based upon the opionons of past people to I am special creation of God, anxiety incited. Past hurts got recalled, and the emotional responses and perceptions incited. As you play the game, the devil (just like Jesus being tempted in wilderness) waited for my weakness, frailities, and vulnerabilities to get attacked, and all of a sudden, when nearing a time where it is critical for you to drive under control and car, you experience intrusive thoughts, of killing self through reckless driving.

In life, we all face troubles, fears, unworthiness, frailties, and temptations to give up. We are human and imperfect, which makes us vulnerable and weak. However, there is hope, if we can only know the difference between truth and lies:
Truth # 1: We have an enemy to face.

Especially, in the midst of our troubles, we are constantly in a spiritual battle versus the devil, “a roaring lion” who uses lies and fear in hopes of devouring people (1 Peter 5:8). To destroy us, Satan tries to create strongholds in us by exerting pressure upon our fears, frailties, sufferings, and painful memories. His deceit works to impair our decision making by influencing what perceptions we “label” of situations and of circumstances. He also likes to make potential misfortune seem more threatening and more likely to occur than in reality, hopes to arouse negative emotions to intolerable levels, lie about what threshold of suffering we can endure and that there is no escape route through the struggle, and finally, make us believe God is not in control. “If you feel so overwhelmed, engulfed, and inundated by your problems and difficulties that you want to give up, stop, and think. It may be the Enemy at work.” (Pedro Okoro, see above).

“Spiritual warfare is very real. There is a furious, fierce, and ferocious battle raging in the realm of the spirit between the forces of God and the forces of evil.”
― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ

Truth # 2: Satan knows our weaknesses: fear, low self-esteem, and our tendencies to sin.

In the garden of Eden, man learned to sin, which had separated every man from God, until the cross (for believers). Feelings and fears of inadequacy and shame, false perceptions that our Father in Heaven will not always love and accept us, hatred and selfishness, and life trials and sufferings have since then tyrannized man, as we are controlled by our tendencies to do evil. The devil knows all this. So he implants thoughts that incite fear, self-rejection, and low self-esteems as he tempts us to make bad, often sinful decisions. Please read the follow quotes:

“Many Christians… find themselves defeated by the most psychological weapon that Satan uses against them. This weapon has the effectiveness of a deadly missile. Its name? Low self-esteem. Satan’s greatest psychological weapon is a gut level feeling of inferiority, inadequacy, and low self-worth This feeling shackles many Christians, in spite of wonderful spiritual experiences and knowledge of God’s Word. Although they understand their position as sons and daughters of God, they are tied up in knots, bound by a terrible feeling inferiority, and chained to a deep sense of worthlessness.”
― David A. Seamands, Healing For Damaged Emotions

“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen

Worthlessness, self-rejection, and fear – Satan knows our weaknesses and frailties. When we sin, we feel these experiences as Satan the Accuser and Father of lies, likes to “rub salt into our wounds.” Or, he may use the rejecting and hurtful words / actions of those around us, to do the same. He may put trials in our lives to deceitfully make us “believe God doesn’t love us”, or that “God won’t deliver us through the trial”, which could also lead us to doubt God’s unconditional love of us. The point is, Satan knows we are powerless when we feel discouraged, unconfident, and separated from God. Bob Sorge, author of Glory: When Heaven Invades Earth, reinforces these points: “The nature of the enemy’s warfare in your life is to cause you to become discouraged and to cast away your confidence. Not that you would necessarily discard your salvation, but you could give up your hope of God’s deliverance. The enemy wants to numb you into a coping kind of Christianity that has given up hope of seeing God’s resurrection power.”

Satan will continue to attack our vulnerabilities until we prove to him they are no longer a weakness. Pedro Okoro said, in Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ: “The devil doesn’t really have any new schemes, ideas, or initiatives. He keeps on recycling and reusing the same temptations, adorning them in different attires.” So how we defeat the enemy?

Truth #3: Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Pedro Okoro, same book, says “To effectively combat the devil, you need to pray”. Unfortunately, he also writes, “If you do not pray, you easily become a prey.” Faith in prayer is the secret to unleashing God’s power in our times of need, as we ask the Creator of the heavens and earth in trust to help win the victory over the Enemy. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.” “ John 14:13, John 15:7, and John 16:24 also reinforce that bible truth:

“And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. “ (John 15:7)
“Until now you have asked nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24).
“As a believer, you have the authority to tell the devil what to do in the name of Jesus”
― (Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ). However, when we sin, we lose fellowship to Christ and His power source until we repent. Thus, many times, in life, we are often weak because of our sins. Thus, Satan tries to lead us away from Christ through temptations to sins, and once he does, he tries to make us doubt God’s love and willingness to help us in our times of need. Deceptions, temptations to sin, and accusations are the tricks of the devil.

Faith and prayer frees us, doubt and fear imprisons. As Pedro Okoro says, “Knowledge comes by revelation through the study of the Scriptures.” This means, in order to have faith, which requires believing in the truth of God’s scriptures, we must daily study God’s Word, so we will have the “knowledge” background to know the difference between God’s Word and Satanic lies. (For example, by studying the Bible, you can learn truths like Romans 8:38-41, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”)

When facing life struggles, know the difference between Satan’s lies and Biblical Truths, as well as fact from truth. Pedro Okoro expounds on this statement:

“There is a difference between the fact and the truth. The fact is what you may be experiencing at any particular point in time in your life, the day-to-day reality of life, the struggles, the challenges, the issues and the problems that you face on a daily basis. On the other hand, the truth is what God’s Word says about the particular situation you are going through or the challenges you currently face…God expects you to confess and proclaim the truth of His Word, not the fact of your daily struggles!”
― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ
tags: inspirational-quotes, spiritual-warfare

”Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.” (See Ephesians 6).

“In this battle, there is no room for turning back. You have to be on the offensive. You have to keep attacking the Enemy; and on account of this, your back is left bare. You cannot afford to turn back once you have put your hand to the plow and agreed to follow Jesus! To do otherwise is to leave yourself open to the Enemy’s attack.”
― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world”, Jesus said in John 16:33. People need something and someone to believe in; what they need, is to see Christ in us. God has a giant-sized purpose for both you and me. “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”(Norman Vincent Peale).

Every human is faced with a personal Goliath which only the Trinity can conquer. When life giants, storms, and mountains get into our path, we must realize that, even though seemingly equipped with “five stones and a sling”, we will always have God on our side, who will never leave nor forsake us. If you let Him, He will make you into a spiritual giant that dwarfs your troubles. And the whole world will know that there “is a God in this world.”

“Spiritual giants are only willing, available and thirsty spiritual babies who paid the price for the prize, who waged a war for the victims to become victors, just like the courageous Davids that kill the big Goliaths” ( Ikechukwu Joseph, Strategic Spiritual Warfare). Are you willing to surrender your life to God’s dream for you, not matter the cost, and trust Him daily as He delivers you through one trial after another? Freedom happens when we place our lives into His hands!

“Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won where the way leads to the cross.”
― Megan McKenna, The New Stations of the Cross: The Way of the Cross According to Scripture

“In spiritual warfare, faith is the currency that releases your prayer. It is the instrument (or weapon, if you like) that activates and sets loose the answers to your prayers.”
― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ

“Just as you cannot stop a bird from flying over your head, in the same way you cannot stop the devil from dropping ideas into your mind. However, in the same way that you can stop a bird from building a nest on your head, you can stop the Enemy’s suggestions from wandering without restriction and taking root in your mind.”
― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ

We All Can Be Heroes

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“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles”. ~Christopher Reeve

In this hate-filled, sin-infested, fear-imprisoning world, everyone, at some point in time, needs inspiration to believe in hope. Whether it be a lost sinner, joyless sufferer of adversity, another disabled person, or those seeking recovery, it’s all the same: people need the freedom found in Christ’s love.

Heroes and overcomers: what a beautiful sight to the eyes of the weak and defeated. The story of David in the Bible was about how God used the purpose of an ordinary shepherd boy to help lead an entire nation toward freedom, from the grips of Goliath and the Philistines. David’s unlikely heroics revealed God’s greatness to his world, all because of David’s deep trust in God’s ability and willingness to do the impossible. Thus, the ripple effect of David overcoming Goliath, as well as David’s personal fears and doubts, has since become a catalyst for helping people who heard his story, experience spiritual inspiration and direction toward finding freedom from their personal “Goliaths”, known as adversity.

Just like David, God has given you and me daily personal “giants” to face. If we only have the faith and courage to overcome them, we can become a hero or heroine to our world sphere. Our recovery success stories can inspire those with similar problems; it can also lead them to the source of all freedom: the Trinity.

People watch us many days and many nights. When we overcome our personal giants, people see it. That is why God created us with a disability, etc. Our life becomes a testimony, either good or bad, to our personal world to see. (Whether or not we unconditionally love one another, which also gives hope, is also seen by others.)

God has given every human their personal “thorn in the flesh”. It may be an addiction, a disability, traumatic abuse experiences, etc. Whatever it may be, God wants to use you and your “thorn in the flesh” to prove to the world: “all things are possible if a person believes” in Him. Only when people realize their need for Him, and see His remarkable power and deliverance in the lives of others, and believe in it, will those with troubles seek God.

Robert Michael Hensel was born with spina bifida. According to Wikipedia, he holds the Guiness World Record for the longest non-stop wheelie in a wheelchair, covering a total distances of 6.178 miles. One day he said, “Placing on foot in front of the other, I’ve climbed to higher lengths. Reaching beyond my own limitations, to show my inner strength. No obstacle to hard, for this warrior to overcome. I’m just a man on a mission, to prove my disability hasn’t won.”

“Limitations only go so far.” – this is both the message of Robert M. Hensel, and the truth of what we can do through Christ. God has created each of us with a purpose, and the power to achieve it. He has designed you and me perfectly to achieve that God-given dream, and each trial in the process, God has a beneficial reason for – often to build our character (to make us ready for the next phase of our mission), as well as showcasing what we can do through Christ to the world around us. In doing all this, God – who controls time – promises “He will never leave nor forsake us”, “all things work together for our good and for our purchase”, that “God will never give us a trial we cannot handle through Him”, and that “all we suffer through is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” We just need the courage to believe all this.

Having a disability doesn’t make us different that those without one. Aimee Mullins once said, “I think that everyone has something about themselves that they feel is their weakness. . . their disability. And I’m certain we all have one, because I think of a disability as being anything which undermines our confidence in our own abilities.”

“Disability is a matter of perception, If you can do just one thing, you’re need by someone.” (Martina Natratilova). The Bible talks about how the church body is like the human body, with each body part having its own unique purpose and function to perform. In the analogy, the eye is just as important as the ear, and the ear is just as important as the foot or hand. Without these body parts, the human body cannot function properly. As Albert Einstein once stated, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

There is not one insignificant person in the world as we are all a special creation by the Creator of the Universe. God loves His children equally as He plays no favorites. It’s not what we do, that makes us special, but whose we are. God loves you and me so much that He had His Son murdered on the cross, just for the opportunity to experience an intimate love relationship with us.

There will be a day in heaven where there would be no sorrows, no shame or pain, and no disabilities. So for those who are God’s child, there is an eternal hope for you, as you will be rewarded the crown of life for all our sufferings, So don’t lose hope today, for someday there will be no weeping!

Talking to the unsaved, because of your sins, you will not experience true joy and happiness in the afterlife. What you experience now, is the best you will get. To avoid hell and to experience paradise in heaven, please log on to inpursuitoffreedomministries.com/Salvation.htm to learn how to become a child of God.

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