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Today’s story is written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared regular stories on my site since February 2015. The purpose of her writing is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness, and serves as a gentle reminder for all of us to continually press forward towards mental health and wholeness. If you’d like to read the stories I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the stories she’s shared on this site, check out Tiffany’s Story. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.

A lot of changes have occurred over the past few months. At first, I was hesitant about some of the changes, but they are necessary for our family to move forward. I have realized that my everyday routines and habits, and changes I need and want to make, all start with me. I need to implement the changes and follow through with them.

Sometimes I feel like I’m looked down upon by people for spending so much time with my mom and dad. Sometimes I hear that they wish they had more time with their parents. Life is short! I spend time with my parents because the kids and I love them. My parents have been there for me and my kids through darkness and into the light. I like to think that we’re taking care of each other since they are getting older.

I never imagined life being this way. A single mom with many mental health diagnoses. My parents trying to help out any way they can. I live just houses away from them, so we are neighbors. My dad wanting to live his definition of the retired lifestyle. My parents holding my hand when I am down, especially my mom. They help with my children when I need time away. If I need help watching the kids when I have appointments, they help make that happen. When we have nothing to make for meals at our house, they help with food. When my house is a completely-disorganized mess, my mom comes over to help organize and clean. Overall, they support me, even when they’d probably rather be doing something else.

For years, I lived in a very dark place. I was scared that because of my decisions in life, people were going to hurt my family. I spent days alone in my mind, thinking the darkest thoughts possible, not wanting to feel completely alone. My parents brought me out of that dark place, even when I hated them for doing so. For many years, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be alive. Having kids saved my life, along with the help of my parents. My parents have accepted me for me, most of the time.

Initially my parents did not want to help discipline the kids, but that has changed over time. I am also learning discipline techniques from professionals. I utilize my parents techniques combined with the professionals’ ideas. I’d have to say that I am finally catching on to the whole discipline idea, without having to scream. That took work. When we are lonely at home, we often visit grandpa and grandma. They are our neighbors after all. I have made the decision to never get married and to stay single. My kids’ dad has no desire to be with me, so I do what I can do as a single mom. My point is that I don’t have a partner to share life with, so my parents help out with the loneliness factor. My mom usually buys my kids a couple outfits to wear every season. The clothing she selects matches. My clothing selections for the kids, not so much. When I feel defeated, they are there to help me crawl out of my hole. My parents are wonderful, and I would not exchange them, even if I had the choice!

I was told that because of my suicide attempts and overdoses, part of my brain was injured. I don’t think I’ve caught on to math concepts?! My daughter’s second grade homework can be very difficult for me to understand at times. My mom, being the teacher she is, usually helps out every weekday with my daughter’s math. I help with spelling and reading. Xander, my preschooler, enjoys doing “homework” with grandma too. They are two very smart kids who are blessed to have grandparents like they do.

My daughter, son and I spend a lot of time with my mom and dad, but they need their time alone too! My dad would like more time with my mom, which I feel he is starting to get now. That’s why we’ve been limiting our time with my mom and dad a lot over the past couple months. Ideally, I’d like for my parents to trust the decisions I make and live in some kind of peace. I do not want to be a burden to them at all. I’d like to make a number of changes moving forward with our family of three in order to become more independent from my mom and dad.

The various appointments I have to take care of my mental health concerns are separate from my relationship with my mom and dad. I see a psychiatrist, psychologist, a mental health practitioner, and I’m currently doing PTSD therapy. Those along with mental health appointments for my kids keep me busy! The people that the kids and I work with make me very happy.

As I stated earlier, I am getting better at disciplining the kids. I use techniques from both the professionals we work with and my parents. I used to scream a lot, but not anymore. Calmness at all times seems to work, along with the kids realizing that I am the parent and I have authority over them.

I had very little to no routine before I had children. I now realize that both children thrive off of routines, but I have to work on that. My discipline before was very lax because I was treating my children, especially Raegan, as a friend. With the help of professionals, I can confidentially say that my discipline with the kids is a lot better now. Sometimes my son, Xander, tells me that I’m mean and that he hates me. I have learned to just ignore that behavior. I must be doing something right? For the past year, Xander has been attending a group with children who could possibly have mental health and behavioral issues. He graduated from that group because he is doing so well. He also has an IEP in preschool, which helps get him services for being, what they say, developmentally delayed in some areas. I just had a conference with his teachers, and he is doing extremely well in most areas that he lacked in before. My daughter, Raegan, was just put on medication for ADD/ADHD. The process of getting her on a medication was thorough, but so worth it. I was hesitant about putting her on meds, but we tried everything else. The results from the medication have been wonderful so far!

I would like to make easier meals at our place so we are not interfering so much with my mom and dad’s schedule. I’d also like to have my kids make healthier choices when it comes to food and drink. Healthier choices come from me offering those options. Sometimes a cereal and toast dinner is alright with us, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. More physical time outdoors and in the fresh air is always a healthy decision. Raegan, Xander and I love being outdoors, so I can guarantee that summer is going to allow that to happen.

Overall, our family is moving forward with positive energy. My parents have done a lot for our family of three and we still have a lot of work to do, but I’m confident about us. I’m confident that the kids enjoy my easy meals just as much as grandma’s?! I feel good when we don’t have to rely on food from my mom and dad. I just have to prioritize food when I get paid each month. I could probably completely take care of my needs and the kids’ needs alone, but I have realized over the years that I am never alone. I always have someone to help. Nobody is really ever alone. I used to worry about everything, but I am beginning to feel and experience the reality of real love. Why worry when we are doing the best job we can? All I like to do is take one day at a time. We’re all really just trying to survive in the happiest way possible!

Tiffany

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One day, you’ll pass through a place, a least-suspecting place. And it’ll occur to you that you’ve lost every piece of you.

You, beautiful you. You who were created with a design in mind. You who were created to breathe, be and bask in beauty. You who were created to live full, real and true. You whose soul was made for more. You, dear you, you lost yourself.

Sit with that.

You lost yourself.

Somewhere along the way, someday became the way. Circumstance turned to circumstance upon circumstance. Come what may became your day, after day, after day.

Come what may.

Come what may.

Come what may.

But come what may didn’t serve you well, did it? Because here you are. Barren. Hollowed out. Nothing but a body walking, talking with nothing inside but come what may. That emptiness, how does it feel? Sit with it, my friend. How does it feel? Do you feel anything anymore?

You’ve done your duty, sacrificed for the greater good, tended and nurtured everything and everyone, lived and loved to the best of your ability. But the question begs to be asked. If you don’t tend to yourself, won’t your soul wither under the weight of coulds, shoulds and should haves? And the Bible says love your neighbor as yourself, but what if you haven’t been loving yourself?

So today I’m asking…

What do you need?

What is it that you need?

Let’s make space for that, for what you NEED.

Take care, my friend.

Take hold.

Take hold of YOU, the YOU that’s more than coulds, shoulds and should haves. The YOU that’s created specially, uniquely, the YOU you know is inside. Take hold of her. Be tender and gentle towards her, the woman who’s still standing after ALL this, ALL that, all the world’s weight upon her shoulders.

Let’s go, now. Let’s search the ruins, explore this least-suspecting place. Let’s gather remnants of you, fill the spaces hollowed by come what may. It’s time for you, my friend. It’s time to harvest the remnants, the bits and pieces, the fabric of you.

Look.

Stand and look.

See what you need to see.

Where are you? Do you know where you are anymore?

Where have you been? Where, oh where, have you been?

It’s okay to just stand there and take it in. It’s okay to acknowledge where you are and where you’ve been. Nobody will give you that permission but you. Take it in. Acknowledge it. Claim it. Because you are fierce and strong, and only YOU and God know what YOU know. Only YOU and God know where you’ve been, where you are, where you’re going, indeed. Stand there, my friend. Stand where you need to stand. Stand. There you are. Here you are. Here.

Let’s gather remnants now.

Look over there. Look at the mess. Right there on the table. Everyone got up and left. And there you are with the mess. Just look at it. Look at the way you’ve treated yourself, as if you don’t matter, as if your sole existence is to to take care of everyone’s mess. It’s good to take care of messes, my friend. It’s our call to help others in need. But it’s not our responsibility to manage every mess we encounter. It’s time to start looking at the messes and ask important questions. Is this my mess? Did they leave this mess because they know I’ll clean it up? Am I just good for messes, or am I more than messes? Am I needed in this mess? Should I clean it? Should I leave it? Or would everyone be better served if everyone took part in the cleaning? The questions are endless, my friend. Just stand there. Look at the mess. Look at the pain. Pick up your part. Perhaps it’s time to leave the rest, that bit of a mess, right there on the table. Then remember your remnants, remnants of you left tableside.

Let’s head over here, to the YOU who once was. Look. Just look. This is who you used to be. YOU before come what may. THIS is the YOU you loved, the YOU you embraced, the YOU you saw as beautiful. This is the YOU who had vision, clear vision. This is the place you came back to, the place you found YOU, every time. Is she gone? I don’t think so, my friend. She’s still there, waiting quietly. Come in. Be you. Become you again. Pick up the remnants, put on the garments. Feel beautifully YOU again.

What about there, the place you meandered in and back out as if it didn’t bother you a bit? You’re not sure you belong there, are you? You love that place. It feels like home, a warm and familiar place to rest. But you’re just not sure. Is this home? Or is this a show? Pick up a remnant, my friend. Pick up the one that feels right. If this is your home, let this be your home. If this is your place, your space, your place to BE, then BE. So look around. Pick up that remnant. See what’s yours. Take it. Stay a little longer. Stroll and see what fits. Feel the textures. Linger. Look. Pick things up, put them down if they don’t work. But gather the remnants of you, my friend. Don’t leave without a few. It’s YOU who will lose if you don’t take remnants of YOU where you find them. It’s OTHERS who will suffer if YOU’RE not fully YOU.

This remnant-collecting journey won’t be complete unless we take a take a stroll through baggage, the baggage of whether you deserve all these remnants or not. Do you deserve those remnants, those pieces unique to YOU and only YOU? Do you deserve something FOR you? Do you deserve that thing GOD wants for you? Do you deserve the life God planned for you? Touch the bags. Feel the remnants. Stand there in the beauty. Now I know you hate the word “deserve.” It’s not a good word at all, friend. I know. Most of the time you’re not sure you “deserve” anything at all. But there’s not a word that fits better. Bare with me, dear one. Here’s what I’m saying, the best way I can say it. You have been gifted with grace, the amazing grace of life. Accept the gift. Live the life God’s given you. Just pick it up, my friend. PICK. IT. UP. Pick up the most beautiful remnant you can find. It’s not too expensive for Jesus. He already paid the price. He already said you don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to be the wealthiest woman in the block. In fact, you can’t afford that remnant. So take it. You deserve it, He says. Or maybe not at all. But grace is my gift. To you. Take all the beautiful remnants you can. Find them where you may. Gather them and store them, for the days are long and your future is certain.

We’re walking now, closer and closer to you, the YOU you’d lost, the YOU who’d been emptied, the YOU you’d left behind. Tell me, dear friend. Tell me. Have you gathered a few remnants? Remnants needed? Remnants necessary? Remnants new? Remnants of you?

Bring them. We’re almost here. You’ll need those remnants for the journey. We need you. ALL of you. Let it be said. We. need. you.

Back to the center now. Here we are. You have some remnants, I know you do. Maybe just a few.

Stand there. Still. Just stand and listen.

He’s playing now. Do you hear it? He’s playing your song. You can see it, the way He’s looking at you, the way He’s making eye contact with you, the way He’s following your every move when the world’s pulling at your feet, distracting you, telling you it’s time to go, it’s time to be done with this remnant-finding nonsense.

Don’t be done, my friend. Don’t leave. Stand still despite the pull. You’ve come this far. Don’t stop now. Keep the remnants tucked in your pockets. Keep the remnants stuffed up your sleeves. He’s still watching you. The pain is growing, the pain is welling inside. You’re not done growing. You’re not done collecting remnants. Look. SEE. He’s STILL playing your song. He sees you’re about to burst into tears. He sees those remnants hanging from your pockets, those remnants slipping from your sleeves. He plays. He just plays. He keeps on playing and playing. For you, my love. For you. Keep listening. Keep SEEING Him SEE you. He is playing your song.

You want to run. You want to hide. You don’t want anyone to see the you that’s truly you. “Forget it,” you say to yourself. “This remnant collecting adventure was the stupidest, lamest adventure ever. I don’t need these remnants. The pain is calling, pulling, never-ending. I just need to run. Go. Get out of this place. These remnants? Whatever. They were just pieces of fabric, anyway. Who needs these pieces of me but me, anyway?”

No, He calls.

Stop running.

Listen.

Come closer.

I see you. I see you across the way.

Stand with your remnants.

Let every fiber of your being, every fiber of those remnants STAND.

Hear the notes.

Listen to your song.

Stand strong when the world is pulling.

Look at my smile. I’m looking at you.

I love you.

Remnants of you.

 

  1. Jeanie christian says:

    That was well written.

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