Disabilities for Life

My health is declining faster as I approach 50. Here goes my list of symptoms experienced daily: because of Cerebral Palsy (C.P.) my feet roll out while my toes turn in so walking is becoming increasingly difficult. I fall much more frequently. There’s no doubt a walker is in my future. Endurance becomes painful due to asthma and constant pressure around my chest. It all makes sense since the abuse my body has suffered from the C.P. brain damage. Adding up my lungs degenerating, menopausal hot flashes and PTSD anxiety attacks, merely walking does me in.
Daily, I have at least one Crohn’s attack where it happens so fast, I fail to reach a toilet in time. There are days when I lose my balance trying to get to my toilet, and run into a wall. I am covered in bruises, aching constantly from falling. My muscles tighten, shake and spasm randomly generating loss of body control, dumping coffee, difficulty with penmanship, and restricting coordination needed to type.
My fortitude limits everything I do, including thought processes and tasks requiring executive functioning. The way aging is tearing down my abilities leads me in a state of depression. Since I live independently, I worry about my near future, and my anxiety soars.
I don’t know what is going to happen. Physically and mentally, I am fading. It’s reminding me now is the time to accomplish all I want to do. Mainly, leaving a legacy.

 

Writing for Survival

I’m writing while I can, as much as I can. For several weeks, each day has brought turmoil, including a HUGE decrease in my Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) leading to facing homelessness AND not being able to afford my best friend and life mate, Jireh (my Service Dog), news that my mother (from whom I have spent half of my adult life estranged) was in serious condition in the hospital, lost a couple close friends, had a cousin die from drug overdose, I fell in front of an oncoming car (hurting myself and almost getting run over), and the list goes on. Having numerous debilitating medical issues (most of which are exacerbated by stress), I truly feel like I can have a heart attack at any moment. For the past two weeks, my health has been chronically declining.

When I received the notice about the cut in my income with June being the hardest month as they were taking out their overpayments in addition to my reduced monthly income, my strong faith cracked. I have supported myself for the past 30 years as I have no contact with relatives. I’m a fighter as I am equipped with God’s strength and wisdom within me. Having the gift of writing, I assured my close friends if I can pay June’s bills, I can find writing jobs to supplement my income starting in July.

After all, Harry Potter book series J.K. Rowling lived in extreme poverty, receiving food stamps, until her books were published. Living in poverty changes people as Rowling states, The very best thing her wealth has given her, she wrote on her website, is the absence of worry. “I have not forgotten what it feels like to worry whether you’ll have enough money to pay the bills. Not to have to think about that anymore is the biggest luxury in the world.”

According to the website, http://www.businessinsider.com,

Living in a cramped apartment with her daughter, jobless and penniless, Rowling fell into a deep depression and admits she even considered suicide. She was forced to rely on state benefits and spent much of her time writing “Harry Potter” in cafés with Jessica sleeping in the pram next to her.

I’ve been there. I think I still am. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and Crohn’s have all held me hostage in the bathroom the past month with concerns about bills, losing friends who think I am a loser freeloader. I feel like a burden most of the time. If I hadn’t had my personal relationship with Jesus, I would either be on drugs, homeless or dead. Each day that I am puking my guts out simultaneously while losing my bowels day after day, all I can think about is I am losing time not writing. July will be here soon. So, today, I wanted to write about having peace beyond understanding because I trust God.

Instead, I am rolled up in a ball on the floor writing on my tablet so I can write how even Christians have mental health issues. And they cannot just be “prayed away” although prayer certainly changes things. In between my night terrors about being homeless and having to live on the street, I am writing AS MUCH AS PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE my book about being real. About following your convictions so you can look in the mirror, which is why I told an editor last night to take my article down because they changed my wording and it did not reflect my ultimate goal of giving all glory to God. (The byline included my personal blog where I could eventually generate income if I get enough readers.)

I’m not giving up I will write my books every day, all day, getting published and out of poverty. My God has never failed me, and never will. In fact, this post will be another chapter in my book, The Christian Bohemian, Not Your Conventional Christian.

One Step Before the Other

Didn’t want to get out of bed as depression has fully materialized.  All of my mental illnesses have taken up residence, along with Crohn’s Disease. It hurts to live. Reality is sinking in.  Before turning to Jesus, the world took over my thought process. Catastrophic “what if’s” swooping in. I can’t do this.

Seeking  comfort from friends by reading Facebook status updates only made things worse. For example, I checked on a friend who’s facing the anniversary of her mother’s death… oh, she’s fine… she’s counting down to a luxurious vacation. So many negative thoughts revolve around my mind, I decide to take Jireh for a walk before starting my day.

Remembering God challenges me to bring my grievances to Him as He says in Isaiah 1:18, “Come, let us reason together…” I start by complaining about my financial situation, and feel God remind me, Shelly, why are you doubting me? Don’t you remember all the times I took care of you by paying off your car, taking care of your student loans, moving you into a nice apartment when you had nothing and was living out of your car… what about when you quit your counseling job due to having a mental breakdown? How quickly you forget! Trust me, My child. As far as you judging your friend’s trip while mourning her mother’s death, aren’t you being hypocritical as you get angry when people don’t understand why you have unexplainable peace when going through major trials? And about your bitterness that you cannot afford luxurious vacations… I have commanded you to set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:2. Fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. –2 Corinthians 4:18. Instead of focusing on temporary things, I want you to finish the work I for which I created you.  As I have said in Colossians 3:23,24 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”.

Of course,  He was right, as always. I watched Jireh spying on squirrels in the magnificent Tallahassee trees, noting God also provided the means for me to relocate to my favorite city. Admiring my neighborhood walk,  I thanked God for my home, then for Jireh being happy and healthy. Now you know why I didn’t allow you to get a new puppy… you would have had to give him up. 

He continued by bringing numerous situations to mind, changing my ungrateful,  bratty attitude to showing me tangible ways He is in control. Trust me, Shelly. You are ready for the next step. Now is the time to put into practice all I have taught you. 

I realized I have spent so many years talking and planning how to use God’s gifts to me, I haven’t followed through until completion. Now is the time. Face it, I don’t have much more time on this earth. I want my life to count.

Holding On

Woke up to resume fight to get Social Security amount back. Found At&t had double charged my account, leaving me with a negative balance again. I am numb. Apathetic. I don’t care.

8:17 a.m. Basically whatever energy I have within is being spent trying not to go insane. Don’t think I have the strength . Functioning on God’s power inside me. Have fallen past the state of depression. Think God is protecting me with this apathy. Yesterday, I was ready to fight. Now that office hours are open, I’ve made phone calls, only to find things worsening. I know God has this, and God has me,
10:03 a.m. Crohn’s Disease is officially on attack mode. My health conditions seem to gather together… having a reunion inside me. Taking over my mind, body… but never my soul.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16
Nothing can touch my soul. Once I accepted Jesus as Savior in 8th grade, God sent His Spirit into my heart.
3:30 p.m. The fog lingers… My external situation is worsening, I watch the clock move, anxious because I know Cathy will stop Facetiming me when she gets off work at 5pm. We haven’t talked much, yet having her “with me” is what keeps me from hiding in bed. My Agoraphobia, P.T.S.D. and severe anxiety have all showed up. I am okay with Cathy online with me… but what’s going to happen when she has to go take care of her family?
I will read my Bible and write for the rest of the night. I will be easy on myself as I felt God leading me to redefine my ministry today based on Paul’s ministry in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4. That is not much, but it’s progress. Between discovering a new ministry and making necessary phone calls, I have accomplished a lot considering my entire life is in a state of uncertainty. The details will be soon forgotten, but my reaction will remain. I have faith. I trust God. I am taking this one hour at a time, wanting nothing more than to glorify God.

He Provides

Since I have had to go on Disability, I have dreaded paydays. My bills overshadow the income, even on my minalmist lifestyle. Naturally, I feel alone, helpless, and like a failure being this limited at my age. Knowing the smallest emergency can impede my ability to provide for myself frightens me into a severe panic attack, as well as a Crohn’s Disease flare up.

For example, I had a bad fall on a cement parking lot two weeks ago. Within days, my hand became swollen and infectious. A few of my friends gave me the same advice- go to the doctor . I was too prideful to confess that wasn’t an option since I had no money for the copayment, nevermind money for an antibiotic. Plus, I had a feeling I would need X-rays, leading to a radiology bill.

I stopped going out around friends and when asked, proclaimed my hand was much better. Someone asked if I had a fever when I made a comment about MRSA. Embarrassed, I admitted I did not own a thermometer. Basically, I live like a squatter. There was a time when I had more than the minimal survival tools and money in the bank. But that was before my mental breakdown in 2008 when I donated everything I owned to charity and lived out of my car for periods of time.

Since I was making decisions from survival mode, my estranged relatives (who never believed in psychology, which I found out upon declaring my major in college was Psychology), likely had images of me being carried away in a straight jacket by men in white coats, kept their distance more than ever. My church and friends pretty much followed along, leaving me all alone… but Jesus stayed. In fact, He pulled me closer. This was time He made Himself clearly known to me.

I had nothing… I had no one… except I had Jesus… and with Him came an unspeakable peace and comfort surpassing all understanding. Since then, I have had all I TRULY needed.

The past ten years haven’t been the easiest, but they have been the best as I have been forced to depend on Jesus, my Savior. He has never abandoned me, even when I try to run away from Him. I have gone without food, medical care, heat, and family.

It has all been worth it to me. If I hadn’t lost everything, I would have missed out on this priceless relationship with Christ. I have learned to trust Him completely. The more I walk with Him, the more He blesses me.

So today when I sat down to figure out which bill I would have to put off, somehow, my SSDI covered all of my basic needs. Wow! Unbelievable. Well, unbelievable to non-believers, but for me… I looked up and imagined Jesus smiling at me. After all, He is Jehovah Jireh … My Provider.