Louder Now Episode #28: 7 Years Later

7 years ago on this day I had the most intense experience. I tried to suicide by overdose. 7 years later I am alive and living with purpose. I went into a coma and after much prayer from friends, family and Newlife Pomona I came out of the coma without any brain damage or memory loss. I look back at how dark and awful those 8 months were leading up to this event. I see now that God had His hand all over my life and was with me the whole time. I went through a lot of acceptance after spending 5 months in the hospital after this event took place. I needed a balance of faith and medicine and since then I have never been the same. I have honestly been in a hard season this past 9 months with depression. I am still human and still struggling.

I don’t have it figured out. How many people saw a miracle or even experienced one yet still struggle to keep their eyes on Jesus? Faith is a constant process and so is hope. At the end of this video I thank all the people that have helped me along the way. My family, my job, my doctor’s, churches and most of all COMMUNITY. Having friendships has helped me so much and having people that lift me up and encourage me help fight the stigma. I feel like a broken record every time I post something but ask for help. Those three words: I need help is something we should all live by. Reach out. Build your faith. Ask for help. Ask for wisdom with doctor’s and medicine( if you need it you might need it and that’s okay). Thanks to everyone who continues to support me in prayer and in relationship. Today is a special day. ( this is a shorter version of The Beginning Again starting with my time in Kansas City from 2004 to 2012). For the whole version watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rLJ8…

#depression #mentalillness #suicideprevention #askforhelp #nami #anxiety #speakingout #havinghope #hopeisfound

Take Today

Poetic reflections on what God is doing in my life.Take Today

Take me into something new

Where I no longer don’t have a clue

For we have a whole lot of history

But where would I be without mystery.Take me out of this misery

Where I rarely want company

Where it hasn’t been you and me

Where sadness has had to much to say

Where love has nowhere to stay.Take me out of the old and place me into the

New. where it so begins again, stories of me

And youI am longing for a new day one brighter than today

Where light overpowers the dark,

Where I feel you a little,And more than just a spark.Where I see something better about

Tomorrow for today has enough sorrow and

Pain that has held itself against me.I am trapped inside of yesterday

Carrying its troubles to another day

But only you can set free

And change me,Truly, truly is all I hear

You say to me!For most of us feel trapped inside our own

Home and most of are longing, still, to be known

Whether or not there was a virus we still have a

Disease and a problem with addiction

We still have a story, a true and tried nonfiction

Yesterday has dominated today and what’s left of

Today is what is gonna happen tomorrow

But where is now and what is has to offer

Is it just to painful here at the altar, All I sense is sorrow from what has been

And what I can’t see is the new You create

And the voice that isn’t hate, but love and

Perfection, a new take on everything

You take the old and make it new

You take this forced stillness and make it

A time to speak, a time to seek, and a time to

Hide is no longer how I want to live. You take me out of yesterday and put me in

Today and today is where you are

Where stillness isn’t far and where pain is

Near but so is Your healing and so is Your dealings

With me and with all that You have planned.I embrace the new and all it has to offer

I lay it down, all that I have to offer.I give it to You,Again and again

Take all of me

Take all of today

4 Ways To Keep a Burning Heart

This has been a hard season for all and its no mistake that we all have something to say about it. I would like to use this time( like anyone should when they post something) to bring encouragement and wisdom to the free time we are having. I have not used my time wisely in my hard season of dealing with depression. I have drifted away from putting the Scripture in front of me and ever since the quarantine started I have been diving back into the word and it has been making a world of difference. Having time on my hands has been a great test of where I put my focus. I want that perfect peace that comes from focus on Jesus( Isa.26:3).
I am not the first to suggest that we take this time seriously before the Lord and place our hearts in focus on Him. Here are some ways to keep ourselves burning in this time.
I have used the word BURN and broken this into 4 ways to keep that fire going in God.
BURDENS Often we come to God with a heavy heart and we should but do we take that heaviness and submit our concerns to Him. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast our cares for He cares for us. And Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear each other’s burdens. We are called, as individuals, to submit our cares to God and also called to help each other in prayer, love and support with their burdens. When we can take this heaviness and give it to God we find space for His presence to work in and through us.
UNITY Staying connected to each other has been forced in this season but unity is a supernatural power that comes from Jesus. ( 1 Cor. 1:10; Eph.4:13; Col. 3:14). Often times the thing that keeps us from unity is unforgiveness and bitterness. I have started in the book of Mathew and I plan to study the Gospels in this season but I like the Sermon on the Mount where is says in Mathew 5:23-24 ” Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Usually we are not unified with Christ because we are in need of reconciliation with our brothers or sisters in Christ, or anyone else. What keeps us from burning for God and staying fresh in His presence is this need we have for peace with each other. Take care of your offenses and God will take care of giving us His presence.
RENEW I remember in my years living in Kansas City Mike Bickle used to talk( all the time) about reading 10 chapters a day and pray-reading the word of God. Not just reading it but praying through it. Taking Scriptures and praying and asking for transformation while we read. I am committing to getting back to this Romans 12:2 lifestyle of renewing my mind daily. Our foundation is the word of God. It is the only way we grow and change and especially in this time of crisis we need to stand on His promises.
NEW LIFE. We are a new creation( 2 Cor. 5) and we live now according to our new way of life( Romans 6:4). Often times our struggle is with old ways of thinking and old ways of living. It is also a matter of who we are friends with. Do we have true fellowship with those that are also walking in newness of life or are we still associating with friends that are not living this way? Read Romans 1-8 for more details on how we are a new creation. Take a stand against the old ways that try to tell us we have not changed. Find ways to get around those that will encourage you and challenge your faith.
I hope this helps you in this season. I have found much strength and encouragement in putting this four areas to practice. Let’s go after His word and do it together. This season is only going to make us stronger if we enter into the grace that is available to focus on Him.

Waiting

Coming out of the fog of depression and into the light. Here’s a reflection.
Waiting
Waiting on You,
Making it all about the things
You do.
You work and own all of my history
Where would I be without Your mystery.
For Your Gospel has made You at the center
For You speak and break chains
And chains have been following me
Bound and not free.
I am waiting on You,
Waiting on You for change
This house needs a rearrange,
For I am still waiting on You to move
Things around,
I am waiting on You to change this town.
I am waiting on You to answer my cry,
For these days I have a lot of why.
I feel desperate for change,
Desperate for something to shift
Desperate for this fog to lift.
For all I’ve known has been depression
For all that is there it feels like oppression.
There’s pain and sorrow in the wake of each day
There’s this feeling that this is never going to go away.
It disappears slowly and surely
Where did hope go and has it gone so slow.
Come with Joy and come with it fast
You hold life eternal all that will last.
Do I know you now as God provider
Do I follow You as God the Father?
Am I hidden with You in that You do
Cause I am waiting for change and
Waiting for words written to live inside
Of me.
What is the cost of waiting on You
What have You done for me
The cloud is a thing that makes me
To barely see,
The dark is close and yet I feel it fading
Away.
I am waiting for Your light to make way
And for this life to live another day
A day without sorrow and the pain
Of depression, but days where hope
Is all I am waiting for and all I am
Living for

Seeking and Searching

I have been using this time to reflect on my journey of mental health and how faithful God has been in the process. God has truly been the source of all the hard questions I have asked over the years. It hasn’t been easy dealing with depression and bipolar. It has forced me to trust God in a deeper way.
This is called Seeking and Searching.
Seeking and searching
You call me into the deep things
Into the unknown,
Out of my comfort zone.
I have been searching and seeking for
a place You call home,
A place where I feel I am known.
You give grace and mercy when I
least expect it and shine light where
I would reject it.
You fix this broken heart
And call me afresh to a new start
This day You have called me forth
To a new search, to a new way of
Living as the church.
You call me into the deep things
And ask of me to sing new songs.
I used to be quiet about the struggle
About the diagnosis,
About the way this disease has effected
Me,
It feels as though it has not stayed hidden
For I have searched and I seek to find some
Rest,
For it has been my greatest test.
My faith has been a war within,
Are you healer, are you strong,
Are you the depth that will last long?
I seek and search for You in this time of
Testing, in this time of crisis, in this time
Of needing more than just words to be
True but a life of power that comes only
From walking with You.
You have become an all consuming fire
A birth to a new desire,
It has come from seeking,
It has come from searching
I am loud now,
Loud about the pain that follows me
Loud about the hopelessness that I have
Faced,
Loud about finding You in the secret place
Loud about hope that comes from You
Loud about spending all my time trying to
Search and seek and make it all about You.
I search and seek,
And choose You this day

New Mercies

More poetic reflections on my journey.
Waking up to a new day,
Where new mercies are the way
I hear the blessing in the rain,
I feel less of the pain,
You are the healer of this brain.
Waking up and trying to find You,
Where have You gone off to
And where is the one that has always
Provided.
These mercies I pursue
For I am in need of more of You
I have been finding solace in the
Hidden
Where you call me deeper and out in
The open
Where we seek Your voice and the places
You have spoken
Where I wake up and I know I am
Chosen.
I walk through this darkness and let the
Light in,
I walk through this sorrow and borrow
Your new mercy,
I seek You for I am thirsty,
I lean on You in all of this,
I press into You no matter the
Cost,
I walk as if I am not lost
But as if I am found
Safe and sound and in Your arms.
I wake up with a new vision
I wake up with hope for a new
Mission.
I follow You and worship You
In that you do
I remember You.
You made this day
And you made this rest.
I put my faith, now, to the
Test.
It’s time to rise for today is new
It’s time to fight and to set the
Sight on the merciful one.
I wake up with mercies that are new
I wake up with eyes stayed on You.

Fade Away

More poetic reflections on my journey with depression.
Waking up to a feeling of fright
Gracefully made it through the night
Trying to get this right
Trying to find some might
Maybe You are who You say You are
Remembering the left wrist and the
Time it was to close to call
When the last I remember was a great
Fall and a fade away.
All that is in front of me is the darkness
And it creeps in with boldness
But where is God and where is the light
Where is the right?
Am I going to far left
And to far lost
And to far gone,
Cause I am fading, too
And where are You
Where are You in all of this.
I see You just barely
I feel You just rarely
I know You but only simply
When did this get so complicated
When did You fade, fade away like
Into the blue You are in a different place
You feel gone and lost away from this place
I feel I have lost my way
Trying to find You
Trying to make it through
Trying to survive
Without the will to live
Where you are?
Have you faded away too
Help me find You
Help me see You
You are in the midst of this place
You have to be here
Where else can I go or
Try to run from Your presence
Waking up to a feeling of fright
Gracefully made it through the night
Trying to get this right
You are good no matter what I feel
You are good no matter what I go
Through, You are the center of this
Storm, and Your eyes don’t fall from
Seeing me in this place.
You have not faded away from this place
You see me here.
My vision will become clear
I am starting to feel You near.

My Depression, Part 2( Old Post)

I wrote an article back in January about how I have been dealing with depression. This season of life has been one of the hardest in a long time. I am now on my 8th month of feeling depressed and not stable. A week ago I was at the end of my stay in the hospital and 2 weeks ago I did a short stay in a psychiatric emergency room. Facebook has always been a place where people vent and sometime vomit their personal opinions but can also feel like no one is really being real with what is going on inside of them. I am seeking to comfort those who are afflicted with depression by sharing my own struggles.
I have been lacking the motivation to do all things that need to be done for me to live a normal life. Everything has been hard and my dark thoughts have been harder to fight each and everyday. It feels like instead of taking it one day at at time that I am taking it one hour at at time.
Here is what I am learning. Some main truths to hold onto.
#1 I need to TRUST in the Lord with all my heart.
It is easy to talk about trusting God when things are going your way but what about when we really feel like we can’t feel or see Him. I have broken down TRUST to mean:
Totality- it is all our heart we are called to give and all of our life we are called to lay down. Depression wants to steal the wholehearted commitment we have for God.
Righteousness- walking in the truth that we are the righteousness of Christ, and we can’t earn that. It is part of walking as a new creation. Depression steals and kills these simple truths and pulls us away from them.
Understanding- Lean not on your own understanding but in all your way acknowledge Him. I am learning to not lean on my own understanding especially when it comes to taking medications and having to depend on the help of doctor’s. I don’t have to understand everything going on around me or in me but He wants to lean on Him.
Sacrifice- Trusting Him means we sacrifice our will and our ideas and our strategy and lay that down to know His will even more. Depression steals you away from real sacrifice and makes everything about what you aren’t doing and where you aren’t seeing Him in your life.
Together- Trusting Him for real friendships and relationships. Having this in our life makes all the difference. Depression isolates you from connection and without connection you lack purpose and without purpose you lack hope and hope makes us come alive and walk in Joy on the inside.
#2- I need people. I have been reaching out to everyone I know asking for prayer in this time. It has forced me to walk in humility over my situation. People are needed in my life to pull me through. I think of the passage in Luke 5 when the paralyzed man needs people to pull him closer to the feet of Jesus. It seems like it wasn’t just his friends that helped lift him over the roof but it was also and could have been random people that are around. Asking for help can be the hardest thing we ever do. It leaves us venerable and in need and that need comes out when we are asking others to pray for us. My church every Sunday morning does a call for those that are hurting and need prayer. I have been raising my hand every week asking for prayer. I am texting people everyday updating them on how I am doing. I need people.
#3- The bigger perspective. Life is short and flies by. Often you see a theme in movies and shows where characters are asking hard questions about themselves and their story. It comes down to living a life without regret. Taking chances. Having faith. Finding love. Losing love but to the point that it doesn’t lose you. Depression has been making me feel like this is it for me. That I am going to struggle this way forever and it can’t really get that much better even though I spent the worst year of my life in 2013 to then having the best 6 years of life to follow. Can I really get back to that place of feeling stable like I did for 6 years? This feeling of depression can’t last forever.
#4 Trusting doctor’s. I have never been in the doctor’s office so much and in touch with my psychiatrist. This hard time has forced me to trust in the medical process especially with changes to medications that have been happening. It has forced me to trust my doctor on a whole new level.
I hope this post brings encouragement to you. If you are someone struggling with bipolar or depression ask for prayer and help from those around you. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Dealing With Depression, part 3

Dealing with my depression, Part 3.
I have been in a really hard season since August. I went to the hospital, in August, because of a manic episode and spent 2 weeks changing medications and getting myself back to a stable place. My mania calmed down over time and my sleep came back to me but I was left feeling numb and depressed. I managed to function in life but at the bare minimum. My depression over the course of this season got worse and worse. My medicine also kept changing as the doctor was trying to figure out how to get me to a better place of stability. The hardest part of med changes is what it does to you mentally and physically. I went to the hospital again just before Christmas and when I entered into January we started taking me off of certain medications that we felt I maybe didn’t need anymore. This made my depression worse.
My lack of motivation and lack of energy was driving me to this dark place. I have been here before but it has been years since I felt this way. I went through the worse year of my life in 2013 where I had suicidal thoughts daily. I tried to suicide 3 times in 4 months and the last try was so severe that I almost died. I survived and managed to overcome the negative symptoms of my bipolar. I was doing pretty great for a good 6 years but this past year has been a major test of my trust in God. I started getting dark thoughts again the end of February and that led to another hospitalization. This time around we made another change to the medications but this time for the better. After a few days I started feeling better and by day five I was ready to go home. One of the passages of Scripture that has been on my mind has been John 5. The story of the man who thinks he can’t get better. Jesus, in His mercy, heals him despite all of the excuses that he makes.
Do you really to get better?

John 5:5-9 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”

So, here I am making myself vulnerable to you on Facebook talking about my issues. All of us can relate to this man. We have access to healing and the power of God through faith but it seems like our brokenness gets the best of us sometimes and we can’t find a way to move forward. This has been a hard time for the world and our society. We are being forced to rely on each other in a new way but will we accept the healing invitation?

There is a Proverb found in 14:10 that says, ” Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” I believe this captures suffering and pain. We get so used to a bitter and disappointed heart that we can’t find a way to connect with people in true joy and fellowship. It takes amazing grace and humility to ask for help. To come out of internal war within and to break out into asking for help.

Practical applications:

#1 Don’t make excuses. It is easy to complain and get caught up in our circumstances but God has provided a sufficient grace for us. There is always a way out and usually it happens by asking for help from others. He has given us everything we need for a Godly life( 2 Peter 1).

#2 Ask for help. The smallest of Scriptures with the largest implication is Psalm 12:1, “Help, Lord!” We need God’s help and God uses people. I wrote a Facebook post the other day highlighting all of the people( 50 plus) that have prayed with me and helped me in this hard season that I have been in. I believe the feeling I have of being better in this past week has been related to all of the help and support I have asked for. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for people praying with me and encouraging me.

#3 Take action. Faith without works is dead and we all know this. God is calling us to act on our faith. To pray for those around us. Prayer is action. Prayer is acting on God’s promises and holding God to them. He wants to move in our lives. We need to pick up our excuses and our self-pity and walk. We need to trust that by moving in faith He will break in and deliver!

#4 Don’t compare. It is easy to be like this man and look around at what everyone else is doing. To scroll to much through Facebook and compare ourselves to others and to imagine a story that isn’t in reality. The man by the pool couldn’t see his chance for healing because he was busy watching what everyone else was doing instead of acting in faith himself .

I shared what I did earlier in this article to show you that I have struggled. I am still figuring out how to manage the symptoms of my bipolar and it has not been easy. I often have the thought that I hate it. I hate that I have to spend all of this time and energy getting help from doctor’s and therapists and medications but God has been faithful and has used all of it.

Please reach out for help and act in faith that in voicing your struggle there is hope. I have wrestled with hopelessness and it has not won. I am in a much better place today because of the people that have helped me get up and walk! You can do the same. Reach out and see what God does when you do.

 

My depression

I recently wrote that this has been a hard season of life. I have been dealing with my depression. I have been in a low. Getting out of bed is hard and finding the motivation to go to school and go to work has been equally as hard. I have had so many changes in my medications that I think some of my numbness to enjoying life has been caused by these changes. Medicine has always helped me but really this past year I have been in the hospital 3 different times and each time it has been a major setback. It has cost me money. I have missed work. I am always working harder to get caught up once I am out. It has cost me time. I spend a lot of time in the doctor’s office trying to get myself back to a place of stability. I have had a year of feeling down and especially since the summer this has been true. So, what does a faith believing person like me do with depression.
I hope this finds you well and stirs a deeper conversation that I have been having with myself.
#1 Faith is always tested in hard times. Our faith is our belief in something greater than ourselves. Our belief that God’s truth is greater than our feelings and our circumstances. When I find myself depressed and lacking motivation I feel I am in a test. Will I trust God to pull me through and pull me out of my sadness even. Often the answer is that God will pull me through but not take me out. My faith gets tested in these hard days because so little of me feels God close to me and I wonder where is God in my struggle.
#2 My sense of self-worth. There is a lot of negativity around depression. Negative thoughts and ideas floating around your head but controlling you at the same time. A loud voice is the voice of self-worth. The voice that says, “You aren’t good enough!” And you aren’t really good enough to get out of this depression. These loud voices dominant my mind and take me down a dark path. I know that my worth comes from Christ and there is grace to combat the negative thoughts. I do have power( more than I know) over my mind.
#3 The past can’t be changed. Often the past is the place that I want to change. Past year of hospital visits all could have been avoided if I had just taken my medications and stayed on the structured schedule. My past is over and the best way to move forward is to learn from it. It is easy in depression to live somewhere ‘else’ and that place is a place you shouldn’t stay long. My future is full of hope and even if I have messed up there is grace.
#4 Forgiveness. In depression comes bitterness and bitterness can come from not forgiving. In my sadness I want to blame and hold onto issues with people and find someone to put in the place of blame. God is calling me to lay down those offenses and reconcile. As the Scripture says, “Go and be reconciled first to your brother before you offer your gift to God.”
#5 Community. It is easy to isolate. Proverbs says, ” A man that isolates himself breaks out against all sound judgment.” I want to hide from people and not allow my community of faith to help me. When I was in the hospital last month I had friends from church come and see me in the hospital. It meant a lot to me that people around me care and help me see the light when I am in such a dark place. Having community is crucial to getting better.
I have been struggling with finding joy in the things that I am doing. I have been struggling with getting past these episodes that I have been having. I have been having a hard time falling asleep, showing up to work, waking up, making money, going to doctor visits, taking medications, exc. But all of it is part of the process so I am persevering in the midst of feeling bad.
I hope you can find hope in these words. I have made a commitment to talk about mental health even if I am not feeling great. This is me talking about it.