Miss Independent

Miss Independance

It took me a long time to get to the place where I felt strong and independent.  Once I felt like I had finally found my independence and I had matured, learning that what other people say, think or feel about me didn’t matter. I felt strong and successful.

I accomplished so much during those times… Epic (and I mean EPIC) book drives, volunteering, public speaking… The list went on and I feel so successful. I took my next leap of independence and then suddenly, everything came crashing down.

If you don’t know my story, you can read it here. Read about my recovery here.

When my Bipolar Disorder (undiagnosed at the time) got out of hand and my life came crashing down around me, so did my independence. Suddenly I was back at home living with my parents, sleeping in my childhood bedroom. It took months before I could do anything on my own. My mom described it as having an adult toddler in her home.

I couldn’t put my socks on by myself because it took too much decision making as to which foot goes first. I needed to be told exactly what to do or I would lay there and do nothing. For the first few weeks I even needed my mom to sit on the bed beside me so I could fall asleep. It was an all-time low for me.

Once I started getting better, I began struggling with my lack of independence. I was ashamed of what had happened to me. I was ashamed of how sick I had become and how much help I needed to recover. Even more so, all my successful moments in my life that helped define who I was and what I had done were clouded with the concept that I was simply having a manic episode.

I felt like a failure.

There’s a country song that I hear on the radio all the time. The one line says, “Feelin pretty good and that’s the truth, It’s neither drink nor drug induced.” Of course I understand what the song writer meant by this, but every time I hear it my heart sinks. It would just be so great if I could feel great without having to take medication every day. But I can’t. That’s my life.

The past few years I have struggled to figure out where my independence is with my Bipolar Disorder. But I’ve learned something pretty amazing during this journey.

  • Independence doesn’t mean doing it on your own. It means knowing when to ask for help.
  • Independence doesn’t mean not being sick. It means finding your strength and not wallowing in self pity.
  • Independence doesn’t mean not caring what people are saying about you. It’s calling them to the mat and telling them to stop.
  • Independence doesn’t mean taking on tons of work. It means learning to say no.
  • Independence doesn’t mean having lots of friends. It means figuring out what type of people you should be surrounded by and then doing just that.
  • Independence doesn’t mean not being on medication. It means understanding the importance behind them and taking them responsibly.
  • Independence doesn’t mean doing whatever you want. It means prioritizing and making important decisions that will affect the rest of your life.
  • And lastly, Independence means to be proud of yourself and what you’ve been through instead of ashamed of your past mistakes and the struggles of life.

What does independence mean to you? Tell us in the comments below.

 This Post Was Originally Posted on Defying Shadows. Check it out here!

My Weekly Devotional [ReBlogged]

This post was published a year ago today over at Defying Shadows. After rereading it, I just had to reshare it!

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Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 (NKJV)

 I have sat down to write this blog post many times over the past few weeks. The words have been so hard to write, and that’s not something I usually struggle with. But this is different. This verse is so powerful and as I read it there are so many things that jump into my mind.

“My Peace I give to you.”

God is giving us the peace that He experiences. What an Amazing Gift! But what is the peace that God has. Philippians 4:7 says “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” NKJV. Maybe that’s why this was so hard to write about. Trying to explain what peace of God is like is… well, impossible. It surpasses all our understandings of what peace may be. But God gives us that peace.

“Not as the world gives do I give to you.”

This got me thinking about what I know to be peace. Peace for me is being free of worry or anxiety. Free from stress and conflict. Peace is a hot cup of coffee and a good book. But the true moments of peace that I have felt where kneeling before the cross, praying and worshiping my Lord and Saviour. The world cannot give me that peace. Only God can give me that peace.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

This is so much easier said then done. My heart can become troubled daily if I am not careful. Worry and anxiety can fill my body and I become nothing more than a pile of fear. But with the peace that God gives me, all those things fade away. And all it takes is a deep breath, a bowed head and three humbling words, “Lord, help me.”

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 (NKJV)

I am so thankful for the gift of peace that God has given me. Life would not be the same without it. Today take a chance to sit in the silence and pray. Worship God and give yourself to Him. Ask God to give you His peace. And let me know how it goes in the comments below.

Love,

Nichole

My Weekly Devotional

The last two weeks have flown by… If you’ve been following the blog, you might have realized that I missed my devotional post last week. I could lay out a ton of excuses including being sick, but when it comes down to it, the truth is I was busy… So I didn’t make the time.

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As I pondered what this week’s devotional might be I thought about what God has taught me in the last few weeks. That’s when I realized… God hadn’t taught me anything lately… When I thought about why, it became abundantly clear. It was because I got caught up in my busy-ness. As soon as I took a few minutes to focus on Him and listen, I heard Him loud and clear.

Be Still and Know that I AM God.

Be Still?? Does God know how busy I am? I’ve got a To-Do list that grows by the minute! Of course God knows that… But here comes the challenge. What if I took time to Be Still? What if I skipped scrolling through Facebook and read my Bible Instead? What if I set aside a couple minutes to type up a blog post? What if… I just sat here and listened. What would God tell me?

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

1 Kings 19: 11-12, NKJV

Here is this week’s worship song… It’s a bit older, but this song has always been one of my favourite songs.

 

 

My Weekly Devotional

In two months, my life will be changing drastically…. I have been in school since Senior Kindergarten… In April I will have completed my college program and I will be transitioning from being a student to a full-time working adult.

As excited as I am, there is a lot of fear of the unknown; there are many unanswered factors. What am I going to do? Where will I work? Will I be making enough money to get a car… a place of my own? So many things to think about.

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With all these things on my mind, it is easy to get caught up in the fear of it all. But then I remember that God has all those answers, and as long as I live in accordance to what He has in store for me, my life will be pretty awesome.

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” ~ Isaiah 41:13

“You split the sea, so I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me, so I could stand and sing
I am a child of God”

 

Dear Future Partner…

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Dear Future Partner,

If you’re reading this, I am hoping you already know about my Bipolar Disorder. Although this disorder does not define who I am, it is a very big part of my life and will be something that I have to manage for years to come. Here’s what I would want you to know about being with someone with Bipolar Disorder …

  1. If you don’t understand something, or your curious about how my disorder will affect me, you or our relationship, please ask. Talking about it doesn’t make it happen again. Talking about depression won’t make me depressed. Talking about self-harm won’t make me cut myself. Talking about suicidal thoughts won’t make me feel suicidal. Don’t think avoiding the topic is for our own good.
  2. I’ve been living with my depression, my anxiety and my Bipolar Disorder for a long time now… I know it’s hard to hear about these things and want to magically fix them, but I need you to know that trying to fix it often times does more harm than good. Just try to be supportive and patient.
  3. Sometimes I cannot put my feelings and emotions into words. Sometimes I won’t know what is wrong, but I will know something is. I understand how confusing that will be for you. Please try to understand that it is just as confusing for me.
  4. When I look for a partner, I look for someone who isn’t afraid to speak their own mind. I need someone who will call me out on my behaviour if it’s not in check. I need someone who isn’t afraid to make sure that I am following my recovery plan. I need a partner who will hold me accountable.
  5. Know that my disorder does not make me weak. I am an independent individual who can do things on my own. Some days it’s harder than others, but know that no matter how many times I fall, I will always climb back up. I am determined to live a full and successful life. I won’t give up, so please don’t give up on me.

Lastly, but most importantly…. All these things that you can do to help me are also things I will do to help support you. Relationships are a two way street, and I am just as willing to be patient, supportive and committed as you are.

I look forward to meeting you one day…

Love,

Nichole

 

A Letter To Myself on The Day of Diagnosis

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Dear Nichole,

I know right now everything is kinda foggy… The combination of medications you’ve been on for the past few months has done a number on you, but it’s finally going to change. That lady there who’s talking, shes the one who’s going to help you finally make sense of what is going on. She’s going to help you and your family make some serious changes in your life. It’s not going to happen over night, and it won’t be easy, but it’ll all be worth it.

That lady – kneeling down in front of you, speaking very slowly… She’s saying something super important. “This is not your fault.” The circumstance that you are in at this moment is not your fault. This undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder you’ve been living with all these years… That’s not your fault either. These five letter words are going to help you through these next few years. You’ll have it written on a sticky note above your desk to help you through the tough days years later. Try to believe this truth so you can heal.

The next three months will be hard. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Detox sucks. You’re not going to remember much of what happened or what is happening. Some of it will come back to you as your brain heals… Some of it wont. Try not to dwell on that.. Believe me, it doesn’t get you anywhere.

Get your sleep. Don’t underestimate how important your sleep is to you. If you’re having trouble sleeping, consult your doctor immediately so you can ensure a speedy recovery. Take your medication every day… No matter what. If you think your medication is too high or two low, share those concerns but do not make the changes on your own.

One last thing… There’s a life lesson that you’re going to need to learn before you can become strong again. Forgiveness. You need to let go of the anger, the hurt or the frustration with others, with God and with yourself. Once you can let go of all that negative stuff, you will find that you can live a full and successful life.

Be strong. Be brave. And no matter what… Don’t give up. You’re going to do great.

Love,

Your Future Self.

 

My Weekly Devotion

For the past month, one thing has become clear; God wants more from me. It started with a Sunday morning church service where the Pastor shared Gods word on Stewardship. It’s a great series and you can check it out here.

Throughout this sermon series, the pastor has used a quote by DL Moody.

“Whatcha Gonna Do With What You Got?”

This really started the thinking process for me… What do I do currently for God? What do I have that I can give to God? What am I going to do for his glory?

With these thoughts swirling through my mind, I walked into a Career Adult meeting at the Church on Monday evening.

We were challenged to begin thinking about living in the Now. We were asked some of the following questions. I challenge you to ask yourself these same questions.

  1. What are some of the goals that you have right now?
  2. Do you have any regrets of 2015?
  3. What needs to change for you to do what God wants you to do with your life?
  4. If you knew you had a limited amount of time to live, what would you do?
  5. What is one change I can make in my life to ensure I am making my love for Jesus my #1 Priority?

The process hasn’t been easy so far, but I’ve been making some changes in my every day life. Less Netflix; more reading. Less Facebook, Pinterest and other online distractions; more Bible Study. Less pop and rap music; more worship.

These are only a few of the changes I have decided to make in my life, but let me tell you, the rewards are bountiful.

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So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

The Card

The Mighty asked its contributors to write about a card or letter give to us that meant a lot to us. As I read the proposal, one specific card came to mind.

Over the years, I received many different cards from family and friends; birthday cards, Christmas cards, and your occasional random “thinking of you” card. They’re always very sweet and appreciated. However, (and I don’t know about you), but after a few months of them sitting on my desk or shelf, I clear the slate per say, and where the cards end up is not usually somewhere retrievable. If that upsets you… I am sorry.

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There was one birthday card in particular that I have saved for several years. There wasn’t really anything all that special about the card itself. It had a sweet message and a cute illustration, but none of that really mattered. It was who it was from.

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In the top left hand corner of the card read a note written in my Meema’s (grandma) hand-writing that said, “P.S. Papa picked out this card for you!”

When I read that little note, my heart soared. It made me so happy that my Papa would pick out such a sweet card for me. It made me feel so loved, cherished and special.

My grandpa and I have always had that special bond… Whether he realizes it or not. Every time he sees me, he gives me a hug, asks me how I am doing and tells me he loves me. My grandpa knows a ton about computers and I love hearing stories as well as new information that I might have missed over the years. As I got older, I learned to appreciate these moments even more and look forward to learning something every time I see him.

It’s been years since I received this card. A ton has happened and changed over the years. I have moved three times since then and the card has come with me each step of the way. It has always hung on my bulletin board in my bedroom and I read it regularly.

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Thank you Papa for picking out such a sweet card and loving me so much. You mean the world to me, and I love you too.

Love,

Nichole

My Weekly Devotional

I made a goal for 2016 to start writing more. To achieve this goal, I have decided to attempt to write a post each week that will include where my thoughts are for the week, a scripture verse, and a worship or praise song.

So here’s this weeks…

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Where did January go??

I woke up yesterday morning to discover that it was February. I was shocked! The first month of 2016 flew by and I didn’t even notice!

It was a pretty successful and productive month, but it’s gone just the same. I have eleven months to accomplish everything I had planned for the year. So I sat down. I made a plan. Now I just have to stick with it.

The past few years have not been easy. But this year I decided to reclaim my life and rededicate it to the Lord. I am so thankful that I do not have to fight this battle on my own. In fact, I don’t have to fight it at all, because God has already won. Check out these verses!

“Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15

 

 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord … Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:17

This Weeks Worship:

I heard this song on the way to College one morning and I fell in love with it. These words resonate in my soul.

“The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
Lives in us, lives in us
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea
Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us”

So with God fighting my battles for me and the Holy Spirit leading me, I am ready for whatever this week throws at me – no matter what it looks like.

New Years Resolutions {2016 Edition}

I have a confession to make… I have never really seen the point in making New Years Resolutions. It always seemed like a waste of time. But this year will be the year of major changes (no longer a student and now a full-time business owner) so I thought I would give it a try. So here are my top ten “goals” for 2016.

  1. Finish College. I never thought I would make it this far. Due to my mental illness, school has always been a struggle in some way or another. A year ago I started down the endeavor to complete a Business Marketing program and in four short months, this journey will be complete (Lord, willing!).
  2. Write More Often. I have always enjoyed writing. I always wanted to have a blog where I could write inspirational posts and share encouragement through my writing. Defying Shadows is nearing two years of existence and this year I am hoping to write much more often.
  3. Growing My Business. I run a small Social Media Marketing company called AIM Social Media Marketing (shameless plug..). With only four months of school left, I plan to put all my spare time into making a real go at being a business owner!
  4. Read More. I remember being in grade school and even the first two years of high school and reading constantly. I would stay up till the wee hours of the morning promising myself just one more chapter and then I would sleep. It has honestly been forever since I read a book and I miss it. I plan to make this part of my daily routine this year.
  5. Exercise More Often. I know how clique this is and I almost didn’t put this down but I made a compromise. I didn’t want to put down a value of weight to lose, so I thought about what might make me feel better about myself. I decided exercising would do that for me.
  6. Be Debt Free. From the time I was a young girl, my parents were always driving down the importance of being debt free and financially sound. With College Loans lurking in the unknown of the second half of my year, I decided this is something I would really want to accomplish. How great would it be to walk into 2017 debt free?!
  7. Be Published in more places than 1. This past year I have been published several times on The Mighty. I loved seeing my work helping people outside of my normal reach, and I decided that this year I will aim to continue down this path!
  8. Finish the last 11 (unread) books of the Bible. Back in 2011-2012, I was in Bible College and made myself a promise to read the Bible in its entirety. But not just a quick read. I wanted to study every book of the Bible. Although I have my regular devotions and Bible reading, this goal hasn’t been worked on in quite a while. I cannot wait to see what else I discover as I go down this path.
  9. Volunteer Somewhere Weekly. I used to volunteer all the time at church, in the community, and even at school. Life got away from me these past few years and this hasn’t been a priority. I need to change this and I want to give back in 2016.
  10. Join a Community Group or Class. Being out of school and working from home really doesn’t open much opportunity to mingle and meet new people. Who knows, maybe I will learn a new language, play a sport or find a new hobby!

What are your New Years Resolutions for 2016? I would love to hear them in the comments!