An update.

Six months since I’ve written. What can I say about that time?

I finished my first semester of seminary school.
I was in Death Valley for three months.
I started my second semester of seminary school.

That about sums it up. Chronologically and factually.

What about emotionally? Oh, I’d say it has been a roller-coaster. More like a kid’s roller-coaster. You know, the kinds that just slightly has it’s ups and downs, nothing major. Still a roller-coaster though. Death Valley was a dark place emotionally. I felt lonely and separate from everything. Most of the time I kept my emotions in check. It was hard work. I’m lucky that I was able to mostly keep it together.

Now I’m going into this second semester of seminary. I’m feeling mostly good. It feels amazing to be back home. After my summer experience, it really feels like a huge blessing to be where I am right now. I have the stress of school. I have the stress because of my current weight. My body doesn’t feel well. My mental health is suffering as a result. I have to put in the hard work for my body. But at the same time I have to put in the hard work of school. It’s already a month into school, and I haven’t quite gotten into the rhythm of anything. I better step up fast.

My prayers are just that I can keep myself together emotionally and do what needs to be done. And there is a lot to be done!

Brazil

Got back from Brazil this week. Our church does a short term mission trip there every year. It was my first year to go and it was incredible. I’m still trying to process everything.

It was so cool to see how God answered prayers while we were there. We even got to see some of the fruits of our work while we were there. There were some rough times for me personally but overall it was just wonderful and I can’t wait to go back next year.

I might write something more detailed about the trip at some point in the future. I’ll have to plan it out.

School Has Started

Seminary school started two weeks ago. I’ve been busy. So many events to go to, so many new people to meet, so many new things to read! Plus I volunteer at church, and I have to work. And take care of my mental health. It’s a lot! How does God fit into the picture?

A common problem with studying theology is that it tends to focus too much on the knowledge and not nearly enough on the spiritual learning. I’m beginning to see how that’s entirely possible. At the same time, I’m encouraged by my professors. I’m taking two classes on campus, and both classes begin with prayer to focus ourselves on why we’re there in the first place. For my online courses, the professors are always bringing in the spiritual piece to the conversation. Back on campus, we have chapel, where we have a speaker give a talk on spiritual matters. It’s encouraging to be at a place like this.

This week I have started to get scared. I have a lot of work to do over the weekend. But I also have other commitments. I’m worried about how I’ll get everything done. I had a bit of a breakdown at work this morning and had to go home. Then I slept for literally half the day.  This only adds to my worries. But I’m going to be strong and confident. I’ll get through this. I’ll work diligently at doing what I can, chip away, and study at every moment I have.

What I’m learning most is that God is good. School’s tough. It’s busy. It’s stressful. But I’m hopeful. I’m learning so much. And I’m encouraged by everything I read and hear. A thing here or there strike me differently and get me thinking but it’s a good sign. I’m excited for all that this semester will bring!

 

Normal Anxieties

Remember how I was excited about getting back to my goals? Well, I ended up catching a cold. Coughing, sneezy, runny nose, body aches. So much for watching my diet and exercising. Haven’t eaten much. Haven’t moved much. Pretty much sucks. This kind of sick just has to run its course. It better hurry up, because I’ve got stuff to do!

One week until I start seminary school. Later this week is orientation. I’m super excited to get started already! I’m ready to learn! I’m also getting nervous. What if it’s too hard? What if I can’t keep up? What if I fail? These are normal anxieties. A lot of people feel this way when they step up to something big. But that’s why they’re big dreams. Not everyone has the courage, will, and determination to do it. So here I am, making my attempt, answering the call. And I will be successful. It’s a path that I’m ready to take on. Each step will lead me to bigger and bright things in the future.

 

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.”
(Psalm 67:1–2)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
(Isaiah 60:1)

I can do this

The thing about mental health is simply that it effects your mind. The chemicals in your brain have become unregulated making it difficult to think straight. With bipolar whether your thoughts are good or bad, it’s amplified. When your surroundings are good, you feel ecstatic beyond reason. You’re energetic, electric, and love being alive. You’re so optimistic you feel on top of the world. When something so slight makes you worry, it sends you into panic, unable to breath, heart racing, doom encircling you. And then you get sad, and the world crashes around you. You can’t get out of bed. You can’t take a shower. You can’t eat or sleep. You think and feel things that aren’t real. All the while shadows following you. Voices trying to get your attention.

I started getting better. I’ve been exercising. I’ve been getting sleep. I’ve been using my coping skills to get me through tough moments. Really, I’ve been doing well. I thought so anyway. Just when I think things are going great with my health, I forget a dose of medicines, and BAM. I’m back to being a mental mess. I really thought I was doing well, until I wasn’t. It wasn’t even just the missing dose of medicines. It’s been gradual. I’ve let my guard down to my illness.

I resolve to contain this. I won’t let myself spiral out of control. I can do this. The best thing that I can do right now is to grant myself grace.

 

Update Kind Of.

Tri training has been going well. I’ve hit all my goals so far. The initial goal was to stick to the schedule as planned. And I have accomplished that. It feels pretty darn good. Next week will also be about hitting the same goal of sticking to the schedule. After these two weeks I can think about bumping up my level of effort within the extra workouts. My knees are already feeling tight, so I may not want to push them too hard. I wouldn’t want to have to quit because of an injury.

My mood lately is best described as irritable. I keep snapping at people in my family. I have a harder time keeping my mental balance. My patience is thin. I get irritated and annoyed too easily. The reason for this could be a few different things. One, it could be because of the extra exercise. It could be a symptom of a bipolar hypomania, or it could be a symptom of depression. I talked some things over with my counselor earlier this week. She added up some other symptoms I’ve been having. She came to the conclusion that it sounds like a depression coming on. So I have to fight that now.

How do I fight this depression? Exercise is supposed to help. I’m doing that. I’ve been making my appointment and activity commitments even when I don’t want to. I need to start eating and sleeping regularly. I have to keep writing. I have to change my thought patterns. Which would require me to read my book and work on some exercises.

Overall though I’m feeling pretty hopeful. That’s a good feeling. I’m still excited about tri training. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and something that I’ve always wanted to try to be good at. Also though, I want to get back to climbing. So I have no idea how I’m going to have time to go climbing on top of tri training and CrossFit. I wish that I had all the time in the world to go from one activity to the other and still do all of my extra curricular activities.

My Fitness Story

I played a lot of sports when I was a kid. Even in high school I tried playing some things. Mostly I had given up on trying.

In college somehow I decided to start working out at the gym across my dorm. I did really well. Lost some weight. But by second semester my enthusiasm was gone. I hated how I looked. So I gave up. I let myself go completely. I was in horrible health. For another 6 or 7 years I struggled with my weight.

My first job out of college had a gym before you leave the office. So I stopped by every day on my way out to do a light workout. Soon I was able to join the lunch time crew who worked out way better than I could ever have done on my own. And then I started Kung fu. And life was amazing. I felt great. I was fit. I had to buy new clothes. It was pretty cool.

Fast forward a couple of years. I end up in Fort Worth with my parents and with no job. So I found a Muay Thai gym. Earlier when I thought I was fit, I was delusional. Kicking, punching, elbowing, kneeing… and then CrossFit on top of that. Then I can safely say that I was fit. And that I looked like I was fit. But in my own skin I couldn’t see it. I still felt like I was heavy.

New job prevented me from working out so much. This has been the theme for the last five years. Every year I put on more weight. Sure, I do things every now and then, but I’m not fit, and I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been.

So. With all of that running through my past. I joined a CrossFit gym. I’ve been going since August. Five days a week. I haven’t seen a weight change because of my medicine, but I know that I’m getting fitter! All the people are awesome. Every day is different but it’s always challenging. I finally feel like I can actually reach my goals this time and sustain them.