One dream postponed = another fulfilled! Part 17 of my Journey

Standard

Hey all! I’m back again and I feel that instead of talking about current life, I should go right on and head into the continuation of my journey. Now, I left off at the end of my fall semester of 2016 which lead into Christmas break. Honestly, this semester was one of the most trying ones I had experienced. My health was in shambles, I had trouble walking more than a mile at a time without having aggravated nerve issues, and one thing I didn’t mention in my last post (probably the most horrific issue of them all) was my coming home after my physiology midterm to find blood all over my appartment. I looked around in terror to find out what it was to find that it was my mom’s cat!!! We had had issues with her acting listless and had taken her to the vet who told us she had a small rodent bone in her stomach, gave her meds to help her pass it, and sent her home. The problem is… she had an abscess growing in her tail because of some unknown trauma that lead to an infection we didn’t know she had. The abscess was what was making her sick and when I came home to blood all over the place I was beyond angry and mortified! Thankfully, we got her into an emergency care (at a different vet) and the vets there went above and beyond to help us apply for emergency pet support to help us afford to have her tail amputated and saved her life.

When Christmas break came… I faced it with a sense of relief that classes were over and a sense of terror that I might have to endure another break in severe physical pain. I worked as much as I could (considering my pain situation). I actually had been promoted towards the end of the fall 2016 semester, so I was learning a new position with lots of new stressors. Then… the Spring 2017 semester came at me with nearly a full load and again… no exercise or theatre as an outlet. Now, Part 17 of my journey begins!

Spring 2017 semester came at me with nearly a full load! I had Speech, Critical thinking through literature, and government of the United States (Political Science). My course load along with a new position as a Customer Service Rep/ Cashier Supervisor seemed like a great idea at first, buuutttt I found that by the time I would get off work I would have a hard time focusing on my studies. At this point, my body was struggling to get over 106 pounds. I was eating probably around 1700 cal to 1800 cal a day which was not enough to be trying to gain weight AND I was still pretty restrictive with what I was eating. As pressures from classes mounted, midterms approached, and pressure at work increased, I found myself spending my days at home, in bed, in pain, while studying through my chaotic home life and my days at work and school, struggling to make it through each day. On top of it, I had to constantly push aside my battles with PTSD which (at the time) would make chaotic situations seem like they were 3X as bad as they were putting me on edge… I was completely miserable. One morning, as I was eating breakfast about a week before my midterm paper for Poly Sci was due… I felt what seemed like pressure that felt almost like hands push through from my upper back, around on each side towards the front of my chest, and then squeezed my heart! I told my mom what was happening and tried to gather my strength as I clenched my chest. I got up to put my cereal bowl in the sink and… I felt my legs buckle beneath me. My mom rushed me to the ER. There, I weighed just over 106 pounds. No one made mention of the fact I was still under weight, and they shrugged it off like I was just dealing with too much stress. Funny, because I’ve had just as stressful situations more recently and have not had the same pain. Anyhow, as a result of the pain, the doctor advised that I do what I can to avoid stressful situations which meant dropping political science and postponing my transfer to California East Bay. At first, I was so ashamed, I felt like I totally failed! I was going to receive a W as a result of dropping this class. The professor refused to withdraw it despite my medical circumstances. I was completely shattered! My transcripts were tainted and I wasn’t going to transfer in time! At the same time, shortly after I dropped the class, I felt a huge amount of weight being lifted from my shoulders! Political science class was so full of information, and between that and all the reading I had to do for my critical thinking through literature class, all the pressure had me literally laying in bed every free moment that I had. That was no way to live! As a result, I had more downtime, less stress, and I started pushing myself to try to take mini 1/2 mile- 1 mile walks when I would stop at the store between my house and the school. Though it was painful most times, I still did what I could to try to press through.

Meanwhile, I found a new haven in public speaking! All the skills I learned in acting, I got to apply in this class! Also, since I had already been public speaking prior to this course, I was able to use the tools that I acquired while taking the class to help improve my speech writing as well as delivery! What a blessing!!!

Now, as far as my weight goes, one of the chiropractors at the chiropractic chain that I was going to kept nudging me to gain weight! He just wouldn’t let it go! He was like that annoying voice in the back my head constantly telling me I was too frail and thin, but my stubborn mind wouldn’t wrap around it. Finally, after reading a blog post from a well known blogger that goes by “Drops of Jewels” and is also known as “Lord Still Loves Me Julia” made a post about something known as the Minni Maud method. Immediately went to search out what this method was about! In doing so, I found out that according to the method and according to your weight, you are to gradually increase your caloric intake to anywhere from 2,500- 3,000 + calories a day. The person in recovery is not to be restrictive whatsoever. This means candy, ice cream, pizza, cake… yup! Eat it all!

I read about her experience and I continued to study up on the method. I knew I had to do it! I gradually began to increase my calories, and one night as I was getting ready to talk to a friend of mine on the phone, my neighbor offered to purchase my family a pizza. I quickly went and hid in my room and avoided it. Yes, for all of those who’ve been following my blog, I do have gluten allergies. At the same time, my spirit wanted so badly to be free, even for a moment, even if it made my stomach hurt, I just. wanted. freedom! Meanwhile, the eating disorder trapped me in fear! I had a beautiful conversation with my friend, who encouraged me to just do what my gut was telling me and to enjoy the time with my family. I then went and enjoyed not just one piece, but two pieces of pizza along with a big slice of Oreo cheesecake for dinner! On top of it, the excitement from the freedom must’ve totally phased out the side effects of the gluten because I had no stomach issues! That night triggered a whole slew of what I call “freedom eating.“ each and every day I made it my goal to try to increase my calories to a point where I finally was eating 3,000 calories each day. Things like pancakes on my nephews birthday, bagels and cream cheese, Frappuccinos from Starbucks, you name it, I was eating it!

Thennnn severe stomach issues mixed with brain fog, headaches, and inability to focus started to set in which are all symptoms of gluten intolerance. I had to quickly re-think what I was putting into my body and try to find ways to work around the various allergies/ sensitivities in order to get my calories in. Finally, I reached my Doctor’s goal weight of 110, but that didn’t quite feel like enough. I kept on going to a point where I finally felt that it was OK to stop eating the excess and get ready to go into maintenance mode.

As all of this was happening, I was still attending classes and working. I continued to find release in my speech class, and fell in love with my literature course. You see, in speech I found A new level of structure and confidence in my speeches. I was also invited to take part in our school’s annual speech contest for extra credit. There, I got to compete in the dramatic interpretation section (which is pretty much like performing a monologue) and won first place! Along with this came the invitation from my professor and the speech team to join the speech and debate team for the following semester! As far as my literature course went, we were given several texts to read which we were to dissect and pull out any symbolism and possible hidden messages that the author may have left for the readers to pick up. In other words, we had to figure out what the author was saying between lines. We also learned how to compare and contrast different texts and find common hidden meanings in texts that, unless looked at closely, would appear to be completely different. It was absolutely thrilling to find out that I could not only apply this in my every day reading, but I could also apply it in my biblical reading. On top of it, there was an incredible book called The Citizen in which the author speaks from the perspective of an African-American in her daily life. It looked directly through her eyes into the circumstances involving prejudice and straight up ignorance that she and countless others have experienced. That, along with the studies that I did just prior to my dropping political science in regards to the Civil War, I was appalled at the human race and the amount of prejudice that exists even in today’s society! The hatred that this nation has carried since its roots… all I can say is that this semester definitely had a profound impact on my knowledge of racism and the need to cut it up from the roots immediately! Until then, I had no idea how bad everything truly was. I was raised to see people as people. I learned about segregation and prejudice in elementary and High school, but when this semester’s studies set in, the blinders were fully taking off my eyes, and I realized how much hatred humanity has had for one another for ages! It was heartbreaking!

Nowww back to the health issues. My doctor had put in a referral to a new physical therapist. Now, I know physical therapists mean well and they are very well educated, however; for my situation… this form of physical therapy just was not good. My situation requires chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy (psoas release so I can do core and strength training pain free again) and someone to guide me through proper core and balance work. (Due to severe imbalances). The physical therapist gave me muscle energy techniques that are pretty much self adjustments that realign my hips, pelvis and spine (which I have been given time and time again) only to find they didn’t quite do the trick. They also gave me strength training exercises to help strengthen the “week“ muscles. The problem is, no one would listen to me when I would tell them that I had psoas issues and that the exercises they gave me were giving me ITB syndrome that flared up if I walked too far. They swore up-and-down that it had to do with my muscles being weak and that I needed to adjust to the exercises, but the more I did them, the worst I got, and I nearly became debilitated again. When this round of physical therapy ended, they referred me to aqua therapy in hopes that I might find some relief their.

As the semester came closer to an end, I continue to try to go for walks and did the best that I could, but my body just kept acting up. Finally, finals rolled around, yes… the Lord gave me victories over my classes with straight A’s again, and it was off to summer break and some hope!

You see, I kept telling a sweet friend of mine that I consider a sister that we need to get serious about our dreams of becoming actors. Toward the end of May, she sent me a link to a casting call for 13 Reasons Why extras that was going to take place on the 4th of June. She commented “said you wanted to get serious.“ She was totally calling me out! On June 4, I got up early, packed some food, she and a friend picked me up, and we headed to the casting call! As we waited in the long line, I looked back and it continued to just grow! As we got closer and closer to the building they were having the casting call in, the line had gotten so long that they decided to create a cut off point and sent everyone behind that point home. They informed them of how they could go online and register to work on set as an extra. For those of us who hung around, we were given business cards and the option to go home and apply online or hang out and wait to be let inside for our group meeting. The three of us were determined to get inside, so we waited. When we got in we got the information we needed, had our pictures taken, I registered my profile online, and off we went to go spend some time at a mall, then went back to my house and celebrated my 34th birthday with my family! What an amazing birthday celebration! Not only did I get to go and make steps towards my dream career, but I got to spend it with some of my nearest and dearest friends including my godmother and her husband!

Every day, I checked for postings to see if they had any work up and as soon as they did, I began to apply! Then, about a week after my first submissions for work, I was going for a walk in an attempt to alleviate some pain and… I RECEIVED A BOOKING REQUEST!!! I automatically responded and confirmed that I could work, called my mom crying tears of joy and headed back to my car! Ok… yeah, I know, some people might think that I’m only a “background actor.“ The fact of the matter is background actors actually play a major role in helping each scene come together. Not only that, but this was something that I had dreamed of doing my whole life! I was SO overjoyed! I tried to carefully read through all of the pre-information that they sent me, and prepared myself as best as I could mentally and physically for my first day on set.

The morning I first set foot at home base, has filled with so much excitement! As I was standing around after check in, I looked over and Dylan Minnete crossed over right in front of me to go get some coffee. Now, of course I binge watched the series so I would know what was going on and how I might need to hold myself in scenes in order to properly contribute. During my binge watch, I was so amazed at how well each actor performed! Seeing Dylan in person was really cool! So cool in fact, that I completely forgot that the pre-information had clearly stated that we are not supposed to go and speak to any of the actors because they are there to work and not be distracted, annnndd like and overly excited little kid, I blurted out, “ oh my gosh! You did an excellent job in the show!” He kindly smiled, and humbly said, “thank you.” At that point I realized exactly what I just done, so I pulled myself back and hoped to God nobody caught me speaking to him. So, if any of you readers out there end up on a set as an extra, just take a little caution to read documents that they send you to make sure that you don’t go crossing any lines! Anyhow, on set, I learned that it’s a lot of sit around and wait. I waited with about 100 or so other people for them to choose the people they needed as background actors for each scene until they decided to choose me. Though season two has already been released and I have posted pictures of myself and the scenes that they captured me in, due to the legal documents that I have signed, I’m not allowed to expose the dates, times, and or locations at which filming was done. What I will say is that and my first day on set was amazing! While waiting, they consistently make sure that we had fruit and snacks to munch on. Unknowingly, I packed a lunch only to find out that they were actually providing lunch FOR us. I kept my lunch set aside just in case due to the food allergies, but little did I know, they were providing a full catered lunch full of options for pretty much everyone! I was thrilled to find that I could easily pick out items that I can eat without having stomach issues. I couldn’t believe this! Here I was, the girl that had been yelled at half my life, always told that I was not allowed to be or do anything that I ever wanted to, the one who was physically and verbally abused for the majority of my life, the one who worked countless jobs that were physically and emotionally taxing, currently works as a supervisor in a place where people completely disrespect my coworkers as well as myself… I mean literally to a point bringing me to tears a few times… and this one day… I walked onto set as an extra, what most people view as the low-end of the totem pole, and it was like being in a totally different universe. Yes, I had to sit around and wait, but hey… it gives me plenty of time to read! Yes, I got hungry, but I didn’t have to wait for my line to go down or the customer to stop yelling in my face before I could step away and take a bite of an apple. I could keep a snack in my pocket and take bites between takes, eat in extras holding, talk to new and interesting people who actually treated me with kindness, watch a Netflix production being made… what in the world just happened to me?

I went back on that evening and the excitement from the day kept me on a total emotional high! This is it! This is what I wanted to do! All the standing around and waiting, walking up and down the street in the background of a shot where probably never got seen, the 12 hour shift, it was all worth it, not only because of the way I was treated, but because I was doing something that aimed towards what I’ve wanted to do since I can remember! For the first time in my life, I was really attempting to reach toward my dream of becoming a professional actor! My whole life, everyone told me what they wanted me to be, and yes, people tried to put me in the “runner box” like I wasn’t allowed to be anything else… At the same time, here I was, for the first moment in my life, and I took what I love to do for fun in community theatre and began to work toward doing it as a career. It was just so freeing!

As the summer kept going, the casting calls kept coming! I worked primarily in the court room scenes and worked in several others as well. During the hours spent on set over the summer, I met so many incredible people! A few of the people, have actually become very dear friends of mine!

Now, as I’ve stated time and time again in this blog, I found that throughout my life God has his reasons for things. I kept questioning why life had to be in such a chaotic mess that I would have to drop my political science course and postpone my transfer to start my classes at California East Bay, but God knew what was up. He knew what he was doing all along! You see, had I started classes at East Bay, I never would have had the time to even attempt to work on set!

As fall classes approached, I face them with gratitude, knowing that this would be my final semester at CCC annnddd… I would, Lord willing, I would get to be working on set a bit more!

Wow… so, this post was super long and I apologize for that y’all! However, I believe that I’ll have one more post after this and I’ll be done! For those of you who have followed me on this journey so far, thank you so, so much! I am so thrilled and excited to be able to share with you all my trials and tribulations and to help remind you that no matter what you were going through, God is there, there is a reason for everything, and don’t you ever lose hope! Until next time, God bless!

Advertisements

One journey ends and another begins. My story continues in part 14

Standard

Hello all! I’m sorry for the long break! For some reason, I’m finding it harder and harder to mentally pull myself back into my journey in order to get the events and timing In the correct order. AnyWho, I left off in my last post where I was barely able to walk, a loved one of mine had just passed away, I started seeing a counselor who helped me focus on Christ and His hope, and after speaking with my neighbor… I decided to focus my energy in getting signed up for classes at Contra Costa College. Now, I’ll continue where I left off! Fare warning before I begin… if you are someone who gets triggered by talking about food, over exercise, calories, weight, etc. I HIGHLY recommend that you do not proceed as I will be discussing some pretty detailed areas of my eating disorder in this blog post!!!

My Journey Part 14

Christ’s hope is the one thing that shines brightest in dark times! I found that to be true during so many dark periods of my life. As I got things in order to sign up for classes, my neighbor gave me a laptop and Internet access so that I would be able to get enrollment and School work done! What a sweetheart! Finally, everything was in place, and I was set to start school in Spring 2015 with an aim to get my degree in Liberal Arts: Math and Science with an emphasis on kinesiology. Yeah, barely able to walk and I wanted to be an exercise science major! My long-term goal was to obtain my bachelors of science at Cal State East Bay in their wellness program that includes nutrition and kinesiology, then transfer to UC Berkeley to obtain my masters and, eventually, my PhD in psychology. My purpose in getting these degrees was so that I could help people who have been abused and those who have been forced into sex/ human trafficking regain their strength psychologically, physically and nutritionally while including biblical foundations for them to build their platform from. As everything was ready for me to go, there was still the waiting period before I started classes. The months before school included Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they were some of the hardest holidays I have ever had to face! For Thanksgiving, I was housesitting and came home to enjoy dinner with my family and godmother. There I was, in so much pain! I sat there and tried so hard enjoy dinner with my family, but all I could think about was that my godmother got to race that morning and I was trapped like a prisoner pacing back-and-forth in my apartment and in the house that I was housesitting at the time. It was the only way that I could get any form of physical exercise without my body completely acting up on me. I missed the race field, I missed the people, the energy, the food, the social life connected to it all. I felt like a huge part of me died! It was like a part of my family had been ripped away! That’s something I still mourn to this day! On the up side, I used the time of pacing as my declaration time where I would memorize scripture and declare the promises of God over my life.

Anyhow, Still terrified to really eat anything solid, all I allowed myself to eat that day was a mountain of steamed vegetables, some turkey, and some fat free- sugar free pumpkin flan. The eating disorder was taking over my life at this point. I began this ritual of eating two apples for breakfast with two egg whites or half cup of nonfat cottage cheese. I would have snack of non-fat, sugar free Greek yogurt. Lunch would usually consist of just veggies and egg whites or a can of sardines. Sometimes I would have an occasional piece of turkey or some tuna or other fish. Dinner would usually be the same. I began stuffing myself with mini bell peppers and veggies until I would nearly pop. It’s as if I was panicked that I wouldn’t see another meal, I would just eat until I couldn’t eat anymore. At the same time, I still wasn’t getting enough calories in. The only source of healthy fats that I would take in were from the sardines that I would eat every other day.

As Christmas time rolled around, I prepared to do my first acting performance at Hilltop Community Church for their Christmas production! In this, I played a black Friday shopper! Being involved in this production was a total emotional lifesaver for me! The rehearsals, the performances, they were all moments of escape for me from my daily life and the struggles I faced. Meanwhile, I got to be a blessing to the community by helping to spread the story of Jesus Christ.

I mean… think about it, every day was a struggle! Having hard time walking, barely able to afford to feed myself, going to the $.99 store to stock up on the only things I could really afford and was willing to eat which were veggies, egg whites and sardines, stuffing myself into an oblivion every time we had food because I wasn’t sure if we were going to have enough, I was an emotional wreck!

Finally, once the emotional roller coaster of the holidays was over and the show had finished, I started to see a physical therapist and the switch from chiropractic to new therapy placed me in a position where I was in bed for three days and unable to walk. I iced as best as I could. I did as many stretches as I possibly could. I prayed, I cried out to God! I remember sitting down in chairs and standing up only to have my low back and sacrum literally pop right out of place… trying to walk in the parking lot of the grocery store or even through grocery store and my hip and groin area would lock up. I had to shuffle carefully everywhere I went! It was a nightmare! I continue to press on, and prayed my way through as I knew that classes were starting shortly.

The Sunday prior to my first day at school, I made sure I went to church despite the pain. I filled up on as much biblical truth as I possibly could by fellowshipping with my beloved purple book Bible study class and attending the Sunday service. That week, on January 12, 2015, I stepped onto the campus of Contra Costa College in faith. I shuffled my way through each appointment with EOPS and my counselor, shuffle from class to class, and finally made it successfully through my day! There I was, with a full 12 unit schedule that included Theatre Appreciation, Education For Healthful Living, Intermediate Algebra, and Beginning Fitness Center (so I could do core and balance work to regain my strength). I plowed myself right away into studies! This time, I was determined to not fail!

A few weeks into the semester, my theater teacher had caught wind from one of my former theatre professors that I was “one of the drama kids.” She quickly invited me to audition for the Spring show, “All in the Timing” which is a compilation of several short plays. Each actor would take on several different characters. At first, I was almost bitter that my professor would want to add more to my plate! I was already having a hard enough time walking around campus let alone getting my studies done through the chaos at home (my nephew was still dealing with temperamental issues and screamed A LOT). The thing is, I felt that art bug just tug and tug at my heart, so I took the dive! Thankfully, I was cast originally for 4 different characters and ended up doing 3 due to one of the plays being cut from the show. It’s amazing how God uses people to really help pull you into a direction that will help you find who you are created to be! Doing the production meant that I literally spent nearly every week day on campus from about 8:30 in the morning till almost 10 or 11 o’clock at night.

This time kept me focused on my studies, helped me get away from the chaos at home, and really helped me just heal emotionally giving me something good and hopeful to focus on! I continued to juggle classes, counseling appointments, doctor appointments, physical therapy, homework, family life and I still have no idea how in the world I managed to push through! Being a part of that production was such a blessing because it brought back several people who have become very much like family to me during some of the very darkest parts of my life! It also brought new people into that family! Just like running, there’s something about the performing arts that just really brings people together! It’s just so healing!

As the show was beginning to come to an end, the money that I had received from grants had run out, and as a college student, unless you’re working 20 hours a week, the government will not provide food stamps. So, I was facing some serious financial difficulties! Mom and I had no gas money and we barely had anything to eat. As a result, I started looking for work. The production went on, and it was such a wonderful show! I was so proud of all my fellow cast members and how well they had transitioned from character to character!

On top of it, I was exhilarated by having my acting skills challenged and built through my character transitions as well! What an exciting show!

One day, as I walked out on campus, I looked over at the school newspaper stand and… there I was!? Me? On the cover of the school newspaper? What a blessing! I was so humble yet excited at the same time!

The high from all the show excitement went down, spring break approached, and I began hard-core searching for a job! Finally, I landed a job at Kmart and I slowly started seeing my life come together! With hopes of getting promoted and working my way up to management, school going in a hopeful direction, progress in physical therapy to point where I was actually running on a treadmill at some points again, I was eating better well rounded meals again… hope helped me stay focused on moving forward and not the pain that tried to distract me from my school work each day. I’m talking pain when I stood up, pain when I sat down, pain when I walked, pain when I did anything. It was the hope that Christ placed my heart (and learning to take on campus naps lol) that helped me stay focused! Mind you, there were times I found myself crying in the bathroom during finals from the mental and emotional exhaustion mixed with the pain.

Finally the semester had come to an end. There had been a several week break between switching physical therapists and the stress from everything had taken its toll on my body. On top of it, I didn’t realize that my summer class was an early start, that meant I only had ONE week between the end of my spring semester and the beginning of my summer. I went to see my new physical therapist for the first time that week she informed me that she was going to have to completely take exercise from me for a while. Back in prison! The new diagnosis and form of therapy technique that she introduced landed me in bed for another three days. It’s as though every time my body had to adjust to a new way of healing, it would go into a bed ridden state. There I was, just finished with finals and all the craziness only to end up back where I started! I wept hysterically! Again… anorexia beckoned. I cried out to God and told him that I needed a sign to help me move forward! I needed to know I was going in the right direction!

The first day of my summer class, my mom dropped me off in front of the biology building and I carefully shuffle my way into the lab with a special foam roller for me to sit on, terrified of everyone and everything that I was about to face. Now, I was always told to never take a MATH class during the summer due to the amount of content that you have to cover in such a short period time. Little did I know, biology was just the same! Upon arriving, I was handed my course syllabus and was faced with a quiz every single day of the first week, three chapters of reading, our first of three major exams was after the first week and a half and a lab nearly every day! All of our labs had to be typed up! To add to the pressure, I was informed that the professor that I was working under was one of the hardest professors to get a passing grade from let alone an A. My gut sank, and I automatically felt like I was in prison! Finally, After several hours of class, we were released and I carefully walked down towards the transfer center where I checked my email and prepared to meet my mom. There, I received the greatest news and the sign that I had asked God for! Apparently, my grades from the previous semester had come in, and I had not only receive straight A’s, but I was also on the Dean’s list!!! I screamed out loud in the middle of the transfer center and began to cry! ME? The kid who could barely pass anything in elementary, middle and high school? The one who knew the “isolation table” in elementary school allll too well! The one who could barely walk during various points of the semester? The who was just trying to get their life back together? The one who had such a hard time focusing due to the pain that I was in half the time? I WAS ON THE DEAN’S LIST? That was totally by the grace of God! I took the energy and exhilaration from this and used it to help propel me through the rest of the summer semester.

Due to my courseload and pain issues during this time, I had to cut my workdays at Kmart to one day a week. Thankfully, I was asked to do a few housesits which gave me the ability to make money, some friendly critters to keep me company and quiet places for me to do my schoolwork!

Each day, I looked forward to seeing my classmates, two of whom I ended up being very close with as we formed a study group. I loved learning about the different ways that humans, plants, and animals are made! I loved learning about the ecosystems, photosynthesis and cellular respiration and so many more facets of basic biology!

To keep it short, my semester went like this… four days a week, I would go to school about 8 AM and class would be finished around 1 PM. Would usually take about a half hour to an hour break, then head straight back into the homework box to finish my labs, homework and study for any test, quizzes, and/ or exams that we had. One by one each quiz was tackled, each exam finished, each homework assignment completed, and each lab typed to near perfection!

(I found sooo much joy learning about basic biology)

A quarter of the way end of the semester, the computer that I was gifted fell off the bathroom counter and onto the floor. It was already having issues running and kept glitching but this made it worse! Thankfully, my grant money came in just before it actually crashed and I was able to get a tablet to finish the remainder of my coursework on. During the semester there were two field trips. The first one, I did get to attend, but it was also a very bittersweet moment for me. The location was at regional park that I spent countless hours training for races at. There I was, given walking sticks by my professor to help me along the journey, and I was about to walk into the very park that I used to spend hours upon hours pouring my heart out to God as I trained. Upon my arrival, I ran into somebody who used to see me running all the time. I was given a moment to briefly speak to her and then we headed as a class into the park as I swallowed back my tears. Halfway into the field trip, my professor decided to have me take the lead and show them around a bit. By the power of God I was able to help the class maneuver around on some of the trails, passed where at the Monarch butterflies hang around during butterfly season, and made our way back out to the parking lot. I felt alive again! In total, we covered about 4 miles of land! This is farther than I had walked in a long, long time! Afterward, as I went on to eat lunch with one of my lab partners and another class mate… The locking in my sacrum began again!

That week, I went and saw my physical therapist and we started from the ground up again which meant that I had to do an alternate project for the next field trip. My heart sank as my class went on to do an outdoor hike through some of the hills that I first started running in while I had to go to another location alone. Right around the same time, the same neighbor who helped me get signed up for classes allowed me to borrow a car that she had bought originally for her daughter. I went down to the other location given to me by my professor so I could do my sign meant. As I was gone observing various parts of the ecosystem and taking notes, someone broke into the car! I was mortified! Thankfully nothing was stolen, and I brought the car home and explained to my neighbor what it happened. I offered to pay for it, but by the grace of God, she refused. Wow… grace! As I continue through the semester, literally studying day and night, taking only Sundays off, I found moments of relief in the pool at one at my housesits. Finally, my body had allowed me to swim a bit here and there which was such a mental release considering all that I was dealing with! However, as the semester came to an end, the pressure from all the coursework and constant studying until nearly midnight some days along with family struggles (including the news that my sister was about to have ANOTHER baby) my body was beginning to show signs of having enough!

As the semester ended, I was relieved to have the work load lifted from my shoulders! I spent another three days in bed due to the pain that resulted from stress, and as I was carefully walking through target, I received an email from my professor letting me know that I had received one of four A’s in her class! Again, I was humbled by God’s grace and sovereign hand over my studies! I thanked her for all that she did, but then she reminded me that while she did teach me, I was the one who did the work! I then had to remind myself that it was God who gave me the grace, power, and determination to finish the work! So, another victory helped give me the strength and determination to just. keep. going!

Once again I find my post getting lengthy, so I will leave it here for now! I hope that those of you who have been reading my story are encouraged to continue pressing on no matter what you face! Know that God is with you, He sees what you need before you even need it. Never give up! Never lose hope! Until next time… GOD BE WITH YOU!

(Me with my nephew celebrating school victories! Despite the chaos, he and I have been like little buddies through it all!)

Transformation through trials: my journey continues part 11

Standard

Run… just. RUN! Breathe in, breathe out, let the rhythm of the pavement under your feet intermingle with the rhythm of your heart while adding the melodic sounds of all your worries and doubts being stripped away with every blessed step… people used to ask me why I ran so much, and THIS is why: with every step, every mile, every hill repeat or track workout, and with every race I filtered a new worry, shedded a new doubt, pushed myself to levels and limits I never dreamed possible! It made me feel bigger than every person who ever harmed me, lied to me, manipulated me or used me. It’s on the running courses that I truly poured my heart out to God, where I connected with His spirit and felt His presence the most.. I just feel as though I was created to run… my passion… my purpose… just. RUN! Now, hopefully y’all can see and get an idea of why I continued to run and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will race and fly again! I was born for this!

One thing I did not mention in my previous post was the amount of physical pain that I had been through during these times. Yes, I mentioned that I was seeing chiropractors and doing what I could to try to figure out how to alleviate the pain. The problem is, my nerve endings were constantly on fire! I was eating a lot of normal table salt and loaded my oatmeal with sugar. I also ate a lot of other sugar containing foods which became a total breeding ground for inflammation! I would take ibuprofen from time to time, but I really felt that my body just needed to be able to handle the pain on its own. I later found out that I was allergic to ibuprofen, but will get into that, Lord willing, at a later time.

More recently, I have been very quiet about the current details of my life. I will say, however, that I was blessed with yet another opportunity to act in the resurrection production at the church I attend. There I was, delivering the opening monologue as the “healed woman!” In this brief skit, I explained the years of battling with the issue of blood and how one touch of the garment of Jesus healed her, all of her issues were “settled and done!” So much of me related to that monologue! For the first time in my entire time being a performer, I truly connected with the character! Years and years of battling pain, emotionally, physically, etc. Here I am, right now, reaching for the garment of Jesus… begging and pleading for HIS healing touch!!! The thought of finally being delivered from the physical pain I deal with on a day-to-day basis is what really helped me give everything that I am into offering that performance to God and to the audience. I can only hope that this piece touched the heart of those watching as much as it touched mine. I pray that whoever was in the audience that needed a touch from Jesus got their touch that day. Meanwhile, I hope and pray that I too will receive my miracle!

Now, I left off in my last post where my sister and I were becoming friends, she had cleaned up, got into a program, and had brought a little bundle of joy into our lives! So, after a long break from blogging, I’ll continue with my journey.

Part 11 of my journey

Family, there’s no connection like it! The sense of being loved, the sense of knowing that you have people that not only have your back, but share the same blood… this is irreplaceable!

My experience with family hasn’t always been healthy. People didn’t always have my back as you all can see. I didn’t always feel loved. I often felt shoved out and secluded. Yet, with the little bundle of joy that had been brought into our lives, things appeared to change for the better! Life FINALLY seemed to be going well!

Day-to-day life was a bit rough. I was out of a job, so I definitely struggled financially. Then, a bittersweet moment came. The bitter part? I received news a few months prior to my shake down with my dad that the landlord from the first place that I lived at in El Sobrante had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and was fading quickly. This was the man who let me stay in the mobile home when my life was falling apart! He was honestly one of the sweetest people I had ever met! The sweet part? Well, his wife had been caring for him on a daily basis. She needed someone to help take care of him once or twice a week while she went and spent time with her family. She called me about a month prior to the loss of my car and asked if I could care for him in exchange for pay. Honestly, I would’ve done it for free; however, she insisted on paying me and I was really blessed to be given the opportunity to be entrusted with his care. For a short while after the loss of my car I didn’t receive any calls from her to help out.

Just after the birth of my nephew, his health went way downhill and he was bedridden. His wife ended up calling me a bit more. It wasn’t consistent work. She didn’t need me every week, but it was provision during a very dry financial season and the perfect opportunity to try to give back to someone who had given so much to me.

I think one of the most encouraging moments while taking care of him was when he actually let me feed him! Prior to my caring for him, he would not allow anybody other than his wife help him eat. Then, as I was upstairs reading a book, I heard him mumble something about wanting cookies! I quickly went to the cabinet, got his chocolate chip cookies, a cup of milk, and headed down the stairs to the basement where he lay. Here he was… this man that I used to see cleaning up the yard every day, driving around the streets of town, joking with me when I’d run by, a man who chose to enjoy traveling with his wife rather than spending a fortune on sparkling up a home that would only fade away, a man so cheery… now, barely able to move or even talk! My heart just broke for him! I sat next to him, dipped the cookie in some milk so it would be soft enough for him to eat, and he allowed me to feed him! If any of you know what Lou Gehrig’s is like, you’ll understand that when someone is in the final stages of this disease, the simple task of eating can cause them to choke and die. His trusting me to feed him was probably one of the most encouraging moments I’ve ever had in my life! He slowly finished his cookies and I helped him sit up and drink the rest of his milk through a straw. This became something I definitely looked forward to during my times of caring for him!

In my personal life, I continued to run, but I wasn’t really able to race. I did maybe one race during that whole time, but emotionally I was just not with it. The eating disorder had really grabbed a hold of me. I was running to burn calories instead of running to train. This became very obvious at my birthday party at yummygurt in Pinole. I was absolutely exhausted, and way too thin! Looking back, I know now that my God-family could see it, but I was so blind!

I was trying so hard to build the nutrition business with my friend, just trying to survive, going with my mom to work in Berkeley just so I could run on the streets out there and then help her clean buildings, my baby sister was even helping US with food despite having to provide for herself and the baby… I was stressed out, wrung out, and felt guilty, miserable and worthless! Meanwhile, my sister kept going through her program and entered into transitional home! A bit of hope in the midst of chaos! Seeing her press on through her trials encouraged me to start applying for work… for real, stable work. Finally, I received a call from a local grocery store saying they wanted to interview me! I quickly went in and was hired that day for clerk position in the deli/bakery! This was yet another bittersweet moment for me. Having the new job meant that I quite possibly would not have the time to take care of my dear friend.

The day of my orientation, I was caring for him. My mom came to get me, and as I headed out the door, something told me this was the last time I would ever see him again. I looked back at him and said, “goodbye Wally.” It was almost as though I was terrified to even go near him. I’ve carried the guilt of this moment even till today. That evening, just after my orientation, I received a call from his wife that he had passed. I totally fell apart!

Starting work at the grocery store definitely had its challenges! To be honest, I originally applied there because I had a crush on someone that worked there. Upon getting hired, I found out that he had a girlfriend. The way he acted around me did not make it look that way that’s for sure! Though we never went past friendly “hi how are you” conversations, he definitely acted like he was interested. So, I did my best to be as civil as possible. If we were in a room like the break room alone together, I tried to stay as far away from him as possible or leave that room. I kept my conversations with him very quick and simple. With the schedule at my new job, I barely had time for the nutrition business. Honestly, none of the products really, truly suited me. I found myself trying to fit into a mold that just wasn’t for me.

Long hours at the deli with extremely chaotic shifts, the battles of trying to rise above financially, the mental strain of being at work for nine hours and trying to get to and from home, all this became exhausting, all while working around the awkwardness with the guy that worked there… ughh! What a mess!

When I worked in the deli in the evenings, I would go for a run in my area in the mornings. Then, they decided they liked me to work in the bakery and open in the mornings. As one of the few people who was actually able to complete all the opening work by the time the store opened and still have it look neat… they kept me primarily in that position and often had me do switchbacks where I would close, then open. This meant early mornings around 3-4 AM busting my butt to bake bread, donuts, packaged food, etc. I would often be off around noon or 1.

(One of the beautiful cakes that the decorators made 💜💜💜)

The town I live in is far away from any real grocery stores including the one I worked for. Using the bus system would have taken me several hours to get home. So, I would go for a run in the area and do personal Bible studies and church membership homework while I waited for my mom to head back from Berkeley and pick me up on her way home. I found myself often and pain because I had no way to see Dr. Runco in Concord. I then started to see the first chiropractor I’d gone to in El Sobrante who was helpful, but just didn’t seem to be able to get to the root of it. Restrictive eating began to worsen. While I did eat a lot, I was not eating enough calories or the right nutrients for all of the work that I was doing.

Then, devastating news hit! My step grandmother on my mom’s side had been reported missing! Apparently, she had gone to go visit an area in the mountains that was very special to her and my grandpa (who had passed) and never returned. My aunt sent me an article that had been written about it through a DM on my Facebook page. We prayed, waiting, and hoped for several days only to receive the report that she had apparently gotten lost then distracted while driving and ended up trapped in the middle of nowhere in her car. Every day that she was out there she wrote letters about everything that had been going through her mind. The woman who taught me to color in the lines, let me call her “grandma fluffy,” who let me play with her art supplies and create whatever I wanted, who bowled like a maniac and Who always had some quirky new creation to show me when I visited was gone! Grief shook me like an earthquake! links to the news articles that explain her disappearance and final days are below:

Diaries of a missing woman

Grass Valley Resident Missing

I was exhausted! The combination of long, draining hours at work, physical pain, the loss of two people that were dear to me, malnutrition, constant stress of finances all beganto take their toll on me! PTSD hit in ways I would not wish on anybody! During early morning shifts, I would begin to hallucinate and see shadows in the darkened corners of the store. I would shake and twitch at random times, black out, forget random scheduled events, and would have night tremors so bad that I would wake up and feel paralyzed!

Finally, I was in so much physical pain that I went back to Dr. Runco to see if he could help! Slowly, I started feeling a bit better. Still, everything became too much for me! I cried out to God, and He answered in a very odd way. While driving to work one morning, my mom’s car failed on us. It barely made it to the grocery store parking lot! My manager was kind enough to let her stay inside where she made some calls and tried to figure out what to do. I had to open the bakery which is a very high pressure/high stress job while seeing my mom crushed and feeling hopeless. Her job relied on a good working vehicle and the ability to get to her accounts to clean them.

After spending most of the morning there, one of the managers was kind enough to take her home. There we were, in yet another position of not knowing what to do! My poor mom! As if it wasn’t enough that she stressed constantly about finances and life… this had to happen to her too! We were both just trying to get our heads above water! I felt like little tortured kitty drowning in a pond only to be beaten down every time I started to rise and get back up!

I continued trying to work. Fellow church members helped me get to and from work and chiropractic appointments, but all the stress became way too much! My body had had enough!!! I was in horrible pain again, and my chiropractor wrote a form of temporary disability releasing me from my job. With the injury that I was dealing with, all the bending and twisting had become too much. It was one thing for me to walk and run and do balance work which are normal, human functions; however, repeated bending, stooping, twisting, and all at an extremely high-pressure pace… yeahhh not the wisest position for someone to be in if you’re trying to recover from an injury! I took a few days back while trying to continue to gently walk, then was able jog and slowly regain my strength.

I remember laying in bed one night completely exhausted and friend of mine that I had met while working in the deli called me. This woman was honestly one of the greatest blessings in my storm! She encouraged and reminded me that she and I both knew that the deli/ bakery job was temporary. She reminded me of all the ideas that I had as far as ministry goes. Then, something came to mind. While I was working in the deli/bakery, I was constantly encouraging people to live out their dreams to do everything they’ve always wanted to do. There I was, letting life consume me, battling an eating disorder, and watching people that I knew from running and racing come in on Sundays after race events, my spirit longing so desperately to fly!… I would watch the choir sing and perform, the worship team at church singing their hearts out to God, but I had to step back because I was always working and striving to live. I understand that as people we need to work and live. I truly believe that hard work is an essential part of being human. The problem was not the job but the fact that I was shackled. I was chained to self hatred, oppression, guilt, unforgiveness and all these things had to be stripped away. The loss that job was just the beginning of a series of transformations for me, transformations that were more painful than anything I could ever explain, yet at the same time… very necessary and beneficial to my well-being! Just as the Word says:

(Image property of Christian.org)

With that, I’ll leave you all for now. As I’ve said many times before, I pray that the sharing of my journey encourages those of you who are reading to find God, to find His peace in the middle of your storm, and no matter what trial you’re facing, ask him to give you the strength to rise on Eagles wings above that storm! Grab a hold of His garment today and receive your miracle!

When fear foods become favorite foods; my journey to weight restoration.

Standard

* disclaimer! I am not a healthcare professional. I would highly advise  seeking out a medical help before attempting any method of recovery.*

Summer break is here!  What an incredible semester it has been! Out of every semester I’ve had in college I will say that mentally and emotionally was one of the most challenging!  Just before midterms I found myself completely overwhelmed between the stress of classes, a promotion at work, and health issues … my body had had enough! For the entire semester, Outside of school and work,  I found myself in bed either sick or in pain.  It was honestly like being inside of a mental prison.

IMG_4403

Earlier in the semester I had battled another heart issue that sent me to the ER. I later found out that it was due to an infection caused by part of a tooth left in my head by a previous dentist along with what is known as refeeding syndrome.  Refeeding syndrome is when someone with an eating disorder begins to gain weight and introduces new foods into their system. The body reacts in shock and various things can occur that can be detrimental to someone’s health.  For me, my heart felt like it was going to explode. Literally, it felt like someone reaching from my back, grabbed my chest and squeezed my heart. However, that’s the price I pay for hurting my body through malnourishment.  As I mentioned in my last post I was dealing with a lot of muscular issues, and I finally had to stand up to myself. I took a professor’s advice and dropped a course that was incredibly stressful which postedponed my summer graduation (for my AA). thankfully I did that because had I stayed with it there’s no way I would’ve been able to keep up with classes. To be honest, by the end of the semester I was so done with looking at books that it was hard for me to focus on my assignments let alone remember half of what I read. Thankfully, by the hand of God I made it through!

Meanwhile, I began to get really, and I mean REALLY serious about my recovery. After doing some research  on the topic, I came across an Instagram picture posted by someone who is been a huge icon in the recovery community, Miss Julia Grigorian from dropsofjules.com  in the picture she stated that she was going to do a blog post about the method that she chose for recovery and why she would definitely do it again. I quickly went to the post, read it, scanned over some of the other posts that she talked about that method in, and did a Google search  to find more information on the pros and cons of using it.  That method was the Minni Maud method.  The details  of this method can be found at your eatopia  . Anywho,  I was praying and I didn’t know exactly how to approach this. Due to years of restriction, my body had developed sensitivities to various foods like wheat, soy, etc. however, the night that I decided that I was going to do this, my neighbor came over and asked my  mom if she would like a pizza for my nephew and her.  She gladly excepted and told him what toppings she wanted. He offered to buy me some as well. I kindly turned him down explaining that I had food sensitivities (excuses excuses).

That evening, I was scheduled to talk with my dear friend Emily about weight gain and the side effects on her podcast.  Inside, I wanted so badly to be free. Here I was trying to recover and setting example for those in the recovery community as well and I could not even get myself to eat a piece of pizza! I had eaten a salad and was going to eat something a little heavier afterwords for dinner. However, I was really craving that pizza!  I was craving it so bad, I could almost taste the pepperoni and sausage! Anxiety set in  and I began to text back-and-forth with Emily to prepare for the podcast. I told her that I was dealing with the food fear,  she asked if she could call me, and when we talked she was so kind and helped to calm my nerves.  We went into the podcast, and prayed afterwards. When we hung up the phone, I went straight in to see a pizza delivered at on my kitchen table! The first question I asked my mom was if I could have a piece and she smiled really big and said , “of course!”  That one piece turned into 2 1/2 pieces of pepperoni and sausage pizza. For dessert, chocolate cheesecake! There, begin my true entry into real recovery !

In the days following that I found myself eating  500-600+ cal breakfast two  300+ cal snacks, 500 to 600+ cal lunches,  and 500 to 600+ cal dinners allll followed by 350-400+  cal desserts!  Or some days that I eat 3000 cal, some days that I ate well over that, and some days I just slightly under.  I’ll be honest, the weight came on really fast along with depression, headaches, and exhaustion.  My body was not used to having all those things and was quickly trying to adjust. I found out later in researching that the exhaustion and headaches are due to the body trying to heal.  I could feel an internal burning, like a furnace had been turned up inside of me. I found out that it was also part of recovery because my body had to speed up my metabolism in order to be able to fully except all the calories that were being taken in!  Finally, after just two weeks of doing the method, I had finally reached the weight that my doctor wanted me to be at, even a few pounds more.   While I am now currently technically weight restored,  certain things still are not functioning and the way that they should  (my period is still MIA), so I’m trying my best to stick with it. I will be honest and say that I’ve had some days where I haven’t had the 2,500 -3,000 cal  that I should still be having until that takes place. However, I’m finding that I have a lot more freedom mentally that I’ve had in years! While don’t do any exercises outside of what my physical therapist has prescribed for me,  I still enjoy food that I wouldn’t even touch when I was exercising !  I have returned to eating gluten-free because I feel that’s what my body needs.  With that I’ve decided to keep eating pancakes, high calorie salads loaded with goodies,  dark chocolate, lots of popcorn, gluten-free cake, and much more.  Since I’ve gone back to that the headaches have seem to go away.   That being said, I want to continue with this until I know my body is ready to move on!

For any of you are reading this, if you’re seeking out a recovery method, I highly recommend this one. It does require that you refrain from all exercise. However, you have to remember that in exercise you’re tearing muscles and your body has to repair them. So, if you’re exercising when you’re trying to recover and have nothing to repair your muscle  with, then you’re defeating the purpose of exercise and ultimately destroying your body. Something you might want to think twice about. Again I’m not a healthcare professional yet, I am going to school for that, and I highly recommend that you speak with your doctor before attempting this.

Now,  before I go I’ll share something I’m currently struggling with. While I have reached a good weight, I desire to be able to work out again. My physical therapist and Chiropractor want me in the pool  to help me regain balance and strength. Also, the strength exercises at my physical therapist has given me have caused my body to hurt at times.  I’m currently facing a summer where I would very much like some freedom in my body and be able to swim and work out again. I face the following giants in the way:

1.)  muscular issues. There’s treatment that I need that my insurance does not cover.  I currently don’t have the finances to cover it.

2.)  I need access to a good pool with good amenities such as a hot tub and sauna so that before and after I do swim therapy, I can treat my muscles with kindness so they can heal properly. A gym membership like that is quite costly.

3.)  my mom and I both work, however we are facing some financial difficulties. It’s not always easy to purchase things that we need on a daily basis.

Being said, I’m requesting prayer that the Lord either supernaturally heals me with that he provides the things that I need to get the treatment and the access to the facilities for me to be able to get my balance and strength back. Also, prayer for provision for my family and me. Ultimately,  I believe that someday I’ll run again. Please pray  that if the Lord wills, that He will release me to do so!

Another struggle a face, is body image. My body has swelled because of recovery and a lot of my clothes don’t fit me properly.  Please pray that the Lord helps me endure this and make it through to full recovery!

104D60AF-B3C0-4631-AE39-55A15E44E5F5

Before Minnie Maud (left) Thigh gap After Minni Maud (right) Thighs touch, pants don’t fit, but definitely worth it!

Now, off to another amazing vacation! This time it’s the longest vacation I’ve had from school! Lord willing, it will be full of amazing adventures !