Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Xanax Can Be Good

*Xanax is getting such a bad name. It has saved my life.

I've been on Xanax since 1994. Most years, I took 2 pills - that's it. In fact, I always threw most of the pills out because they expire after 2 yrs. Knowing I had some in case of an emergency kept me functional. When I don't have any, on top of the anxiety, I have a Crohns attack (losing control of my bowels) and an asthma attack, which exacerbates my anxiety. Feels like I am going to die. That's why I stay home alone. I need Xanax. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Ouch!I fell today and couldn't get back up, which led to an anxiety attack & asthma. Now I'm depressing.

Blog on Mackenzie Phillips  

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I pray to ask God for things I believe need. He has been using prayer to tell me what I actually need.
My BSF leader asked for my prayer request – here is what I told her: discernment; I signed up for 3 Bible studies and it feels like too much, yet I feel guilty when my close friends are heavily active and I basically stay home all day. My leader’s summary to our group: Pray for Shelly to know how God wants her to use her time.
Then the leader of my Beth Moore study and I had the following email correspondence:
Her: We missed you today at bible study. Me: Not sure I will stay in the class... I am in 2 other Bible Studies and it is too much. Her comment on the group’s prayer list: Shelly – praise – she has three bible studies to choose from! Pray for discernment as to where she should be spending her time right now. (we hope to see you back Shelly!)
This morning I read from Pastor Joel Hunter’s newest book, Inner State 80, how our ambition should be not to run around trying to get things done. Rather we should strive to ‘live a life that is quietly meaningful and productive…’
I think I know what God wants me to pray for.

Friday, September 11, 2009


A day our country will never forget. September 11th, 2001, our nation changed forever. Everyone has a story of where they were when they heard the tragedy… my story reminds me of how our circumstances determine perceptions.

One of my best friends had just found out she was pregnant. I had been with her the night before when she took her THIRD pregnancy test. To put it mildly, she was in shock.

At the time, I was in full time private practice, no co-workers, only 4 to 5 clients per day. When the first plane attacked, I was doing my insurance billing when Katie Couric reported on the tragedy. I called my friend:

Her: Hello, Shelly (caller ID)
Me: A plane just hit the World Trade Center!!!
Her: Yeah?..... So?
Me: They think it’s terrorists!
Her: Okay… (silence)…. What do you want me to do?

I felt stupid making such a big deal out of it, so I hung up and went back to billing. Then the second plane hit. I called my friend again:

Her: Yes, Shelly?! (sounds of disqust)
Me: Another plane just hit!!
Her: Shelly, what do you want me to do? I have bigger problems right now! I have no control over New York City!!! Don’t you have work to do?

Okay… so I turned off the TV and went about the day, convinced I was being overly dramatic. When I finally understood the magnitude of what had happened, it reminded me – what is a major deal to one person may be minor to another person. Therefore, we shouldn’t compare our life’s circumstances to others. People may think I have a tough life having disabilities, when I view friends who have a marriage and children as having a much tougher life than mine. It’s all relative.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Social Security Phone Call

The Social Security - Disability hotline is voice activated. Keeps telling me it can't understand me... HELLO!!?? I wouldn't be calling IF I DIDN'T HAVE A DISABILITY!!!!!!! stupid people.

Wonder if they recorded me:
Prompt: "I'm sorry, I cannot understand you."
Me: "You should be!"
Prompt: "Please spell your first name."
Me: "M-i- c-h-e-l-e"
Prompt: "Was that 'N-w-o-p-k'?
Prompt: "I'm sorry, I cannot understand you. Please spell your first name."
Silence for 10 seconds...
Prompt: "I'm sorry, I cannot understand you."

Monday, September 7, 2009

White People, Green Room, and Heaven

*written in general terms to protect parties involved.

I grew up in a narrow minded environment. Once, my ‘circle’ was asked how I was different from the rest, and the answer was “Shelly’s not prejudice; she sees all people as equal.” When I became an adult, I brought a friend from college home and was lectured sternly. My friend wasn’t Caucasian. I was told to stay with my own kind… even in friendships. One day, I boldly stated heaven is not going to be all white people. I was informed when they get to heaven, they will tell St. Peter to take them to the all white section…. My response? What if St. Peter isn’t white?

Needless to say, my ‘circle’ is far from pleased with my lifestyle.

Now I find myself in a different ‘family’… my church family. Several years ago, I gave part of my testimony to Northland’s congregation of approximately 12,000 people. Since I don’t do good interacting one on one with strangers, I hung out with the Worship Team the whole weekend. They instantly took me in as ‘family’ and has been loving me ever since.

Looking around the Green Room, I am soooo out of place! I couldn’t be more mismatched. My pastor is internationally known, even called regularly by President Obama for prayers and counsel. He is probably one of the top 3 influential pastors in America. Then there’s half of Avalon, the Christian Contemporary band, who call Northland their church home. The team has sung/played with such talents as Disney, Phil Collins (including going on tour as his back up singer), Hank Williams, Jr. and many other entertainment venues. Let me just say that some influential people – preaching, singing, playing, etc – hang out back stage. Yet you would never know it by being a fly on the wall. Not one of them acts better than the other… they all share a common desire and purpose – to live for Jesus. Maybe that’s why against all odds, I feel welcomed in their circle.

And maybe that is what will make heaven so glorious… every tongue, tribe, nation, disability, ability, etc. will feel welcomed, all sharing the running thread of being children of God.

6Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. – Rev. 14

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Thank You for the Discomfort

My bible is marked with dates and incidents next to verses I have meditated on. Since I change bibles frequently, the bible I’ve been using this past year has a theme reflecting clinging to Jesus instead of seeking comfort from others. Even I notice a chip on my shoulder in the markings of this bible.

Second Timothy 4:16-18 is etched in my heart because I’ve read it over and over… savoring each word with tears and praise. This morning, I read it with a new perspective.

17But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed…

I had no one to turn to except the Lord, no one to strengthen me but Him…

Matthew Henry writes, “ If the Lord stands by us, he will strengthen us in difficulties and dangers, and his presence will more than supply every one's absence.”

What blessings would I have missed if things had gone as I wanted? How often do I forsake the Lord’s strength and presence for the sake of comfort and social acceptance? What could be better than His strength in difficulties and danger, and his presence which more than supplies every one’s absence?

I know the answers to these questions… my problem is I forget to practice what I know.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Isaiah 50:4

The TV was taken out of my bedroom. Books are going back in my writing room. And the shades have opened.

These are clear signs I am out of my most recent depression. The blinders of despair and anhedonia have been removed and sunshine basks on the tiled floor.

I can’t look away from God, though. I can’t look at my social commitments, nor can I dwell on the empty planner pages of the past 14 months.

One day at a time. Holding on to His hand as he leads me to better pastures. As we set out for a new territory, he gives me a desire to share through my writing, an instructed tongue to teach. No longer is He carrying me, yet forever he is leading me.

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. Isaiah 50:4

Stormy Prayer

Finding myself back in the storm,
Insecurity within events have formed.
Smooth waters I've treaded without wakes,
Now waves are stirring from my mistakes.
I'm sorry I left, took my eyes from Your face,
Ran up ahead instead of following Your pace.
God, help me learn so this makes me much stronger.
Without you is a feeling I can't endure any longer.   

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Friends Forever

Fanning through forty years of life,
Laughs & tears, good times & strife.
Friends I lost and found again,
Comparing memories of way back when.

When did our bodies and health decline?
When did ‘when I was young…’ become our line?
We resemble our mothers in ways we despise,
Seems funerals keep happening along with ‘good-byes’.

So we’re now middle aged, hairs turning gray.
Yet in our hearts we’re the kids who’d gather and play.
We’ll always be young when we’re together..
Just as we promised, we are friends forever.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Talk Therapy

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study. --Chinese proverb

A few people have told me I am too smart for my own good in the area of psychology. I know what to say to doctors not only for them to prescribe the medications I want, but also in a way so they think coming up with the drug was their own idea. Have been doing that for 15 years. With psychologists, I know too much about cognitive therapies, psychopathology, and counseling techniques to present myself as a clean slate. Therefore, I haven’t been to counseling for years.

The past few days, I’ve experienced two epiphanies, which came out of nowhere. The first was during an initial Bible study when I was asked if I had a perceived failure that weighed me down. Without thinking, I said, “I’ve always said I have great faith in God and can do all things through Him who strengthens me, yet I surrendered to my depression. Not only am I a Christian, I’m a licensed mental health counselor who had to give up my private practice because I was paralyzed by depression!” Whoa… where did THAT come from?!

The second epiphany happened when I was having a Starbucks date with my friend, Michelle. We were discussing family problems, to which I told her certain relatives of mine have called me a snob since I was in middle school. Yet the same relatives criticize me for not sharing their mindset, which is pure prejudice. Again, without thinking, I said, “I’m sick of feeling guilty for having a college education! I worked my butt off studying, not sleeping, etc. and I’m tired of minimizing it! I am proud of what I’ve done!” Whoa, yet again!

Evidently, I’ve some conversations to have and hidden wounds to uncover.

Writing... Again

A reader named, Lisa, just posted a comment on my last post saying Jesus is the only one who can be there the way we need Him... I knew I had to post the blog I wrote yesterday. I hesitated because it isn't as well written as I would like... but Lisa's words convinced me to jump back in to blogging... here we go:
After taking a break from writing this past year, God is showing me I am in a new season. My depression is under control and every area in my life is arranged for me to jump into full time writing.

I’ve learned some great lessons, some of which I am only realizing after coming out of the darkness and living in the light again. Depression can really distort your perspective. Let me share just a few realizations:

Jesus is the only one who truly can carry you through the storm.
I didn’t know what I needed, so how could I expect others to know? When too many people heard lies and rumors from a devious person, I told everyone to leave me alone. Everyone did, then I was upset no one checked on me!
a. Don’t generalize all people based on the actions of individuals who are more interested in drama/gossip/feeling superior to you.
b. Jesus is always there for you. He will listen to you, comfort you, speak to you, and even make you laugh. You’re not in this alone – He wants to go through it with you.
c. Jesus has experienced sadness, disappointment, rejection, agony… so He not only understands the pain you feel, He chose to experience the torment and devastation for you.
d. Sometimes, in fact, most of the time, you have to let go and start a new chapter. For me, many of my actions and words were prescription drug induced. It took awhile for my body to adjust to medication changes, and now I have little or no recollection of what took place. Therefore, how can I hold a grudge against people?
e. Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every morning. And since Christians are called to be Christ-like, well… what does that tell you?