God has been all around me lately and on Tuesday He spoke this prayer. I was trying to think of a name for a Facebook group of my friends and words wafted through as I walked to the car. Then BITS came in. I wondered if it stood for something. I got “Blessed in the Struggle.” I like that. As I drove down the rather steep hill from my therapist’s office this prayer came to me, in lines and different colors. I finally pulled over to let it come through. I AM BITS.
I am BITS.
I AM Blessed in the Struggle.
I welcome His purifying pain.
I release my need to understand.
I submit my life to the Lord.
Every piece I’m angry about,
every care I hold, like each stone in the lake, I let go of.
My pain was never mine to begin with.
Jesus is mine.
Please Lord, show me your way.
Teach me how to read.
Teach me how to be, free.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
A strange thing happened tonight. I was out to pizza with a friend and I had my dog Ellie. I know crazy people are drawn to me but tonight’s variety was different. I was at the counter waiting for a change in receipt when a disheveled man came in from outside and asked about Ellie. He started talking about PTSD service dogs and mentioned he was homeless. He told me he saw a super famous doctor in La Jolla once. I asked if he was a vet and he said no, that he wasn’t part of “the killing machine.” I tried to end the conversation and go back to my friend but no such luck.
The man came with me and sat down with us. He said there was something he wanted to tell us, something important. I have no idea what it was. I do remember him saying the word “bitchin'” and his name being Greg. My brother’s name is Greg and he’s the only one I’ve ever heard say that word. I wanted to give him a low income housing resource. Instead I heard about his experience being homeless, his family structure, some pro-Trump ranting, and how if he’s going to join a gym it has to be 24 Hour Fitness because it’s right down the street.
The man was filled with tears. He knew we wanted him to leave, yet he stayed. He asked if he could pray for us. He put out his hands and I held one and closed my eyes. He said a powerful prayer for my friend and I. God was there. I could feel it. He walked away and we took our pizza and left. The feeling stayed with me that God was there. Before I got in the car he showed up again and said to me that he really needs my help and would I PLEASE help him to get some place to live, some place with a bathroom and a shower, that he would work hard. He just really wants help. It was sincere. He never asked me for money or to buy him anything. He came to bring God to me.
I got in the car and told my friend about faith, that what is holding me up now is faith. I don’t understand what’s happening and I can’t fix or change it, but what I have is an unending faith and a posse of blessings and a crowd of people who love and support me. I have Jesus. I let go and trust. I am held. I’ve been really scared and, as my friend would say, “losing my shit,” and tonight God sent me a homeless man to refocus, to reconnect. He didn’t go anywhere. He never stopped caring for me, making everything right. Sometimes I just can’t see.
Thank you so much, God, for loving me. Please show me how to help your servant Greg.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
I feel so good. My body is really sore and I can’t drive but I feel light. Colors are crisp and clear. They may only last a moment but I have ideas. I smile warmly for no reason. I breathe deeply without having to think.
Today I had ECT (my 1st since April). A change in anesthetic caused some problems but I am so much better. I am blessed with an amazing doctor who genuinely cares about me and a dream support team. Friends are helping with rides. I am released to rest and sleep (both from my depression & ECT).
It’s been almost a year since I was doing somewhat okay. My current therapist says he doesn’t recall ever seeing me not in crisis. Late summer I started to get worse. My repeated calls for help fell on ears that considered them my norm. I prepped to go inpatient in Sept/Oct but thanks to an amazing arsenal of coping skills and extra sessions of therapy I was able to hold off. I asked for ECT. My doc wanted DBT-IOP. I got pushed into a different program instead due to my people being in DBT, despite my multiple warnings that it was not a good idea. It was, as anticipated, a catastrophe that ended with an event appropriately described as trauma that I’ve yet to be able to process. In 1 day I went from 25+ hours of treatment/therapy per week to 2-3 hours. Not good.
Lately my suicidal ideation has been through the roof. I’m fighting for my life. I’ve also been impulsive, angry, self-harming, dark, unable to access empathy, scared, feeling alone and hopeless. Last week I called my therapist at midnight. I packed for the hospital. I cried.
They laid hands on and prayed for me at church on Sunday. It was unexpected yet utterly calming. I was surprised last week when my pdoc offered ECT. In one moment she validated and made my ongoing normalized experience true. I was confused. Even this morning I was panicked as they put me under. But Dr. M had my hand and I could feel God and see the outlines of my angel and D- and some unknown to my left. I am exhausted and sore but I am okay.
God, thank you for blessing me with family & friends and kick ass doctors. Please continue with my healing and keep using me for Your will.
My next treatment is Thursday. I wonder how long they will last – not the set but how long between treatments before the effect begins to wear off. I’m itching to do weekly. I can drive then. ;)
I enjoy resting and sleeping now. And rain
Update 1/31/17 1:46am:
I had a treatment on Thursday and another today. The weekend was really bad but I feel better now. I’m getting some rest and reminding myself to do one thing at a time, be “gentle to self,” as we say in group. I’m proud of me and grateful for my treatment team, my friends and ECT. There is hope in electricity.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
It’s not over.
It’s not finished.
It’s not ending.
It’s only the beginning.
When God is in it, all things made new.
It played in my head before and resumed again.
I visited the dungeon. I sat with 15. She gave me a button. I’m not broken. And I’m not sure I believe it.
I’m not broken.
The button is real.
The sickness is real, but I am real too.
I talked about my kidneys and Ashley. My body held all of my sins and strife in a hollow ringing dark blue ball in my back. My body said to let go. Let go. I can’t follow the pattern of movement and change. Hands, feet, rocking, stretching. A whirl in my head like a blender. Then we were there. I went to the dungeon. I went to see 15.
Mom says not to go down there, that she’s bad and deserves to be punished and alone, a disgrace to the family. She eats spaghetti. But she’s not. She’s just a little girl looking to be loved. She’s not broken. I’m not broken. It was cold there. She sat on the floor instead of the bench. The door was open. I sat next to her. I didn’t say a word.
Her hair was stringy, eyes big. She was younger than me, scared but she didn’t run away. She just watched me. I wasn’t scared of being caught like before. I didn’t try to change or convince her. She’s not broken. I’m not broken. This isn’t our fault.
I feel nervous as I write this, like someone is watching and will find out and get me.
(someone screams in real life – look up)
She gave me a trinket, a small button with an anchor on it. It was dark blue and textured. She is the anchor and she is not broken. She is REAL and I have to save her. Or do I? Maybe I could just be her friend, hold her hand. Maybe she can teach me.
I decided that maybe I could take her a picnic. She had a very important message for me – “You have to dance.” The phrase comes to mind, “Don’t let me die in vain.” Is she really dying? I want the time to love her. She’s not broken. I’m not broken.
I set a goal to dance with some videos this week and to re-query Trisha about space. In order to be successful in teaching while sick, I need to drop my pride and be open. That is hardest for me. It’s why 15 is in the dungeon and why I don’t teach kids. I’m terrified.
It’s a made up fear.
No it’s not.
Okay, a little. But SOME of it is real.
Plan for the ending.
Almost everything scares me. I stuff the fear inside the blue ball. Shame is placed in the dungeon. Sadness lives in my core. Anger stays in my head. Before the ball, fear burrows everywhere wreaking havoc on all of my cells. Uncertainty or loss take my breath. Overwhelm lives in my throat. I hold tight to the spiky pain. It makes me dizzy and confused. And exhausted.
I’m not broken. (deep breath)
I need to visit and learn from her. She survived. She’s real. The button is real.
All of the worries and fears of a few hours ago are gone. God gave me Soleil and 15. I prayed on a dandelion that God would set me free. I pondered the insight of a eucalyptus before it sheds. (My foot tingles) I remembered I grew like a tree last year and the tree on my wall to symbolize that.
I’m not broken.
And I’m hungry.
It doesn’t matter what I lose.
God is holding me.
He has always provided, always will.
It’s not my plan.
It IS my life.
I’m not broken.
I have to dance.
I feel dizzy.
I just looked down at my anchor button and realized it’s a J for Jesus. (smile) Praise God. Yes, He is my anchor.
I am not broken
© Michelle Routhieaux 2014
It’s official. I got my driver’s license. What a trip. Exhausting. I’m sitting now in the quiet of our mechanic’s waiting room, letting myself settle to the ticks of a clock. (Eyes closed…) In here it is cool. I can begin to relax.
I believe that I failed my driving test. God passed for me. Praise God I had a nice examiner. I almost hit a truck and had to try backing up 3 times. I was terrified, fighting to stay in the moment and ignore or combat the automatic negative thoughts and keep driving through the flashbacks.
When we pulled in I was shaking, fighting off tears. I didn’t believe her when she said I passed. All she said was, “Ok.” Odd. I held it together long enough to get through the line and to the bathroom to cry. These voices were screaming in my head, “You FAILED. AGAIN. You are NOTHING. I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! You’re right back where you started. DIE!” I pulled myself together enough to go out to Mom and then lost it again. I was crying so hard. All the stress from this month all came out in tears and sobs. She held me, pouring out reassurance about driving, which had nothing to do with my crying. It was nice just me and her. I finally calmed down after some Jamba Juice. Now I’m exhausted.
I didn’t expect that reaction. I couldn’t forsee, nor would I want to. It helped a lot that I went to the gym this morning and wore my new outfit. I had a pep talk with God, felt empowered. I met my goal today – to take the drive test. I faced one of my demons. I didn’t back down. I did it. I just happen to have gotten a license in the process.
(deep quiet breaths…)
To new beginnings.
To spiral journals.
To taking back ME.
To new beginnings.
To starting over.
To cleaning house.
To owning my behavior.
To life transparency.
To new beginnings.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2013
“I have a message for you. You deserve the best.
Don’t settle for anything less.”
Something weird happened to me in church today. I usually greet Pastor after the service but I was talking with someone so I hugged him when he walked by. I said, “It’s nice to see you.” He placed his hand firmly on my shoulder, looked me square in the eye and said, “I have a message for you.” I said, “Okay.” He continued, “You deserve the best. Don’t settle for anything less.” I said, “Okay…” And he turned and walked away. (???) I know God was speaking through him but I’m not sure why.
I asked Diane later why everyone was crying today and she said, “Because Pastor has liver cancer.” I said, “I know. But he had cancer last week too.” And he’ll have it next week as well. She said folks are realizing the mortality of the pastor, a mortality I’m well aware involves family for them. I feel no emotional attachment to the issue. I guess it could be considered rude. I feel it is a calling.
I joined the choir of this church in February, maybe March. God told me to and I listened. I wasn’t sure why. I’m not particularly fond of the music, though it’s beautiful, and the closeness of the people frightens me. But I know I am supposed to be there and I like it. I am learning to love hymns and to socialize with people. There’s something I haven’t told them. I don’t understand it fully but I know why I’m here.
The pastor is going to die. Maybe 10 years from now, maybe tomorrow. But he is. I felt it my first day there and it hasn’t gone away. By nature in new situations I look for a system, a pattern of operation. I want to know how things work and where I fit in. I need to know the rules, the standard operations, where they keep the toilet paper and which row I’m supposed to sit in. I look for areas of need and devise systems to improve them. Here my ideas aren’t warmly welcomed. I realize I’m on someone else’s turf and I need to back down. But I’m here for a reason.
When Diane got in her car accident there were angels with her. And they were in the church when she returned, and they were with the pastor. A heavy presence centers the ground, prepares it for his message. He glows gold. He knows he is dying. I know that we all are. I feel a purpose for me in this transition but I’m not sure that it’s welcome. When I look around, I see areas of change, things that can be improved. I have ideas. They are not ready yet. I am careful not to mention my ideas much. They are seen as an intrusion on established customs. They do it their way. If this were DBSA, I’d be -. I hate -. -‘s always wantin’ to change things. I like them my way. But sometimes her way is better. In this case, it doesn’t matter whose way things get done as long as they get done.
My mom says I’m cold for caring more about the logistics than the emotions of the people. Yes. I guess I’m cold. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. I care deeply for these people. Deeply enough to fight for growth and change, to pick up where some upset person left off, to continue the business of a church when its people are in mourning. The pastor is going to die. I don’t feel sad about that. I feel a little joy. This man who is so close to God will get to meet Him. And what a lovely meeting it will be. My soul smiles when I think of it.
I know I don’t have the normal social reactions most people do. I think God blessed me with my coldness for a reason. I just want to help. I don’t process things the way others do. It is a blessing and a curse. One of my providers thinks I have Asperger’s (high functioning autism). At first I was totally against the idea. Change. Fucking change. But the more I look into it, I agree. I need to talk it over with my other providers. In this situation it allows me to be functional with a lack of emotion, but I can’t understand what’s going on because it’s not happening to me. I don’t think like that. I plan. I live by systems and order. I expect tragedy. I live.
All this to say, God spoke to me through the pastor today and I’m not sure what it means. But I’m pretty sure it’s important. God bless the queen.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2013
- Forces me to slow down, to be mindful of each thing I do
- Refocuses my attention on God
- Shows me what is and isn’t important
- Humbles me
- Makes me greatly appreciate the little things when they come back
- Gives me permission to take care of ME
- Allows me a space to heal
- Reminds me this is His plan, not mine
- Increases my empathy towards others
- Purifies me
- Reminds me of all my blessings
- Shows me how frail I really am
- Causes me to seek help
- Causes me to want to apologize & forgive
- Breaks down my walls/barriers/facade
- Lets me cry
- Takes my focus off of thoughts & feelings
- Gives me new perspectives
I am thankful for pain.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2013
I’ve been listening to God lately. It’s an interesting thing.
I’ve been growing in my faith lately. A lot. It’s strange to me but quite welcome. I’m having a lot of memory problems and other issues so I don’t remember if I told you or not. Last week I watched this sermon online and it struck a chord – Family of Origin Part 5: The Lost Child. I’ve been attending The Rock Church sporadically and hadn’t been in a few weeks so I decided to watch online. It was just what I needed and it talked about something I hadn’t thought about in awhile – the still small voice.
I hear that voice a lot. The still small voice that tells me what to do. I hear it more lately. No, I think I just trust it more lately. It tells me things and I do what it says. I’m never sure why I’m supposed to do these things or go these places on instruction, but there’s always a reason. I find myself in the right place at the right time, even though it was exactly the wrong place to me and I’m often upset about being there. The voice tells me where to go and what to say and whom to say it to, or not to. It redirects my path when I’m straying in a different direction, creates anxiety when I’m headed away or tells me to stay through the anxiety when I’m not supposed to go. Or to give or to compliment or to pray.
I am at once comforted and confused by this voice. The still small voice of God. I am comforted because I trust it and believe I should do what it tells me. I feel I have a companion, like intuition or a gut instinct that’s always right. But I’m confused and sometimes I doubt. Not because I don’t believe or I think it’s wrong but because doing what voices in my head tell me to hasn’t always turned out alright. It gets really scary sometimes and I end up in dangerous situations or do risky things. Or I give away all my money or run away or in some other way harm myself. I want to listen and obey this voice in my head that sometimes tells me to do things I don’t understand but that don’t seem bad, but I have a hard time trusting that He’s not one of “them.” The them that are out to get me, who tell me things in my head. Who scream at me and haunt me in the night. Who make me believe bad things and hurt myself. How do I know the still small voice is safe?
I guess the answer is that I don’t. I have to take it on faith. It’s just hard trying to tease out mental illness from religion when they’re so closely tied together. When God or experiences with God are such a part of my illness, or what society calls illness, it’s hard to know what’s real. I believe that when I am manic I’m not delusional, just closer to God, more able to experience Him and His presence. Somewhat of a spiritual emergency. When I’m experiencing weird spiritual things I have a choice to categorize them as spiritual experiences or psychiatric symptoms and how I define them determines the course of action. But what I’m hearing lately I don’t consider either. I just hear the voice of God. I listen for it. And I’m surprised because I follow it about 90% of the time.
I’m listening to God. I feel peace. In the midst of chaos and crises and illness, I feel peace and assurance. I seek to raise others up, to show love. I’m becoming a better me. Listening to God, letting Him work through me.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2012
Wow. The trolley chronicles raw data is shocking tonight… And refreshing. :)
I sang with Sacha tonight. I didn’t want to. It was so wonderful. Like a drug I have missed so much. People loved it. I was trembling, but I loved it too. I felt like me. I miss feeling like me.
She asked why I don’t go back to theater or singing now, to be on Broadway. (sigh) It’s such a tough question. There are the logistics, but I think it’s more about faith. I don’t always believe. I’ve seen the castle crash down so many times that I don’t believe. Stuck in a dream between what I could and can do, held back by the fear of what I can’t and won’t.
I open my mouth to breathe so my face doesn’t explode. The last show I did was at the La Jolla Stage Company. I was not cast. I was an addition, choreographer needed help. I couldn’t think, was fresh out of Cog, had a job. I had gained weight and I wasn’t me. And the show was a nightmare. I walked away knowing I was done. I felt shame.
In the past 9 years I have been hospitalized 8 times, spent 24 weeks in Cog, 8 weeks in DBT, 9 months at Scripps. Now that my mind is mostly under control, my body and brain are failing me. I don’t have the energy to dance very much. I don’t remember things. Some days I can’t move. And the days in between are quite a ride. How does one do a show without dancing a lot, memorizing lines and being healthy enough to show up – not to mention able to get to rehearsal? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I’m sorry for leaving for awhile. Thank you for singing my song. It’s very special to me. I sang it to my dad at his nursing home in the 4th grade. People rarely sing it and it always makes me cry. And I don’t like crying in public so I retreated to the bathroom for awhile. I wrote through a series of flashbacks. I thought I was okay but cried some more in the lobby. I’m scared. And I need a dad.
The trolley ride was amazing tonight. I spent most of it listening to and bantering with a guy who just got out of jail. He had tattoos everywhere. One side of his head said, “Don’t fuck with my head and I won’t think with my dick.” His right temple said “Ass-Hole.” I asked why and he said because he can be one.
It was a lot of talk about jail and ghetto drama and life. Some of it was pretty ridiculous, but he shocked me at the end. He was telling me about how he had built his life up from nothing after 6 years in jail for something he didn’t do and now that he’s lost everything again he’s not scared because he knows he can do it again. All he wants is to see his twins born. I admire this man. He is a lesson in adversity. (shift)
I feel very tired and sound is bothering me. I’m hungry for tater tots. I should go to sleep. I need –
I’m sorry I let go. I really had to pee.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2010
I feel peaceful tonight, calm. (big smile) Listening to worship music on YouTube.
I was thinking about Tick Tick Tick today. The ending was missing something. On the end it should say, “So let’s play.” I’m not waiting for anything. If today is what I have, I’m gonna have fun. And I think you should too. Let it rain. Feel the drops on your face and smile. (rocking but happy)
Tonight is a haze. My body hurts but I’m happy. I feel free. I don’t know or care why. I feel like something big is about to happen that God’s been preparing me for. I don’t know what, good or bad, or why. I just know that it’s coming and whatever it is He’s got my back.
I am so grateful for what He’s given me. For my unique perspective. And for the ability to see that it’s time to play. Writing last night about illness and death somehow made me happy. It peaks my anxiety, but it’s like letting go of what isn’t and grabbing on to what is. And I like what is, even if it isn’t perfect.
(wave of nausea and trouble breathing… yawn.)
I can’t speak for tomorrow, but tonight I love and accept myself. It’s like a big warm hug from God. :)
It feels like I’m standing in the ocean and my emotions are changed with each passing wave… but the waves aren’t knocking me down.
It’s time to say goodnight… It’s time to say goodnight… It’s time to say goodnight (goodnight). It’s time to say goodnight… It’s time to say goodnight… (repeat until sleeping ;) )
© Michelle Routhieaux 2010
Have your way, God. You always do.