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New Blog Post By Emily Braun – May 29, 2018

juliegomez : May 29, 2018 8:04 am : Blog

A New Normal- Don’t Just Watch the Boxes Burst

In a moment, we feel boxed in. Hands on the ceiling and we are kicking at the seams, trying to get one small breathe of air. It seems as if oxygen is allergic to us. The mind begs, whirling thoughts into one thousand different directions while the tongue spits out an alter ego and the body only wander to things that seem to feel good. What feels best in that moment may not be so good in the next— for the victim or the witness because flight is the favored choice over fight. Asses and ask, “If this is now, what’s next.” Each person who’s ever walked the planet has struggled with something. Wouldn’t that make struggle normal? It appears drugs are normal, alcohol is normal, bullying is normal, and in some ungodly way, school shooting became normal. This doesn’t seem to make much of good sense. To add reference, according to CNN news, there have been 288 school shootings in the United States of America since 2009.

Wasn’t this supposed to be a free country? Under God, the truth shall set you free. Why are we being held at gun point? Lack of emotional attention. What are the actual triggers of this mass destruction? It’s the load on the mind, leading to dark impulsive decisions that, again, only seem to feel good. This is an extreme matter, but this extreme matter is sadly becoming more common. Instead of skimming the surface of outbursts in the world, specifically in this country right now, the foundation of destructive decisions needs to be investigated. I believe that the root of some, maybe most, destructive decisions could stem from mental illness. This includes: genetic influences and chemical imbalances, sadness, loneliness, fear, change, anger, loss of self or another, and behavioral and cognitive matters. This darkness can be changed with the flip of one switch—the flip to accept, understand, and learn about people and mental illness, realizing that mental illness is just as hindering as a broken leg or diabetes. It’s real, chronic or acute, people are facing depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia, etc. If non-mental health victims of the world could take a deep breath of acceptance and understanding of emotion, those ill could take a deep breath of hope. And that deep breath of hope could lead to one less detrimental burst of emotion because the illness victim couldn’t find someone to lean on or confide in when they couldn’t even wrap their head around their own situation. That outburst could have been a suicidal act, alcohol poisoning, an overdose, or a school shooting. These major actions reflect on major problems, generally internal. It’s the inability to cope in various aspects. The first step of coping is talking. The world needs to understand it’s okay not to be okay because we are human, and nobody is perfect. Sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. If we take one small step towards someone’s mental illness box or bubble that they are trapped in, I guarantee the bursting rate drops.

Now just as it is hard for others to accept and talk about mental illness, those struggling have a tough time believing their problem. It’s the same with addiction, for you can’t just give up treatment. The key issue in self-acceptance of an illness is societal rejection. Those struggling don’t want to be deemed the stereotypical normality of mental illness: crazy, disturbed, unworthy, incapable. Mental illness is not a very good norm, but it’s prominent in this world, the free America. It could just be what’s holding the gun. So, let’s learn about it, talk about it, and make saving people from it the new normal. Being emotional is hard, but being emotional and compassionate, willing to fight not flight in all aspects of the human connection— to be successful at a job, to maintain relationships, to do well in school, to master a sport, to recover from an injury, to be a better follower in religion, to fight off cancer, to stop bullying, to save lives, to maintain mental illness is necessary.

Struggle is normal. Help should be, too.

Note: I am not saving mental illness is the root of all destruction, but based on intensity, it can be an influencer. This is not a reason to be more afraid. I hope this relation makes the issue more relative and shows how much attention it needs and deserves.

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New Blog Post By Emily Braun – April 3, 2018

juliegomez : April 3, 2018 5:45 am : Blog

Be Patient and Have Faith

Be patient and have faith. It’s hard, I know, but change will come. The battle has already been won and knowing that was my ultimate ticket to recovery. My conqueror, my savior in the moments I felt the darkness close in on my body and agonizing mental and physical pain shut off my grasp of reality was the Lord and will continue to be. This is not me forcing religion on you, but a testimony to have faith in something because if you don’t, no wonder you don’t feel like moving on. I do encourage you readers, however, to meet Jesus Christ and find your faith in Him. This is the depth of my story and what ultimately saved my life. Luckily, I never had a note or a plan, but the voice in my head saying, “it’s not worth it,” “what’s the point,” “I don’t want this life anymore,” was enough to send my mind to hell before my body was in the grave. In the summer of 2017, I felt like I had already died because I had given up on the one that will always be ALIVE, Jesus. When destruction of the mind consumes your life it’s so easy to give up on all things. I grew up in a church, knowing to pray when things got tough and trusting God as my creator and guide for life. “God, where are you,” I asked. “God, save me,” I begged. “Are you even real,” I yelled. I came to realize that God never lost me, but during my downward spiral, my faith got blown away. I wasn’t myself and that became clear to me when I was taken to the Western Psychiatric Unit of Pittsburgh to possibly be admitted. Walking through metal detectors and being starred at like I was dangerous or crazy made me feel nauseous. I knew I didn’t belong there; I knew I could try harder. I was embarrassed to feel and seem so low and was determined not to stay. My last ounces of power and courage spilled in my tears as I became angry at myself for giving up in the weeks leading up to this. I believe that a drastic change in antidepressants set me over the edge and into a chemical imbalance triggering some over my worst emotional episodes, but I was also at fault for losing hope. It’s so easy to do when all you come to know is darkness. That day, I got to leave the hospital with my family, and the upcoming Sunday I made plans to attend The Experience Church in Bridgeport, Ohio with a friend. The church was in their first week of the series “Jesus is…” I’ll be honest my heart wasn’t super touched at the time because I guess I was craving and feeling a need for a deeper message. The series started with “Jesus is a Servant.” Now, I look back to see that I was meant to be there that day because my reconnection to The Lord was to serve him and to trust that he was there, to start being a better Christian, and believe that He will save me. The next week I went back to church, learning that “Jesus is a Leader.” I was hooked on the track that he was going to guide me back to the light. When people say, “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” it’s His light! The next week “Jesus is a Friend.” I learned how to talk to him, how to praise and pray. And week four showed me that “Jesus is a Second Chance.” On August 26, my life changed forever. Everything I had been experiencing over the past year and a half—from an eating disorder, to four concussions, to chronic pain, depression, and PTSD poured out of me and into my act of worship as we sang our battle cries to our Lord and Savior. During that service, I cried and cried, pouring my heart and sin into his glory as he picked up my sorrows and renewed my life. It was the first time I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Pastor Tim asked us to bow our heads and in a very personal moment between us and God to raise our hand and give ourselves to Him if we felt ready. I was more willing than ever to throw the devil of my life’s turmoil off my back. It was a promise that I’ve kept, showing up at church weekly and experiencing new beginnings and connections with the Lord to fuel my recovery further. I’m not going to say I’m perfect. I’ll always be a sinner and experience trial; however, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t need my Savior. My faith has only grown as I study the bible, talk, and write about it enthusiastically, encouraging others to look to Him in everything they do. He gave me a true purpose and showed me the goodness of life because His Word is so good and righteous. I’m excited to keep going since I was blessed with a second chance at life. My favorite Christian song verse is “but if it’s true, you use broken things then here I am lord I’m all yours.” I aspire to use the broken chapters of my life story to help others in their times of struggle, especially mental illness struggles in adolescents. Don’t let your brokenness consume who you are. Find hope. You can feel whole again. It’s hard to believe when you can’t see, but if you look close enough, God will always be there. He saves people. I am proof. Enter his realm, be patient, and have faith. The best is yet to come!

Again, this is not to force religion on anyone, but an encouragement to open your heart and find something to believe in when you feel lost. I found Him, will you?

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New Blog Post By Emily Braun – March 22, 2018

juliegomez : March 22, 2018 2:06 pm : Blog

When the days seem long, and the nights are restless, the mind aches for distraction or escape while the body aches from mental brutality or physical pain. Curbing the craving of a getaway is common and vital to do wisely. I understand what it’s like to look at the mirror and need a vacation or be in pain and just want to be lifted out of the body or think too much and want to punch a wall. Eventually, whether pain started mental or not, it ends up getting to your thoughts and you need to escape. Often the pain inflicted on the mind can spiral all the way down to suicidal thoughts. No kids, death is not the answer. Not all people may believe in the same way that man and woman appeared on the planet, but we are all here now—here and able to create and fulfill purpose. Mental illness can take away any willful and futuristic determination to fulfill any purpose. Many ask, “What’s the point? Why me? Why be on the planet if I’m not happy?” No one ever said we couldn’t be happy. Our brains just decided to make it a little harder than others without mental illness. I guess that makes our skin a little tougher, too. However, no two people are alike. This means two people’s mental illnesses may not be exactly alike or treated the same way, so find YOUR specific happy and healthy place. It may take a while to find out what truly works to ease or distract the mind in the moments of wishing to give it all up. Remember though, you don’t want to give away your whole life. You just want to rid the pain. It’s possible—baby steps. We are all wearing different shoes. We can do our best to step into each other’s shoes, but sometimes the understanding and success in making them feel better lacks. Time and ability to create personal happiness and peace is essential for all. Let me take you on a poetic vacation to my happy place of writing. Hopefully this gives more insight on the importance of healthy escapism at a personal level.

Escape by: Emily Braun

Lifted.

Free.

Safe.

The emergency exit

That sings a soft triumphant glow

As every aching bruise suddenly heals.

Temporary—

Like a tattoo

Because some punches

Purple, black, or blue

Are permanent,

Cutting deeper

Than the average corner parlor.

It’s a maze of the mind

That nobody else can get to.

I am separated by pain

But sorrow isn’t always so sinister.

Sometimes it’s your closest friend

Or should I say most present, most apparent

Because I’m consumed by scars.

 

The red lights are flashing

There are sirens in my head,

But each of our colors are so different.

I’m the only one able to mute it.

I’m the only one able to hear it.

 

Get ready in your jumpsuit

And I in mine.

There’s no room for two.

Graciously,

We can reach out our hands

Grab on to one another.

I’ll be your shoulder to cry on,

But sometimes there’s only one

Safe place.

 

I know what you’re thinking.

This is not a suicide note.

The devil is tormenting you,

Yet God is not ready for you.

 

When the band-aids

Are wrinkled and dirty

And the makeup fades away

From the bruises

Hit escape.

EMERGENCY EXIT.

It’s okay.

Right now,

I need me and

You need you.

 

My savior in my hand

Jesus Christ in pencil format

With musical melodies

Drowning out the monsters

Of my mind.

I’m standing

At the front of a room

All eyes on me

And because I’m not playing the role

Of the girl with a headache

And a heartsore

a hot sense of humor

with a handful of white roses,

I can be at peace.

 

For moments at a time

I can release the pressure

As other people walk by

Living as if problems don’t exist

And heaven is their hometown.

 

Finally, I am home.

It’s the out of body experience

That doesn’t need a worldwide epidemic

Since I didn’t use

A needle

A noose

A note.

 

There’s more to me than pain.

This is my magic power.

I can be a firefighter, advocate, or preacher,

Putting out the fire in my head

Not the fire in my eyes.

 

In a moment more,

The world turns back on.

I reapply the makeup

As the bruises reappear.

I step into my tired eyes

And fear studded stilettos.

I put my notebook in my pocket.

Sometimes I want to write a love note

That I’m too oxygen less to read aloud

Or a death temptation that I keep

From slipping off my tongue.

 

I’ve seen hope first hand.

It’s called a better place,

My safe place.

We all have one—

A reachable, reasonable, no- one- left- behind,

Kind of place

Where sun shines

And the body feels noticed in endless happiness.

An out of body experience

Because sometimes it’s hard being me.

You wouldn’t know my story.

You’re busy trying to be you.

You can read it all you’d like.

I’m willing to trade books a while,

But it’ll come time

To hit the escape button—

Escape pod activated,

Emergency exit found.

Peace be with you

Boys and girls.

You can breathe now.

Out of your aching body,

Your soul feels home.

Honey, Emily dear,

This is the real you,

This is your happy place.

You’re home.

Whether it be walking, sipping coffee with friends, reading a book, painting, exercising, doing science experiments, or watching a ballgame, find a happy place that works for you. You’ll be one step closer to loving your life, loving you. Your mental illness is not who you are.

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New Blog Post by Emily Braun – March 14th, 2018

juliegomez : March 14, 2018 11:40 am : Blog

What’s the point? You’re on a page reading stories of people just like you; people always recovering, overcoming, and praying just like you. What’s the point of reading these if it just makes you think of your tough times—that you may be deemed crazy or different by the harsh world. Well, what’s the point of reading a book if you never learn a lesson? What’s the point of turning the page if there’s nothing left on the other side? What’s the point of moving on if you know every chapter is going to end?

Well I say, do it because one day your story is going to be someone else’s history lesson. You started, you grew, you struggled, you healed, you lived, you remembered, and you can always look back and smile at all that you’ve accomplished. But someone else is going to pick up your book and smile at all the love, lessons, and even losses it has to give.

Mind you, I’m about to share a short tale of my struggle, but it’s only a chapter in my life—my low will never be the whole novel. My mental illness will never consume me, and mental illness should not be consumed in an essence of negativity that so many have portrayed.

To clear some things up, I hate reading actual books, but I love getting to know people. I look at every person on this planet as a book—each filled with vibrant chapters of trial and triumph, lessons to be learned and told, and visions to be painted. The point of you reading right now is to know that you aren’t alone with the obstacles of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, multiple personality disorder, or any case you may have.

The main idea is learning and growing. The theme is faith. So, let me get to the chapter of my life where things started downhill, but this isn’t my story—my life—isn’t over.

My name is Emily Braun. I am a young lady from Wheeling, West Virginia with big dreams and bright eyes just like the next person. These dreams got put on hold and my eyes sagged, wet with tears of trauma when I obtained my fourth concussion in 2016, after receiving two in 2015 and one in 2012. My 2015 concussions sent me through three months of distress and depression. My parents said they didn’t even see their own daughter anymore. I was scared to eat, thinking I’d gain weight and deeply depressed due to the major change in pace and absence of sports.

By the time I was released from the concussions, I had developed a full eating disorder. My body became extremely weak and activities were challenging, but I still saw a “big girl” in the mirror. My realization period was when a softball coach put his hand on my shoulder one day, looked me in the eye and said, “You aren’t well, are you?” I didn’t think my weight loss was that apparent and unhealthy looking.

The next step was therapy and a nutritionist. The summer of 2016 lead to another concussion. I felt as his I was cursed or something, acquiring all of these injuries. It was decided softball was too risky anymore and I had played my last games as the doctors ordered me to cut out at least one sport. After a few days off I thought my head was good to go for volleyball season. I was still weak from lack of weight and nutrition, neck trauma was diagnosed, and headaches had made there way into my life again, but this time they didn’t go away. Volleyball season that year was scary and challenging to keep up. It would have to exit my life too. I knew my career as an athlete was coming to an end and stress to eat was at a high, along with pain.

I slipped into a depressive state and that’s when the first medicine came along. Prozac, to Lexapro, to Cymbalta, and by now it was the summer of 2017 and I was worse than ever. I went through vicious spells of screaming and crying while rolling on the floor and pounding walls. I hated my body and my life style, and I was having daily headaches. I lost belief in God and hope for recovery and I was ready to end my life.

A last- straw fit nudged my therapist to call a family meeting and I’d be taken to the Western Psychiatric Unit of Pittsburgh. Walking through a metal detector and knowing the world would think I’m crazy was a wakeup call. “I am Emily Braun,” I thought. “I was a straight “A” student with the biggest smiles, kindest heart, and an idol to many. I didn’t belong here. This isn’t me.”

Luckily, the hospital didn’t keep me, but I was scared out of my mind and wanted to do something to initiate recovery. The next week, I walked into The Experience Church and found God again. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for the realization the weekend before and walking into that church that day, I wouldn’t be here to type this.

Today I’ve been struggling with a daily headache for the past two years, have diagnosed PTSD from sports, anxiety, and depression, but I am in control. Some days I feel like giving up, but I’m much farther along and hopeful than I was in the summer of 2017.

There are plenty more chapters of my life to come and I’d love to hear some of yours, but remember, it takes the worst to create the best. So, I hope you get the point of reading, listening, and sharing—you are not alone. Your story isn’t over!

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New Blog Post by Devon Sleeth – Overcoming Panic Attacks

: December 18, 2017 1:20 pm : Blog

“Just Do It”

bDevon Sleeth

There is a point in time where you start thinking these things: “Why me?” “This is going to be the rest of my life.” “I’m never going to feel better.” People tell you not to think that way and to be optimistic and think positively, but lets face it, there are days where you have multiple panic attacks and you just want to give up. That’s when these thoughts and feelings make there way to the forefront of your brain. That’s when you feel like everything and everyone in the world is against you. That’s when you feel the most alone. That’s when you start questioning your self worth. That’s when you get angry with God. That’s when you feel like you have no purpose on this Earth because all you are feeling is panic and fear. Guess what? None of that is true. Everyone and everything in the world is with you. You are absolutely not alone. You are made for a specific purpose and are worthy of being alive.

For a really long time, I struggled to get myself out of this dark place. It’s scary to feel trapped there. I’m not saying that I no longer struggle with those thoughts and feelings, because believe me, I do. I just know how to help myself climb out of that deep dark hole. It takes every once of strength in my body to get out of there. I have severe GAD and I am going to live with it for the rest of my life. There is no cure. There is no off switch. There is no brain surgery to remove my anxiety and panic. There are no medications that take it all away. Once you come to that realization, that’s when you start to think, “Okay, what can I do to help myself?”

I have quite a few coping mechanisms that help me. Now, my coping mechanisms are going to be different from others because every person has their own likes and dislikes. For me, a lot of mine involve creativity. I am blessed with a musical brain. I love everything about music (except music theory, all music nerds will understand me on that one). If you stop doing the things that you love, your condition will only get worse. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way. This is something that I struggle with. You might be thinking, “If it’s something that you love to do, why won’t you do it?” That’s a very valid question and I even ask myself that too. It’s hard because sometimes I don’t have the energy. Sometimes I don’t have the motivation. Sometimes I don’t have a reason why. But none of those reasons are a good excuse! If it will help you, just do it. Nike has a really great slogan for their brand. My most cherished and helpful coping mechanism is serving in the worship team at my church. It is my favorite thing to do. My church and the people in it love and support me so much and when I’m praising God through my talents that He gave to me, how much better can it get? It is when I feel my best. I feel like I am meant to be serving in that position. Everyone knows it feels good to feel like you belong. So, find your thing if you haven’t already! And when you don’t feel like doing it, JUST DO IT.

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