I am going to be a nurse.

This statement may seem a little obvious, considering I am currently in nursing school. To me, though, it is very significant. I have never been in a place where I truly believed this. Now, here I am, nearly a month into the semester and that statement couldn’t be truer.

I want to focus a little bit on the times I doubted myself so much, since it tells the story of  where I came from. As is with many areas of my life, mental illness has greatly affected the possibility of me becoming a nurse along with decreasing my confidence that I ever could reach my dream. I have been in that dark place for much of my college career. I wondered if it was even worth trying when I saw little hope for anything, especially myself becoming anything worthwhile. My mind constantly plays tricks on me with the distorted thinking. It may be more difficult to reach my dreams, but that doesn’t mean impossible or that I am wrong for the job. In general being sick has brought low motivation, a lack of caring about what happens to me, isolation, and my life as a whole unraveling. I become a sad shell of a person when I’m far into my illnesses.

Another major contributor to doubting is my academic performance. I’ve had struggles three out of four semesters at Calvin. Fall 2015 ended in me leaving early for residential, spring 2016 was actually pretty good, fall 2016 brought plenty of hard times but ended up better than it could have been, and spring 2017 nearly disqualified me from staying in the nursing program since my GPA was so low. I never ever had a hard time in school until my ED became more severe. I never imagined I would be that person who was okay with C’s because anything was better than actually failing. Sadly, that has been my life the past couple years, especially this past spring. It’s hard to believe I managed to pull this all off.

I’m beyond thankful that I’ve fought so hard to get into nursing. I have persevered through it all. In a way, I think this struggle has made me stronger. There is nothing I want more than being able to say I made it as a nurse. In less than 2 years that will be my reality. I don’t think I have had so much hope for the future as I do now.

I want to end this with evaluating how different aspects of who I am will play into learning how to be the best nurse possible. I have plenty that has to change but also so many traits that will help in nursing. I want to be able to look back at this list and see how much I’ve grown.

 

Strengths

  • my experience as a patient will allow me to better understand what patients are going through
  • I am compassionate and truly care
  • my faith allows me to carry hope and see the good in others
  • I love learning
  • my medical knowledge and interest in all things medical
  • I want to be the person that others can come to and lean on in hard times
  • medical math and terminology knowledge

Things I need to work on

  • my extreme fear and avoidance of vomit at all costs
  • I am still pretty shy
  • I tend to feel awkward in different situations
  • I have to practice therapeutic communication, namely slowing down and taking in what the other person is saying v feeling rushed
  • overall, just a TON to learn, but that’s okay!

I’ll probably continue to update this as I think of new things^^

 

 

The Future…

Ever since I’ve become stronger in my recovery and feel the need to live, I have thought more and more about the future. I have goals and dreams I never thought possible. Nearly every plan would be squashed by the eating disorder before. I honestly didn’t have many things I am meant to do that I felt I would be able to accomplish. I no longer need to plan everything around my eating disorder, but can reach for all life has to offer me.

I have had strong prompting about the future. God is directing me down paths I could never imagine. I have and will continue to pray over these things, of course, but I hope to listen to them all as I move forward. Some are rather scary and seem very overwhelming now. Many instances I’ve opened my heart to things that were once a “no way.” I trust that God will make a way and calm my fears. Hopes/dreams/promptings lately:

  • I want to get married. Ever since being so mistreated by my ex-boyfriend of 3.5 years I vowed to never marry. It didn’t seem right for me and the fear that I was unlovable and would only be abused paralyzed me. Suddenly I realized I really DO want a life partner and best friend. I truly don’t want to be a single mom and not be able to give my children the attention they deserve. I was planning on that because I want children more than anything and would do it alone. God has opened my heart to marriage and love, partly through a conversation with a friend at work. I trust that I will find a Godly man who will be exactly what I believed I never deserved.
  • I am going to York. Last April, I discovered a study abroad program to York, England through my school. It is held during spring semester. I had been very disappointed in myself with being held back one more year until nursing when I found the opportunity. Immediately I knew this was why I didn’t fast track to start nursing classes. I will probably write another post on it soon, but for now I’ll just end with how blessed I am. I would never be able to do this without the grace of God and recovery.
  • I will write a book (maybe 2 or 3, who knows!). I have a love for writing. My first story, and not the picture book kind, was written in 5th grade. Since then I have had countless ideas turn into drafts turn into chapters. Blogging has also been a way to write in the everyday sense v working on one thing for months. I’m not sure what type of book I will create, but I’m thinking either a spin on the memoir format, fiction based on what I have gone through, maybe even some sort of devotional. Either way I know that whatever I write will be exactly what I need to.
  • Adoption. Joni and Friends was going on at work for the last 2 weeks. The camp brings together those with special needs (physical, mental, emotional, etc) and their families. I have had some thoughts about adoption, and specifically special needs adoption for around two years. I read about an organization that helps place these children from other countries with families. I was horrified and so saddened by the way they are treated simply for having a disability, but that was it. Adoption has been more on my mind in general lately. I believe that God used Joni and Friends to show me that adoption doesn’t have to be for a perfect, healthy baby. These parents that I’ve seen are so strong and do everything for their children. The kids, no matter how “imperfect” or “unwanted” by society’s standards are loved, happy, and thriving. I saw plenty of the hard times too, of course, but regardless it has changed me. I’ve had recurrent dreams about my future daughter, a little girl who happens to have Down syndrome. I realize that is only a dream and reality may be much different and there are so many extenuating circumstances. That doesn’t change how strongly I feel about adopting a child with Down syndrome. I want to be a mother who can change my child’s life with love and opportunities where despair would have been. I pray that God will let that happen.
  • I will share my testimony/story. I’ve done plenty of sharing online, and even somewhat in person. This is something I love and is helping me (hopefully others too). While it is huge that I’m able to be open and honest with my struggles, this now seems pretty easy. I don’t like easy. I want to talk to others about it, but not in the way I have been. Previously, other than really just two people, I have shared about my ED when it was necessary. I told my roommate and RA mostly to have some accountability and warn them. It felt like there is something wrong with me that is a burden to others. I’m in a different place now and even though I do struggle and will in the future, I want to do this in a more positive way. I am in the process of writing my testimony and have rewritten my story. That is what I want to share with people. Here I am, here is what I came from, here is what I’ve gone through, here is what I am working on, here is where I am going to be one day. I have one dear friend in particular I plan on telling soon, and I am nervous and excited. One day, somehow I will do this on a stage or in front of a group. I will not be a burden but living proof that you can overcome.
  • Medical missions. At some point in my life I want to bring my skills as a nurse to a place that is in need. We are Jesus’ hands and feet. Serving others and bringing them healing is what I am called to do. I want to extend that out from where I will serve in a hospital and into an area with little medical care.

Sometimes I feel like Alice…

Sometimes I feel like Alice
In a wonderland chasing rabbits
Cheshire cats and mad hatters
A better world well it don’t really matter

Well day breaks and life is as dark as the room
The air is laced with sweet perfume
What is it about morning light
That makes everything feel alright

Alright

Well it feels like I have just woke up
In a world where down is up
And up is a long way from here
In the big wheels where they keep on turning
They don’t slow down they just keep on learning

Well my name’s not Alice but I know how she felt
When her world started turning into something else

Sometimes I feel Alice
In the Queen’s alluring palace
Got the playing cards on my track
Like a twisted game of blackjack

Because it feels like I have just woke up
In a world where down is up
And up is a long way from here
In the big wheels where they keep on turning
They don’t slow down they just keep on learning

Well my name’s not Alice but I know how she felt
When her world started turning into something else

Well sometimes I feel like Alice

Oh my name’s not Alice but I know how she felt
When her world started turning into something else

No my name’s not Alice but I know how she felt
When her world started turning into something else

Well it feels like I have just woke up
In a world where down is up
And up is a long way from here…

Lisa Mitchell – “Alice”


If you ever wondered what song I listened to at least 10 times a day (no exaggeration!) last year this time, your answer would be “Alice” by Lisa Mitchell. I played it a few times on the ~45 minute ride to FV each morning and again on the way back, when I got home, basically constantly. I was obsessed. I felt there couldn’t be a song that better captured how I felt about being pushed into the new world that is eating disorder treatment. I still believe it accurately described my feelings at the time, but I now have hit a new point in my life that encompasses the song even more: my college transition.

My life is turning upside down. I am moving out of my home I’ve lived in for 17 years. I’ll be at a college where I’ve made one friend so far (who may decide not to talk to me next fall anyways). I am getting a new therapist who I haven’t even met. I most likely will acquire a dietitian, psychiatrist, and MD once I arrive at Calvin, none of which have really been a part of my treatment before. I will be eating in a cafeteria with hundreds of people surrounding me instead of the three max I have now. My college classes will be way more challenging academically than community was. I have to be an adult and do everything for myself. I will be 35 miles away from my family. My faith will be stretched.

Life for me is about to be change in countless ways. They aren’t all bad or anything, but I still fear the future something fierce. There are so many unknowns and its scary. I never thought I’d reach a time where something would be harder and more terrifying than treatment, but this next transition is. I am going down a rabbit hole, just like Alice. I don’t have a clue what lies ahead. I won’t know until I’m experiencing and (hopefully) working through this next year. What makes this hard than treatment is that there aren’t fixed rules on how things can and can’t go. If I didn’t finish a meal, I would be offered an ensure. Too many failed meals and ensures? Off to inpatient I’d go. Put one thing in and I could easily predict the outcome.

There are so many more variables in college. What if I mix together feeling alone with bad grades and stress? Would I go into relapse, have a breakdown, or maybe continue as normal? What if something worse happens? There are too many “what ifs.” I know, because I’ve been attempting to go through each and every one in my mind. Maybe that’s part of my problem.

The one possibility I don’t give much thought, though, is what if I am able to take this upside-down-turned world and make it okay, even good? What if this next season of my life, however difficult and scary, is going to change me into the person I’m meant to be? What if all of this, the uncertainty and pain and fear included, is a part of God’s glorious plan for my life? What if?

Regardless of what anything in the fall will hold, I’m going to keep having this song on repeat. Maybe it’ll remind me that my world and life could use some more turning around, just as i needed FV.

Blind Faith

Blind: unable to see.

Faith: confidence or trust in a person or thing.

Together, blind faith means complete trusting in God’s plan when I cannot see the end. I’ve struggled with this a ton lately, but I am wholeheartedly giving up control. I’ve tried and failed time and time again. I simply cannot control my future, or at least not in any way that will end well. God has been waiting for me, a glorious plan in His hand, and I’m finally ready to let Him take the lead.

What will this mean when it comes to my life? In one word: peace. My worry and anxiety has gone down so much. I’m not spending hours a day wondering what bad things may happen. I am learning to “not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matt 6:34). I realize that things will happen in the future and they may not all be pleasant, but also that worrying now does no good for me. Even if there’s pain and discomfort, I will get through and learn something from it. God has a higher purpose than I will ever be able to grasp.

This huge shift and revival of my faith in God has already led to some decisions/changes in thinking that I am incredibly happy with. Firstly, I am going to NTS camp as a leader. I promised them I would and they’ve been so excited about ME leading them. Regardless of what uncertainty the future holds about me helping with youth group next year or not, this experience won’t be pointless. I know God will grow and challenge our relationship with Him and each other during that week and after. I am ready to lead and learn.

Next fall has brought nothing but fear the last few months. I have had doubts about my major, whether I should even go to college, how I would ever make friends, and more. I got to a point where I couldn’t even trust God could make the situation good. I spent a lot of time in prayer and He’s come through with some pretty straightforward answers for me. He’s shown me again and again that Calvin is where I belong. Even more, nursing is the right choice. That alone didn’t completely cement my anxieties but God continued to change that this week. Katie at work has been a huge blessing when it comes to anything surrounding living at college and making friends. She had no problem there and is a lot like me (a  tad socially awkward and not a lot of friends in high school) so my anxieties there are at a normal level. In so many other ways I’ve gained complete peace with all of my decisions with Calvin. I will have support there and nearby, including getting connected to counseling staff before moving in. I can still minister to others as a nurse and the career truly fits my strengths well. I am going to love being challenged academically and being in a Christian environment, a combination Calvin uniquely provides me. Overall, God has proven and continues to show me that next fall will be okay.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had mental health issues. I have negative behaviors and thought patterns that started when I was a child. It’s so easy for me to fall into hopelessness. That’s exactly where I was the past few weeks. Because I’ve never experience complete freedom from all these things before, I believed God couldn’t do it. I thought that I would be miserable forever. I am just beginning to trust that what I’m going through isn’t making my life terrible. I will grow from this somehow. I have no idea what good can come from this pain, but that’s because only God knows. All I do know is that if I build my foundation of recovery on Him I will get better. It might not be the pace I want but healing is going to come for me. Even if I never live a day without disordered thoughts in my life I am willing to fight past them each day to let God work through me. Depression, anxiety, BPD, and anorexia have NOTHING on God.

I have a long way to go on all of this. I’m not a perfect Christian and I certainly don’t have it all together. I’m not focused on being perfect though, that’s God’s job. Instead, I am spending more time in prayer, worship, and His word. The more I give up to Him the better I feel. He will take care of me and has a future bigger than I could ever imagine. I am not worthless or hopeless, but excited to see God’s plan unfold in my life. I am ready to blindly let Him lead.

I know what to do

This has literally nothing to do with my recovery or anything else, but it is so important to me nonetheless.

I have prayed (and prayed and prayed and prayed…) for guidance when it comes to all the decisions I have to make regarding my major, transfer school, and future career. It hasn’t been easy at all. I have gone back and forth more times than I can count. I’ve fallen into times where I wanted to please my parents so much that I would do a job I don’t really see myself in. I decided to take a few weeks off and not make any decisions and tonight I finally have figured it out.

Nursing was my very first dream. I have always loved medicine (I’ve been addicted to all medical shows since I was maybe 7) but as I grew older I never imagined being the doctor. My time in a children’s hospital solidified y choice: I wanted to be like the nurses who took care of me. Due to my academic ability I was always pushed to choose a “better” profession. That along with some other things led to me changing my mind so many times. Now I am right back where I started. I know that nursing is the right choice.

Coming to this decision tonight was not expected at all. I have definitely been leaning more towards nursing lately but today I decided I would research it a little. I went form being unsure to falling in love. I read so many stories of nursing and what an amazing field it is. Specifically, my absolute dream would be to work in a NICU. I also read up on that specialty and was moved to tears. I know this is where God wants me to be.

My ultimate dream is to work at the hospital I was in all those years ago. I want to change lives just like the nurses did for me. It definitely depends on what all happens, but I am pretty set in my plan. I so wish there were a way to attend GBC. It makes me sick to my stomach knowing that isn’t going to be the case. I am learning to love Calvin though. It truly is the better school when it comes to academics and reaching my goals. I would have more jobs options because it’s so well known and I have no doubt that I would get where I want to be. After working for a few years I plan on completing a MSN program to become a neonatal nurse practitioner, but this may change depending on how everything goes. Really the important things is that I know what school and major I am called to. God will take care of everything else.

I feel at peace and so good about this.

Disappointment

I’ve been dreading this conversation for a long time, but I finally talked to my parents about my career path and also a little on college choices.

A little background first. I am that student that gets A’s like it’s my job and always pushes herself more and more. For a long time I’ve wanted to go into medicine, mostly because it was just expected. Why would I ever do anything different since I’m so smart. For a long time I’ve been thinking, and I’m really starting to consider if medicine is even right for me. I honestly can’t picture myself being in such a sterile career. Also, it is a huge commitment timewise and I value being a mother someday so it would be difficult to do both.

I want more of a personal relationship with people in my career. I want to change lives in more ways than keeping someone from dying or curing cancer. I believe God has more in store for me than that. I’m not 100% sure what that other career would be. I’ve considered social work or psychology (and switched my major to it last year) and I honestly love it. I could see myself helping others who are going through some things I’ve experienced. I have this yearning to help girls with eating disorders especially. I’ve thought about working at an inpatient place for it even. This type of work is so what my heart wants. I’ve even begun to consider possibly becoming a dietician and while I’m not so sure how I like it, it does seem okay too.

The dilemma that I’m currently experiencing is my parents and others who want the prestigious type of work for me. My parents get mad any time I mention GBC because its “just” a bible college. They don’t want me anywhere that doesn’t meet their standards. Unfortunately this also extends to careers. My dad actually told me it would be a waste for me to become a dietician or something like a psychologist.

My worst fear is that I will make a choice as far as careers or schools go that will dissapoint my parents. Its not really that I want to impress them but that I so badly want them to be proud of me. I know that while they say its my life and my choice they won’t treat me the same if I went to GBC and became a social worker as if I went to Calvin and became a doctor. It really sucks because I don’t want to let them down or be stuck in a career I wouldn’t have chosen for myself.

I’m so confused right now with where I want to go and what career. I am spending time in prayer over it because I need the guidance. I know God has it planned out but I can’t see what that plan is yet. I want to be able to be used in a field that works best for me and go to the college that will grow me spiritually and in knowledge.

If I had to say right now and my parents and anyone else’s opinions were out of the picture, I 1000% would choose GBC. I’m definitely leaning more towards human services for a major but I also could go pre dietician or maybe something else. I have a whole lot more certainty with my school vs career.

I know that my parents would never understand their “genius” daughter going to a school that *gasp* isn’t super strong in academics. They wouldn’t get how I could serve God in any way that doesn’t look awesome on paper and involve a MD or PA after my name. I think I have to get to a point where I can realize these views will never change and that my opinion and my gifts are not dependent on other’s opinions before I can really choose my career and college. This isn’t going to be an easy next few months while all the decision making takes place.

Week Update

It’s been a pretty long week but I am feeling better. I’m not exactly sure why but I’m definitely happy about it. Good things that happened this week:
     – First high school and middle school youth groups went really well. I am loving that I am able yo do God’s work.
     – My meeting with Jenny went well. Her therapy style is amazing and I think she is great for me.
     – I ate lunch with Erin both days this week and it was fun talking to her about the future. I didn’t hesitate to finish my lunches 🙂
     – I figured out my top five transfer schools and major!!! I am going to major in nursing and possibly psychology too. Colleges I’m applying to are Wayne State University, University of Michigan, University of Kentucky, University of Pennsylvania, and Boston College. All of them are very good nursing schools and looking into them is so exciting! I actually have something to work towards and I feel positive!
     – My eating has been really good this week! I have been able to push through the thoughts for the most part. It feels easier now and I hope it keeps looking up. I want to leave Ed behind so I can live my life!