Saturday, June 2, 2012

Is it because I'm a girl?

Sometimes I am suddenly overwhelmed with an incredible amount of emotion, usually some form of sadness.
Sometimes it is seemingly unrelated to anything, but I can usually figure out where it stems from.
It hits me like a wave!

To be honest, I love it at the same time that I hate it.
It's difficult to endure, but the intensity of the emotion is so raw and so devastatingly authentic that when it happens, I just lay down, bring my legs into my chest and my arms by my face and dwell on the emotion.
I cry. I laugh. I pray.

I love it.

Is it because I'm a girl, that I am this way? Does anyone else love being deeply emotional?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Poem: Scars

I really enjoy writing. Sometimes I write poems.
(You may have to click on the image to get a closer look and read the words.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

It's Easier to Not Think

I have never gotten along well with shallow people. Their conversation makes me want to die a little bit. So dull, so petty, so vapid. Uhg.

I just realized that I have gotten into the habit of being shallow and vapid recently. Not with other people, but with myself.

It's interesting. I have NO problem telling almost anyone from a perfect stranger to my grandmother anything about myself, skipping no embarrassing details about any part of my life, feelings, or "sufferings". I am so open, that sometimes it actually bothers me. And usually I'm pretty honest with myself, and can figure out emotions and problems I'm dealing with. I'm sort of introspective. Okay, really introspective.

But the past week or two, I have been so distracted by my new found joy and freedom, that I haven't been real with myself about some issues that I have to spend time on and work through. I've just been trying to figure out how I can be more productive, or worrying about how I spend too much time on facebook, watching TV, and now that I am cataract free (praise Jesus forever) I keep thinking about what I should do or where I should go now that I can see again.
I've totally been ignoring the issues that still exist in my heart. I guess I thought they would just go away because things in my life are getting "better". I'm gonna list the ones I can think of right now, so I don't forget them later:
-Take the initiative in friendships/social interactions.
-Go OUT and be with people! You can't just sit at home and continue to be alone just because you're happier now and totally tight with God. It's still not healthy to have no people.
-Let go of the past. Release. Exhale. It's gone forever!
-Continue to be in prayer and the Word daily
-Honor your brothers in Christ with your dress
-Guard your heart guard your heart guard your heart.
-Continue to embrace your deep brokenness. This is key.

Found this as I was going through/deleting old pics today. Love it. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Only Beautiful in Still

Alright, confession time. I don't think I'm beautiful in real life. 
-Let me begin by clarifying. What do I mean when I say "in real life"?
I mean, when I look in the mirror. In the mirror I don't see anything beautiful. I just see Catherine. Very plain, very average, sometimes sort of ugly Catherine.
-Second, why am I writing this in a public blog? No, I am not fishing for compliments. I am not trying to convince people that I am humble about my appearance. Insecurity should not be mistaken for humility. I am writing this, because I have been trying to figure out why on earth I spend so much time looking at pictures of myself. Why do I go through the thousands of photos of myself on facebook at least once a month? Why do I go through folder after folder of "good" pictures of myself on my computer, obsessing over each one? Why do I even have all of these pictures of myself? I just stare at myself, almost like it isn't me. But wait, it is me, and perhaps that is why I am so fascinated. Because to me, in these photos of myself I look different than myself.

So, I have figured out why I stare at my photographed self. I realize why I am obsessed with self-portraits. It is because in these photographs of myself, I think I am beautiful. I like the way I look. Sometimes I even love the way I look. I'm beautiful!

Ever since I was about 10 years old I have thought of myself as ugly. People usually told me otherwise. "Aw, you're so cute." Got that one for years and years. But I never believed it. Not really anyway. They only thought I was cute because I was small. You see, they were just confused by my small stature. For instance, everyone calls newborns (whether human or pup or kitten) cute. But they aren't actually cute. In reality, all newborns are pretty weird looking. Newborns are just really small, so people call them cute. Get it? Well, this is how I saw it. I have been insecure about my appearance for as long as I can remember because of my itchy, red, dry, and bleeding skin. To be honest, I sort of thought I had gotten over it. I mean, I'm 22 years old now. You'd think I would be used to having eczema, tons of scars, and almost constantly irritated skin. But I'm not. I'm still embarrassed. In my head, I still hear that boy saying, "Ew, what's wrong with your face?" I still remember my sibling calling me "gross". Funny how that stuff sticks with you, right?

Anyway. I'm getting carried away with my memories. Point is, for some reason I think I am only beautiful in photographs. In that still, captured moment, the flaws seem to disappear. I can't see them anymore. Crazy stuff. Consider this insecurity and photo obsession added to the list of things I need to work on.

I'm beautiful because He made me so. That's all there is to it. Doesn't matter if I have a body with torn skin and blisters. Humans may not call that beautiful, but since when do I need to believe or listen to what humans call truth or say is so? Since never. Pssh. Crazy humans. Crazy Catherine.    

Friday, April 13, 2012

I hate trying to make plans.

Sometimes I wonder, "What the heck was God thinking when he gave man free will?" I really feel like I don't have the courage, wisdom, or decisiveness to make the decisions I need to make in order to move on from this place. What is next? What do I do, pursue?
I wonder if I should be doing something more right now that will help me get better emotionally and spiritually. Should I be seeing a Christian counselor? Seeking a mentor?
Should I push myself into activities and hobbies that I love so that my mind will be occupied with things other than my own circumstances? I am thinking about joining a dance class, or being a part of community theater.
Should I look for work or service opportunities? At a church? On a ranch? As a photographer? As a cook/nutritional educator? Or just work a regular old job, at a restaurant?
Maybe I should just try and see if I can do ALL of these things, and those that are impossible don't happen, and those that work, I do. Apply for this, register for that, audition for this, plan for that, offer my services there... And just wait and see what happens. Maybe? I guess.
I have to do SOMETHING. I can't just sit here and wait for something to fall into my lap. But it looks like my summer will be spent in San Antonio. That is something I am almost sure of.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Growing Pains: the good kind of hurt.

So much has changed.
It's so hard to feel anything around me - to feel anything stable, like the ground.
Sometimes I think I haven't anything to grasp onto except the truth of my God.
It makes me go crazy at those times when I don't know.
When I don't know anything about what I'm doing with my life, how I'm going to support myself and live.
I don't know anything. Nothing.

I can wish all I want about having a different past, meeting different people, or not dating anyone.
But it doesn't matter, because I can't change anything that has already happened, and hating it doesn't change it either. It only makes it more miserable.

So much has changed in my life within the past couple months, and the past year. So many things undone. And the only thing I know for sure about my future is this: change will continue, and nothing will be predictable. And you know what is even more likely? Disappointment will continue. Life will throw its curve balls and I won't get my way. Only good can come of this, fortunately.

Oh man. Haha, only good can come of these hard times. It's a really painful kind of good, but oh is it good. You wouldn't believe how much I have grown as a person, as a daughter, as a friend, and as a child of God through this last year. During my sickness when I lost hope and passion for life and became depressed in San Antonio, the physical pain and torture of my sickness, and then finally losing my best friend and San Marcos. During these trials I grew so much, through these trials I have learned so much, and I am continuing to learn. My faith and trust in the Lord are tested every - single - day.
Catherine, do you actually believe all those words that have been pouring out of your mouth for years and years? Those empty words that spewed out of your mouth when you were talking your "faith" in God.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind"
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect through your weakness"
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
No Catherine, you never did. You never knew what those words meant, until now. And you are just now realizing what it actually requires to believe. You were a hypocrite. You were the Christian that you have always so despised for leading non-believers astray; living a "luke-warm faith" in the Lord. Pretending to care, but not giving everything up for the cause you say you would die for. But now, now you understand. Now that everything that matter most to you has been taken away, you can see what truly matters. You see that the ONLY thing that matters is God, and spreading the gospel.

Blessed be your name LORD. Now I can see everything so clearly. I will praise you, my God, for the rest of my days. I will praise you, serve you, and love you. If I happen to accomplish anything else that benefits myself and the world around me, then cool. But I know that my life's purpose is not to please my fellow humans or be a part of this world.

Yes, I know nothing about my existence in this world. I may not know how I will earn money and be independent, or if I should marry, or if I will ever heal of my sickness and eat bread again, and I certainly do not know what is smart for me to pursue as a career. But, at least I know what my existence is about in the eternal aspect of things. I only exist for one purpose, and Him alone. And because of that, I can be totally free from fear. What in the world can I be afraid of? I have everything, because I have the Lord as my savior.    

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mmhmm. That's right. Let's look at the journey of healing I have been on. Photos from starting in October of 2011 until now. But this is a journey I have been on since February of 2011. Been very sick for a long time.
Praying that the healing continues! Isn't the progress crazy good?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Time For a New Perspective

Having the right perspective is crucial to being happy and content with our lives. If you're not happy, if you don't like yourself, if you're too critical of everyone around you, and if your expectations are too high for your family and friends, then change your perspective. Unless you like being discontent with everything, then don't. But if you're ready for a change and if you want to be happy, put on some different glasses and view the world and your life in a new light.

It is time for me to get a new perspective on my life. I'm tired of hating myself for the unfortunate circumstances that have taken place in my life. I'm tired of letting other humans have more control over who I am and how I react than I do. Do I get a kick out of being miserable? Am I tickled pink by the fact that I allow the mulitple failed relationships that have happened in my life to define how I view myself, and the worth that I have? No, no. Time to stop playing this stupid game, and maybe you should too if you're like me.

I so desperately desire to view the world and my life differently. I want to have what I call a "heavenly perspective" on my life. I have never considered myself to be a very "wordly person" before because I try not be super materialistic and shallow, but I realized recently that I am SO worldly. But I don't want to be. I am a Follower of Christ, and therefore I am told this:
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect" Romans 12:2
A heavenly perspective. I want to view my life apart from everything physical in this world. I do not want to view myself as being defined by the men who do or do not love me. I want to view myself apart from my physical appearance and how good I look. I want my new perspective to be solely on the Lord  my God, my Father and my King. I want to be so focused on the only thing that truly matters in my life, which is glorifying God and preaching the gospel, that NOTHING else matters very much to me.

I am here on earth in this world to serve God. To glorify Him. To praise Him. To love others like Jesus loved. That's it. I am not entitled to anything else! I'm not living in this world so that I can fall in love, get married, have a happily ever after. I'm not here to make a bunch of money and live a comfortable life full of luxury. I'm not here to be a famous National Geographic photographer. I'm not here to please others.

I don't need anything other than the Lord, and I shouldn't expect anything else. Americans are brought up to believe that we are ENTITLED to so much. "You deserve it!" "You're an American, entitled to the American Dream." Perfect house, perfect car, perfect marriage, perfect health, and perfect appearance.  But that is so very false. So untrue. But because our God is so good, He gives us things that are good and extra. A straight up blessing from the Lord. I don't deserve anything. But he has given me a family who is good, parents with financial stability, friends who love me, a car, shelter, my health, and lots of clothes and shoes. Wow. Thanks! So unnecessary, but so good, and I am grateful.

Try not to worry about your future. Whether you're stressed about not having secured plans for this summer or the fall, or if you're worried about coming years. Don't. It is so unnecessary, and worrying gets you no where. Trust the Lord with your future, and remember what your calling is as a Child of God. Even if you just gain a small view of this heavenly perspective, it will be so helpful and so good. Focus on things of the Lord, heavenly things. Not on things of this world. This world will fail you.
God will not.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pain of the Heart

The unfortunate scene that we behold seems to be muted. Silence fills the room like a heavy smoke that is choking her; threatening the girl from breathing the contaminated air. Her body collapses into a fit a tremors on the bed. Her face contorts into one of despair. Her shoulders keep shaking as she lays there, holding her face in her hands. Finally we hear her breath. That awful gasping noise where you can hear the saliva caught in her throat and the snot in her nose. She snorts, gasps, and begins to wail. We begin to wish the scene had stayed muted.
Pain is an interesting thing. It goes far beyond the physical aspect of its nature. Emotional pain, while it seems so metaphorical, is quite literally the same type of hurt, in my opinion. The scene described above is about me; a scene that I have seen myself collapse into on more than one occasion, and I'm sure I will continue to experience such despair as time goes on.
There is something so intense about emotional pain. Something so, raw, and different. Physical pain can be measured and the injury can be understood by observing the body, the blood flow of the wound. But emotional pain, that's something quite different. It cannot be measured, and it cannot be understood by anyone except maybe the person experiencing it. And yet, emotional pain can feel just as present as a stab wound in your leg.
The aching, the stabbing pain in my stomach and chest, and the tightness of my throat. Sometimes I literally cannot breath. Or, I think I can't. Isn't it interesting?  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Weighted Down

Every now and then I write in my actual journal what I call "poetry", or songs that I never make music to. Me writing poetry usually only happens on either extreme end of the emotional spectrum. I always write my poetry in pen in any one of my multiple unfinished journals. Here it is. I don't expect you to love it. and I don't mind if you hate it. I'm only expressing a strange feeling I have been having the past couple weeks; an odd heaviness that quite literally I can feel in my body.

Sometimes I feel like I can't move. 
I feel so heavy...
Even as I lift my hand to touch the pen to this page, I feel its weight. 
Weighted down.

I think it's my heart. 
There's something in my heart, 
Some disease that is spreading
Through the blood that my heart is pumping in and out. 

In and out, in and out,
And each time it circulates, 
the blood is getting sicker and sicker.

Heavier and heavier I feel.
My heavy, lifted arm is tired,
As if the blood running through my veins were weighted...
Weighted down. 

I feel so heavy!
I really cannot move. 
I think I may be paralyzed.
My body is tense and my muscles so tight. 

I don't think I could even scream,
if cared enough to try.
My throat is tight and I can hardly breath. 

Am I breathing? 
Am I even awake, 
Or is this some strange stream of semi-conscience thought,
That I am only aware of in my dreams?

Why won't this heaviness leave me?
I can't even cry; 
Not one single tear.
But oh how I long to cry.

Now I'm scared.
I want to cry, I want to scream. 
I want to kick, pound, and tear at the ground
That I cannot leave. 

But all I do is stare.
With my body on the ground curled up
In the fetal position,
Blankly at the wall I stare

I stare, and I think about my blood. 
It is still so heavy. 
It must be my heart. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I was angry.
So, so angry. Rage thumped in my heart towards you. Yes, you. My friends, my family, maybe even God. I have felt very alone for such a long, long time. Ever since my plans were changed, since my life fell apart, since I left San Marcos I have felt alone. One person consistently cared for me. He was the one who checked up on me, chatted with me about unimportant things, encouraged me, and said the really hard things that I needed to hear during those 6 months when I was away from the place I called my home, San Marcos. He was there. I depended on him heavily. It was wrong, and I knew it, but I felt I had no choice. No one else was there for me, except God and him. Anger and frustration has been building up inside of me for the past 5 months, unbeknownst to me, until today. Today it all spilled out. I hadn't really cared that this one person was the only one who kept up with me when I was away from San Marcos. At least I had him. However, now that I don't have him anymore, it has become heavily apparent how alone I feel, how far away I feel, and how angry I have been at the other people in my life. Today that anger destroyed me.
Aggression. Rage. Frustration. Alone. Fear. Depression. Giving up. Death.
These thoughts ran through my head today. Yes, even the last one. Death. Why the hell must my thoughts go to such an extreme place? Yeah, I am unhappy right now. Yeah, I'm not where I want to be in life. Yeah, things have happened recently that have completely destroyed what I knew for certain was my future. So what? Oh poor Catherine... she has such a hard life! Living a hard life with suffering and sadness is not worthy of living, clearly. It would be easy to give up.
In a world without hope, yes. I would give up. But this world is far from without hope.
I am so completely and totally selfish. Honestly, it disgusts me. I'm so sorry to all of you. It is so easy to throw a pity party and hate the people around me for not loving me well, but really... Let's be real, Catherine. Are you loving them perfectly? Haha, no way. I am not. I am a ridiculous human being that cares mostly only for herself. How awful is that? There is little that saddens me more than the selfishness of humanity. Selfishness is the driving force of all sin. Murder, rape, greed, lies, injustice, jealousy, hate, adultery. It is our downfall. Tragic. And when it comes down to it, I am no better than the rest of the world. I may like to think that I am a saint because of the sacrifices I have made for others, because I open doors, because I love Africans more than you do, because I care about your hunger more than my own sometimes, but that is complete bull. I am sorry. I wish I were a better friend.All I can do is hope and pray to the God of all things and ask Him to help me change my heart... My wicked, disgusting heart.
Good thing our Lord is so Holy. Isn't it grand that the Creator of all is my friend, my Father, and my Savior? And He has saved me. I am righteous. I am redeemed. Thank God.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Too Passionate?

Can a person be too passionate? Can a person care about too many things and want to make a difference in too many different areas of need? I feel like I am one of those people. There are so many things that I am so passionate about. Okay.... maybe not so passionate about so many things. I don't sit around all day thinking about how I could bring good change to the world in 20 different ways. I wish I did.
Scratch that. No I don't wish that. That might mean that I was an incredibly selfless person who was more motivated to do good than most human beings, but, that would also mean that I wouldn't be able to devote enough attention and time and resources to one, big, important cause.
Anyway. The point of this post is actually to complain about how many things I care about. I feel distracted, unable to focus. Maybe I need to narrow down or prioritize my passions; that way I could make sure I was actually dedicating enough of my attention to one or two things. Or maybe, I'm over-thinking this entirely too much.
List of things I wish I could make an impact or change in, donate to, serve the cause:

  1. Africa (top priority being medical needs/water sanitation/education)
  2. Sex-trafficking (all over the world. this issue in and of itself is huge. maybe start in the U.S.)
  3. Food and Nutrition (holistic nutrition, whole/real foods, traditional eating, EDUCATION)
  4. Children/Youth ministry (so many kids/teens EVERYWHERE are in need of love, support, Jesus)
  5. Drug/Alcohol abuse in youth (I've been in this scene a lot... I so wish I could educate parents or work with youth in this area)
  6. Drunk Driving (irritates me so much... gosh) 
  7. Educating myself more
  8. Photography
  9. Other "selfish" things I wish I could spend time on
But how the heck do I do it all? I can't. I guess I have to choose. Oh, and pretty much ABOVE ALL I would like to a wife and mother. Goodness. I'm super passionate (most passionate) about that. Dumb. I'm silly. Too many things to care about.

Monday, March 5, 2012

In Regards to the Previous Post

You must know this. In my heart I will always desire a husband. I will always want to be some man's wife. To love and support a great man of God who's heart burns for ministry would bring me such joy. I want nothing more than to glorify God by being one in marriage. However, because of past experience, fear of more pain and broken hearts, and because I have peace of mind even in knowing that I may never have the privilege of being a wife and mother, I find myself prone to say things that I said in my previous blog post. I know I will survive without a husband if I have to. In fact, I will thrive. God has huge things for me in this life on earth. He has made me more passionate than any one human being should be able to be. Husband or no husband, I will be joyful and serve the Lord.
 You say you remember when you first met me. "You were so different than who I know you to be now", you say. You recall me being a lot "tougher" than how I am now. I seemed to be harder, more bitter, not romantic, and, well, just "tough". I remember it too, to be honest. I was tough. Actually, I was pretending to be tough. Truth be told, I was very broken and very bitter.
 How could you expect me to have been otherwise? Do you not know what I had gone through? Maybe not. I was pretending to not care, pretending to be strong and tough because I had to. It was a survival tactic. I had to act as though I couldn't care less about love, relationships, marriage, and all other sweet and lovely things in life because I could not believe in them or trust them. To protect myself from getting my heart ripped out of my chest and shredded into pieces again, I told myself that love was not real; at least not the love that humans were capable (or in my mind, incapable) of. I told myself that I would never marry. I told myself that my chances with love and happiness with a man were over. Even if someone else came along and tried to persuade me to be with them, I was going to say no. Why? This is why.

 Because people fall out of love, that is why. And if people fall out of love, how could I ever trust someone enough to date them, much less commit my life to someone and marry them. Whenever I had experienced romantic love with a boy or a man, it never lasted. They loved me one day, but for some reason, the next day they did not. Was something wrong with me? Why did it never work? Even in the marriages that I witnessed around me, I was not impressed with human kind's ability to commit to each other and love each other well. I was heart broken for the last time, I swore to myself. "No more of this love stuff!" I thought. Please, no more hurt, no more tears, no more sleepless nights, cramping stomachs, and empty trust. I couldn't do it anymore! Clearly romantic love was just, ephemeral. Short lived. It never lasted, and maybe, it was never even real. It was never even there. This is why I was "tough". Because I HAD to be. I could not allow myself to believe in it. If I did, and I eventually trusted another man with my heart, was vulnerable with him, and if he became my best friend and also the love of my life, then it would very dangerous. There is so much risk in it. I couldn't do it. What if, again, the love did not last? What if I lost him?

Well, believe it or not, someone convinced me to believe otherwise. He somehow got me to give it a try. I was pursued, persuaded once, and then after I backed out, was persuaded a second time to date him. Can you believe it? I gave love another try! I gave human kind a third chance to prove me otherwise; to prove to me that my bitterness and fear towards love was wrong. Maybe a man could love me well and continue to love me, and stay with me. Maybe it would last!

I can't help but have this slight feeling of, well, irony in this situation as I sit here writing these things, and as I remember my bitterness and how I overcame it. I suppose maybe ironic isn't the right word. Maybe the right word is just, sad. I suppose I find it sad, that as I sit here and recall who I used to be more than one year ago, who I have been within the last year, and then how I am feeling now. I bet that sentence didn't really make sense to you. Here is what has happened: 1. broken-hearted and very bitter towards love 2. convinced it might be real after all, and then fell desperately in love completely and totally 3. and now broken-hearted once again, and feeling a certain bitterness and lack of faith in romance return.

I'm fighting earnestly against bitterness. I don't want to be bitter. I realize that love, romance, relationships, and marriages sometimes work out for some people, and I am so glad for that. Also, note that I am speaking prematurely perhaps, as I do not actually know the ending of this love story that I am still sort of a part of, but I cannot help having this intense fear that it is done... over, for good. And if it is, oh the bitterness. However, if this is indeed the ending of yet another epic love tale of Catherine Marchand, I know that this will end much differently than any of the previous tales. Why? Just because of the Lord, and how He is healing my heart and taking care of me. He gives me more hope than any man could. I can always trust in Him, fortunately. So, I think the bitterness won't be as much of problem this time. I will be sad. I will be sad for a very long time if this is the ending, and I may not choose this time ("this time" being hypothetical for now) to say yes or to be convinced by another man. Unless the Lord really wants me to marry some other guy, and unless He makes it very evident to me, then I think this was/is my last go. I know, I know. I sounds just like the "tough" Catherine that I used to pretend to be. But, is it okay if I mean it this time? It's going to be too hard to put my heart into another man's hands. Dating and relationships have caused me so much pain. I'm just not sure I want another try. Would I be giving up a huge, huge dream that I have had since I was a little girl? Yes. But maybe that's okay. I love children, and I love babies. I would love to have my own, but I don't need my own. I can love on any baby or kid out there. There are lots of children around this world that need to be loved and nourished. Men can take care of themselves, I suppose.          

Friday, February 24, 2012

February 23rd. I'm single and I don't want to be.

My Thursday in San Marcos was obviously hard, but for some reason I feel like it was one of the best days of my life. I think I feel that way because of the redemption there was in that day, the healing, the total comfort I eventually received from the Lord by the end of the day… it was astonishing. Honestly, I am so stunned. I know God is good and I don’t doubt Him and His ability to provide, but it’s just so amazing for me to see how I am handling this. Jake means so so much to me. I love you him much more than I have loved any other, and my intentions are much more serious than I have ever had before, but this heart break is so manageable because of the Lord. I am just so shocked. I look back and think about how I was after Will broke up with me. I wanted to hurt myself. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I was so so miserable. But because I am depending on the Lord totally and completely to comfort me and hold me, and because I keep going to Him for help… He is. He is providing. He is here. I am doing well. My mind is blown. I am still sad. My heart is very heavy. I am afraid of what Jake may choose (as he is in a time of reflection and processing feelings and thoughts), but I am at peace for the most part, and I am joyful. Crazy. God is more wonderful than I can even put into words. He really is my loving Father. I guess it is just a little strange to be brought such comfort and peace from a man who I cannot see. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Illness: GAPS - A Self Diagnosis

Hey guys, this is my attempt at a mass explanation of my current health situation. I have had SO many people question me about my illness, how I got sick, what is happening in my body, how I am trying to get better, etc. Therefore, I am going to to try to answer all of those questions in this post. Wish me luck. I am going to try to explain to the best of my ability. If I go into too much detail, forgive me.

First of all, let me tell you a little bit about the journey. It seems like most of my life I have had allergies; to trees, grasses, molds, animals, dust, and foods. But, if you were to ask my mom if I had food allergies as a baby, she would say no. I seemed to tolerate most foods just fine. But somehow (I will actually explain how later on) along the way, I developed quite a few allergies. As a younger child, my environmental allergies were the worst of my problems. I first got tested when I was 10 years old and found out I was allergic to many environmental allergens, and a few types of foods; those being corn, milk, soy, peanuts, and walnuts. I ignored my food allergies for about a year or two, before I started noticing the intense eczema and rashes I would get on certain places of my body. I started caring about my appearance and was ashamed and embarrassed by the "gross" rashes on my face and arms, and at this point (age 12 probably) decided to try to avoid the foods I was allergic to. I was never able to avoid corn and soy completely though, perhaps because of my lack of maturity and my larger family (my food allergy "needs" were not catered to), so I dealt with these rashes all through out teen-hood, high school, and until now. Fortunately it used to be very manageable, and was not devastating enough to make me sick or incapable of enjoying my childhood and all of the things a young person could do growing up. I had a wonderful childhood full of adventure, good food (well, actually quite bad for me, but I didn't know this at the time), and lots of activity. I played outside almost 24/7, ate absurd amounts of bread, pastas, cookies, and at holidays as many dinner rolls as I could get away with.  I loved to eat chips, crackers, and when my mom wasn't looking I would eat plenty of cookies. I didn't notice any harmful effects from these foods. I was very active! I played sports, raised chickens, enjoyed school, 4-H and all of the competitions that were a part of it. Besides my occasional rashes and sneezy eye-rubbing springs, I had a totally normal childhood. My mom called me the "starch queen", and discouraged me from eating too much starchy foods because she believed it was bad for me. I thought she was crazy. I wish I had listened to her.
Here I am; age 17, body covered in a some what bad rash, and itching a lot. At this point I have discovered kissing, alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, staying out all night, the feeling and stress of disappointing my parents, and a few other things, not necessarily in that order. Mom took me to a doctor, and then to the allergist, and I was tested again. This time, the list of food allergies had grown impressively. Corn, milk, soy, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, rice, oats, celery, carrots, green beans, pears, apples, peas, hopps, and more. I was astonished. How could this be? Oh well! Life continued on some what normally. I tried to avoid these foods. However, at this point in my life I seemed to get sick at least once a month with some sort of bacterial throat infection. I also had strep and mono at the same time, and couldn't get better from the mono for about a whole year. I had no energy, school began to get difficult, and I was no longer excelling. I wondered if I had some sort of auto-immune disorder.
Here I am; age 20, body covered in atopic dermatitis that was more severe than it had ever been. "Not again!", I thought. At this point in life I had been to Africa, started college, frequented McDonalds and other fast food joints multiple times a week, lived in an apartment by myself, and ate ice cream and rolls of delicious, fresh baked bread multiple times a day. To say the least, I had not been treating my body to good, nutritious food it needed. Over the years I had been to countless dermatologists, allergists, M.D.s, and had not been very impressed or helped by them. By this time I had started frequenting a more holistic doctor. I went to the see him again, and found out that now I was allergic to wheat as well. I was devastated. I sobbed. I felt like I was allergic to everything! Bread to me was everything. It was an important part of my diet; my favorite thing to eat. I eventually got over it. Thanksgiving day of 2010 was my first day without bread. That holiday, I didn't consume a single dinner roll. This was a tragedy for me, but I knew it was worth it. My body was not doing well, and I had to make an effort. By Christmas it became evident that I would also have to cut out all dairy.  
Here I am; age 21. By summer of 2011, I was developing food allergies weekly. By fall, I was reacting to literally everything I ate. I had been to many doctors. They all said, "Well, you appear to be having some serious problems with food allergies. Here are some steroids to calm down the inflammation of your skin." One doctor I went to was actually an amazing help. Unfortunately he was expensive, insurance didn't cover him, and he wasn't able to stop my body from developing allergies. He helped me in many ways though (diagnosing me with digestion/gut illness, figuring out I had heavy metal poisoning, parasites, yeast infection, etc), so that was a huge encouragement to know that it was possible to find help and have hope in healing. He was an alternative medicine doctor, so from there on out I have pretty much only sought help from practitioners who are more holistic and alternative.
Here I am; almost at age 22, still very sick, with a self-diagnosis of a syndrome called GAPS. Here is where I get to explain to you what that is, and what is happening in my body. GAPS stands for gut and psychology syndrome and gut and physiology syndrome. Simply put, a GAPS patient has what Dr. Natasha Campbell would call "abnormal flora". This means there is an incorrect balance of good and bad bacteria living in the gut. There needs to be more good bacteria than bad, but in my case and the case of other GAPsters, for one reason or another (there are many possible situations that can cause this abnormal flora count to occur), there are more bad bacteria. The bad bacteria cause havoc. In my body, the mucus lining/gut lining of my gut walls has been attacked, and has worn down. Now, my gut lining is porous. It has little holes in it, so now when I eat, undigested food particles will leak into my blood stream through the little holes in my gut lining, and my body attacks the food particles by creating antibodies to them, therefore creating an "allergy". So every time I ate food, I was having allergic reactions. I also was getting extremely bloated after eating, had abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, and other symptoms.
Now - The goal is to heal my body from the inside out. I'm trying to heal my gut, so that it will start accepting the goods I am eating, absorbing nutrients, etc. I'm attempting this with the GAPS diet. Check it out! I would encourage anyone with any sort of digestive problems, autism, auto-immune disorder, or any "incurable" disease to at least try this diet for a few months.