A Brief Note On Anxiety

It’s hard living with anxiety, especially when your a Christ. Right now the thought that overloads my thought process is.

“Your a Christian, you shouldn’t struggle with anxiety.”

“You should be ashamed that you have it”.

When anxiety overcomes me, is so painfully draining and overwhelming. It’s hard for me to even approach God in prayer. But maybe it’s all the more reason to draw near to Him in the first place. I mean, when life is fine and dandy, I barely think of Him. As though I am some kind of fair weather friend.

But maybe in our suffering is when we learn to know God and His love most. Know this, your not a freak for having anxiety in your life, your not a horrible christian if you have anxiety.

God still loves you and you are the apple of his eye.

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Confessions of an Old Soul (Rant Ahead)

Before I  go on with a new blog, it would mean a lot to me if all you read my blog, to please subscribe, leave  and even share my blogs with friends. While writing is very healing, my mission is to bring inspiration, truth, love and hope to others.

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I sometimes feel like an old soul, or that maybe I could have been raised in another life time or country.

Why you ask?

Because sometimes I find myself so frustrated with this generation, even myself included. I mean, we have the ability to communicate with others in mere seconds. But something so simple becomes so difficult.

How?

Why?

A friend was telling me recently that she believed that technology is actually making people more disconnected then ever. I agree with her. We are more apart then ever before. Some of us would rather look at our phones, or lap top screens rather then actually talk to the person closest next to us.

It’s almost as though, it has become difficult to look someone in the eye. Or even listen to someone without having to look at our phones. It’s as though a vast majority of us have A.D.D. Again, I am not perfect in this area either.

But it simply annoys me that with all of our avenues of communication, we cannot communicate (however quickly) that were not going to be able to make it to a meeting, or that were going to be late. Perhaps technology is even causing us to be more withdrawn or focused on ourselves.

That then leads me into another of frustration, that being that I have to be the one reaching out to others in my own life. I once thought that friendship goes both ways. Or so it seemed.

The reality has to be two fold, either people are seriously introverted (which is fine) or people lack communication skills, which is a problem. Is it not?  I’ve noticed this problem that last handful of years of my life.

Very few people can execute basic people skills, for example I could say to someone “hi, how are you?

They respond: I’m good, thanks…

See the problem?

Being understanding, kind and gracious toward other personality types is one thing. Allowing others to stay as they in the name of tolerance is another. It’s a lie. A lie that only longs to keep us at a distance from one another.

Our society is in great need of reform, in every area. Loving others is great, but love also requires to want more for each other, because we are called to love others.

The reformation starts with you and I, lets not live in slow motion any longer.

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The Highly Sensitive Person

Here is a glimpse of a manuscript I am working on:

Over the last few years of my life, I have started to notice a group of people. One that feels emotions very deeply, cares deeply and loves deeply. These people tend to be more sensitive to what people say and do (and even don’t do), these people are very sensitive toward the discomfort or pain of others. They are sometimes their toughest enemies, when they are under the belief that they have wronged someone or done something wrong. They also tend to be more socially shy (or even seen as awkward). My reasoning for mentioning all of this, is that I am one of these people. To define more clearly what I am speaking about in the above sentences, is HPS (Hyper Sensitive Person. HPS was a phrase that was created by Dr. Elaine N. Aron in 1996.

According to research, it is believed that 15-20 percent of people have a highly sensitive trait .  People who are HSP’s typically are very creative and have very rich inner lives.  There came a point when I really began to understand this about myself, when I investigated many of the signs of being a HSP. Things began to add up when I noticed that I would become easily shaken when I had much to do, or when I would avoid situations that I knew could be crushing to my person or that I often spent a good amount of time thinking about the meaning of life, why people were they were  and so on.

It is extremely easy to say that HSP is a simple case of introversion,  but it’s not always the case. Research shows that the difference between an introvert and  a HSP is that an introvert may just need to recharge their batteries after being around people for a while. They may not react the same to emotions and various types of stimuli. There is another layer to the hyper sensitive person’s that is the opposite introversion, that is extroversion. We all know that extroverted people feed off of interactions with others, but how do they as highly sensitive people deal with life as highly sensitive people? When I first understood that extroverted people were also highly sensitive people, my intrigue went to an all time high. Again, while highly sensitive extroverts do thrive off interactions with people and group activities, they do have a need to be by themselves to recover from adverse stimulation.  Whichever spectrum you identity yourself with, we are a group of people with much to offer to the world and beyond.

I am a introverted HSP myself, it’s taken me awhile to find the cause of why I was the way I was. That being that I feel things deeply, have a rich inner life and often feel overwhelmed in stressful situations. Most of the time there was the belief that I needed to get over being “too sensitive” or taking things “too personally”. Of course, there is always room to grow, find balance and learn to let thins bounce off you. But if there is one crucial element that has brought me great clarity and peace, it is that God (the creator of the Heavens and the Earth) made wired me this way, because of that there must be great rejoicing and less living in shame.

This is the perspective that I write from, a gospel centered worldview that says that there is plenty of room and purpose for highly sensitive people within the kingdom of God. So for the artist that seems so impacted by the harsh criticism of others, for those who have ever been told to stop taking things so personally, for those in caring professions that see to care “too much” about others, for those who feel “too deeply”, for those who constantly plagued with irrational thoughts, for those seemly surrounded by unexpected fears and for those who know people with sensitive  spirits. This book is for you, may we gain a better understanding of our selves, each other. I also want to be very clear about something,’being made that way’ with HSP is not an excuse, but rather, a reminder that we should focus on the positive and remember that we, as HSPs, have some pretty special and unique skills and qualities and the opportunity to use them to make a difference and bless others.  As we begin,  may we in the words of Brenning Manning: “Define our selves radically by the love of God

Looking at Jesus

The more I read trough the bible, the more convinced that Jesus is who he says he is. As CS Lewis Brilliantly wrote:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

For me, it is extremely difficult to read about his life, how he fearlessly loved people, how he performed miracles and he was strong like a lion. Growing up in a buddhist family, I was never drawn to the teaching of Buddha, they way I was to Christ.

Jesus takes failures and outcasts and re-writes their history with grace. He doesn’t allow them to stay as they are, but ignites their hearts to live for something greater. I know that around this time of year a lot of people like to present what they believe Jesus looked like, I mean, I tend to believe that he was more of the short haired person that resembled something like this:

jesus-christ

Though, I like to believe he had a much thicker beard and was a man that wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The point I want to make with this, is that when we are faced with shame, guilt, despair, loneliness, rejection, regret and so many more avenues of human life. That when we face these elements of life, we must teach ourselves to look at the face of Jesus. Knowing that when we are in Christ, we are looking into the eyes of a God-man that doesn’t see us as we see ourselves. In fact, he see’s us a white as snow.

May we patiently teach ourselves to look into the saviors eyes, and there we will find our fullest worth and who we truly are.

 

On The Fathers Love

If I could describe the love of the heavenly father to someone, it would be like a father who takes off running toward his son who ran away. In Luke 15, we read the story of the prodigal son. In short, we see a son who simply wants the money he would receive when his father passes away. But he doesn’t want to wait any longer, he wants his inheritance right this moment.

The son simply wants his share of the money, and wants to prove that he can live his life apart from his father. A big reason why the love of the father is so real to me, is that I am that son. I wander off on my own thinking that I can function in my own little kingdom. But much like this son, I too make a mess of things.

The son went off and burned through all his money, he seemed to live the high life but for a moment. Until reality sets in. He comes to his senses ad realizes that he now has nothing and is living the life of a homeless person practically speaking.  Again, I do this too. I sometimes think that all I need is money and then my joy will be made complete. But all the money in the world, all the love and sex in the world can and will leave us only empty and longing for more.

I have come to realize that without the fathers love I am empty, a hopeless beggar. I believe that so many of believe that God is simply angry at us and longs to pounce on us. But in Luke 15, we see a father who stands and watches for his sons and daughters walking toward homes. With tears in his eyes and heart full of love, he comes running toward us, gripping us and lavishing his love on us.

O won’t we let the father love us in this way. Lest we easily wander off of our own longing for something this world could never gives us.

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Word Vomiting on Anxiety and The Christian Life.

Breath… Breath… I tell myself as the sense of panic sets in.

My chest tightens, along with the shortness of breath.

This doesn’t make any sense, shouldn’t I have the most peace and Joy in all the world?

Instead, I feel like everything is going into a spontaneous flat spin. And you call yourself a Christian!?  

This tends to be the inner conversation that I have with myself most days, when anxiety seems to be getting the better of me. Anxiety and depression are things that any and all people may experience in a life time. But it can be a little tricky (a lot tricky actually) if you are a professing Christian.

I’m willing to bet that there are many bible believing Christians that live with either or both anxiety or depression. But their timid about speaking up about it. I know that when I visit a new church, I tend to put my smile on and be prepared to tell everyone that greets me how great I’m doing.

Why?

Because talking about anxiety or depression in some christian communities is like a drill sergeant who goes into a room full of marines who are sleeping and decide to let loose a flash bang. It can be painfully deafening and stunning to ones vision, but that’s what it’s like when a fellow believer talks about mental illness in the church. It hurts peoples ears and blinds the perception of life. Or the Christian life rather.

I personally have reached a point in my life, where I am tired of stuffing how I’m doing just to better sooth others. Yet I am still tremble at the thought of hearing another cliche response to pain.

Are you praying enough?

In the word? (The Bible)

Are you memorizing scripture?

(even better) are you in fellowship with other believers?

Or… Or.. “oh, I’m sorry to hear that, I’ll pray for you”… As the pat you on the shoulder, as if to say “there there little one, its going to be alright”

Verses will then be quoted about how were not meant to worry, and how God knows every hair on our heads. I very much understand that. And I actually believe that deep down, though the anxiety in my heart wants me to believe other wise.

Believers that struggle with anxiety are not people that simply need fixing, we don’t need quick fixes for things that we might have until the day were led home by Aslan (Chronicles of Narnia reference to Jesus). For some, having mental illness could be the Lords way of using something seen as evil, for our good.

God knows that if I didn’t have CP, I probably rely or need him as much. I few my own anxiety and depression in the same. Not in the sense that I enjoy living with anxiety or depression, but that I know that God uses these things as a way of making me a more loving and compassionate person.

The classic passage in scripture where the apostle Paul, pleas that God would remove the thorn from his side, only to have the king of the cosmos say “my grace is sufficient for you”. The key word here is grace, for a Christian, grace is meant to be our driving force. Not our mustering of effort, Not our lists of accomplishments or failures.

Something inside believes, that this is how Christians are meant to live in community and relationship to one another. Yes, there is always room to encourage and push each other to grow. But more then anything grace is meant to abound all the more.

For so long pastors, and the church as a whole has seemed to only want to “fix” those who are learning to live and cope with various shades of mental illness. And that should never be the answer, nor the motivation for the church.First and foremost, I believe that the Church should learn to sit quietly with those who are in the midst of the storm.

This is best scene through out the story of Job, job in the opening chapters loses everything he ever held dear to him. He finds himself in a place of distress in every area of his life. His friends would soon arrive on the scene of his life. There they sat quietly as their friend mourned the loss of his children and vitality, but they seemed to be silent with him for a moment.

Then they started accusing him of doing something to royally piss God off. And as a result, God was then punishing job for something that he had done. The sad truth is that we Christians do the same thing today. Rather then sitting with someone in their pain, we tend to spew at the mouth with cliche statements and things that really say nothing in the end.

Could this be because were scared of not having the answer for something or someone in life? I think so, some of the most meaningful moments in my life have been when a friend has sat beside me and just let me cry. Not giving me a sermon, although we sometimes need that too. But they let me cry and scream until there wasn’t anything left to empty of myself.

We all could be better at this couldn’t we? As I have more then likely said before. If you have anxiety or any other form of mental illness. your not a freak, your not something that needs simple repair or fixing. you are not your diagnoses. your loved, created in the image of the king and thus have more worth and value then you could ever know.  Your pain runs deeper that mere pat answers. Healing and recovery are possible with time and diligence. You don’t have to go through life alone, nor were you ever meant to.

You were created to loved and be loved. Seek help, don’t be afraid to need it. Ignore what others think, your life matters to much to lay quietly in the darkness.

 

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A Letter To My Panic Ridden Self

The other day, I began the journey of seeing a new mental health professional. There was a period of time where I felt as though my life was manageable without counseling. And maybe to an extent it was, but sooner or later the depression would slowly start moving back in. Much like a person who, over time starts leaving all their stuff at your house.

The anxiety became worse then I have previously experienced. I’ve been having two or three attacks a week. Mixed in with horrible nightmares. So enough was enough. I decided to tell my family doctor exactly what I was experiencing.

Tight chest

Shortness of breath

Sweaty Palms

frantic and irrational thoughts thoughts.

During my fist session with this psychologist, he gathered some standard information. But what shocked me is that it didn’t take him long to profess that there were all the signs of a severe panic disorder. While there is much more treatment ahead, its good to put a name, some words a face even to what has been holding onto me so tightly. That being said, the following paragraphs will be a letter to my panic ridden self, perhaps as you read this you can find some hope and healing as well. Maybe even consider doing this exercise as well.

Dear  panic ridden self,

I don’t know when you first became as you are, but if I could trace time back to its root. I would tell you that’s it’s okay. Life was meant to be a joy and not a burden. There is a much greater king in charge of the universe then ourselves. I know you have had to endure such hardship at a young age, but you weren’t the only one that had to endure it.

There were people beside you, a family that endured it a long side you. Who hurt with you. I know that you felt like an outcast in such colorful world. I know you just wanted to be like everyone else, that you would occasionally gaze up to the sky and wonder why the way things were as they are.

I know that you only wanted to experience life the way everyone else did, but instead felt like you were guarded from the world around you. It’s okay, life is actually being molded into something beautiful and there is more to come.

I know you wanted to feel loved, and so you sought out people and anything to make you feel alive and whole. The truth is, we all do this. There is a king and father of the universe that can make you more alive then any earthly manifestation this world can produce.

You must learn to trust this heavenly king, for when life seems to fall apart in ways we would not desire, he is putting things back together in ways that will only be of greater benefit to us.

You can learn to breath, and enjoy. You don’t have to hold on so tightly. I know life will knock you down, and people will hurt you. But don’t let that darken your understanding of life and who you are.

You will be tempted to bring your defenses up, but sometimes you have to let the most unlikely people love you (whoever they may be).  Your going to make mistakes, say things you don’t mean, do things you never thought you would do.

But above all else, accept forgiveness, from the Lord, others, please try to be kind to yourself. You’ll have a habit of wanting to kick your own ass a lot. Just know that that won’t help anything. Keep chasing your dreams and pushing your limits.

Everything will be just fine.

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From Me to You.

For everyone that has read my various posts, I thought I’d share a few more opportunities to read some of my work. Here are links to a few books that I have written of the past few years.

The first is The Emotional Struggle, which is a detailed memoir about my life with cerebral palsy, depression and faith.

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http://www.amazon.com/Emotional-Struggle-Brandon-Ryan/dp/1434348113/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1449964214&sr=8-7&keywords=The+emotional+struggle

The second is A Hunger for Touch, which speaks about how technology is causing a chasm between people and how it can also lead to addiction.

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http://www.amazon.com/Hunger-Touch-Brandon-L-Ryan/dp/1938480031/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449964592&sr=8-1&keywords=hunger+for+touch

The Two Big C Words

For the past several months, there have been a host of horribly dreams that invade my sleep. Most recently, there has been a dream where I am diagnosed with cancer. I don’t know much about dream interpretation, but many claim that it is a manifestation of the sub conscious.

Be that as it may, the dreams (nightmares even) seem all the more real to me. When I first told this dream to a friend, they pointed out the fact that it might stem from the fact that I have a friend who has cerebral palsy and was recently diagnosed with cancer.

The thought never really crossed my mind, until they brought it to my attention. To be fair, anyone can be diagnosed with cancer on any given day. It doesn’t matter how well a person takes care of their bodies, sometimes things just happen.

My interpretation on the dream, perhaps, is that maybe I am the cancer. I mean this in the most non-dramatic way possible. In terms of a lot the relationships, there is the nagging sense that I’m always fucking things up some how. As such the logic that follows is that I am supposed to hide myself from society. Much like a diseased person would in the old testament.

Again, I am not aiming to be dramatic or cause others to feel sorry for me. The point is, is that this has been a great battle and difficulty for me. One that has been on and off again, for as long as I’ve lived.

The Second C: Control

With so many areas of life changing, or seeming to be that way. I have learned to not hold on so tight. Because people are not ultimately ours. Though I will add, that in regards to my personal convictions regarding the life and way of Christ. I do believe that we belong to each other and that we are created to share in life and give our lives to others.

But at the same time, we as humans have the choice to come and go as we please. Other times other elements to life take the front seat. But what happens when you feel like your on the outside looking in? Even with our own personal tasks, be it school, job, family etc. Relationships that we perceived to e long lasting and strong seem to be slipping away.

Wether that is true or not, remains to be discovered. What I am speaking of though, is the mere feeling or belief that people are slipping away. Perhaps if your like me, a sense of great panic sets in. And much like when a parent has to be separated from a child they do everything in their power to hold onto the grasp.

I’m the learning the painfully obvious truth, that friendships change. And sometimes you have to let people go, not because you want them to, but because it is their choice. That does mean that we don’t long for close, intimate relationships. This is why my faith and spirituality is so very important to me. Because I am told that there is a friend that sticks closer then a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

If you struggle with anxiety and panic, I want you to know that its not the end of your life. Your panic and fear do not define you or the sum total of your life. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to let people in. Never give up in the darkness.

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Between Worry and A Dream

Anybody else wrestle with worry?

I do.

People have various responses to worry, some believe its self centered, others believe it is wrapped in arrogance. Others assert that it is due to lack of spiritual center and putting ones trust in the wrong person, place or thing to find ones sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. I don’t think that many of these perspectives can honestly be argued with. But none the less, the reality of worry is a real one.

And today, its almost crippling for me. My chest is heavy and my stomach feels like it’s in knots. I know I’m not crazy, even though I often feel like it and this isn’t simply something in my head that can be easily dealt with by a simple solution.

Rather it requires time and albeit faith to know that you will make to the end of this discomfort. But making it to the end is not something we can muster on our it. It requires asking for help and finding the right people that will actually listen and understand. Not simply dealing out blanket statements.

For me, my worry comes from the dreams that are placed before me. I want to start a non profit. I want to put a team together, but what if I put a team together and nobody sticks with me? Will I keep fighting and moving forward.

This dream is so much bigger then me… I want to help people, I want to be a good friend, husband and father someday. But what if all of it blows up in my face based on mistakes that I have made in my life? I know I can’t control everything around me. But dammit it would be nice to know that others are willing to come along side me for the long hall.

Francis of Assisi once wrote:

“Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

As I said, I can’t control the future of what choices and actions others decide to make. But I can work on me. I can learn ways to cope with this anxiety. I can learn that irrational thoughts are simply that if they have no proper founding. I can learn to address them with the right people.

I only refuse to give in to societies treatment of mental illness, preferably from Christian circles that inform you of your little faith or how you can pray away the anxiety. And not from secular professionals that say that you only need medication. In actuality, a holistic approach is greatly needed in my view. Because a human being is not simply just the chemicals in their brain, nor the physical make up of our body. But we are a physical, emotional and spiritual beings at the same time.

Its okay that we as human struggle, its when we choose to stay there that becomes the problem. I write these blogs just as much myself as I do for my readers. Let us desire more for ourselves and others.

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