And then… my daughter crashed!

Note to reader: This post has been getting some attention recently and before you read on, please note that this post was written in May 2014. We have since (present day being June 2018) seen a change in circumstances and the journey of faith has continued.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy the post.

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I guess I should have seen it coming, but really – I didn’t.

My little girl was born into a family who loves her. A small family, but a family. When she was 3, literally 3 days after she turned 3, her grandmother passed away and her close-by and near family was reduced to mom, dad and a grandpa. But she was and is still very loved. She then began Japanese kindergarten in the hope she would learn the language quickly as all other kids I always heard about – “with full immersion they just pick it up”. Well, this girl didn’t that easily. The first year went by okay, but when the 2nd year began she just… couldn’t cope. Perhaps the teachers grew weary and tired of her not understanding what they said. She had little or no trouble with the friends in her class. The teacher informed us that “she had many kids to watch”, e.g. I really can’t be bothered with your child and it’s not my fault she hasn’t picked up the language. My girl grew sad and weary and it wasn’t long before the tears began to roll… fast forward to the night she broke down and begged me never to take her back. That was when she revealed to me how the teacher treated her and another child who had some learning difficulty. Shaking their arms, asking questions they couldn’t answer, demanding they say something they couldn’t say… all due to language problem and I suppose teachers whom more eagerly followed the rule book rather than care for each child. We pulled her out that very night and she never went back.

Being home with mommy helped her in the sense that she was relieved from the stress of being forced into a kindergarten 5 hours pr. day where she hated being. But being home brought other issues, such as watching mommy being so tired she couldn’t cope with things. It was during this time Japan and Kanto region had a lot of food issues and an upper limit of radiation in foods at 500 bg. pr. kilo. That’s 5 times higher than today. The stress of entertaining a 4 year old and the guilt of not seeing the disaster of the kindergarten sooner – it just all brought me all the way down, so what my girl was watching was not a mom who cared and played and talked and taught and learned to cope. It was a mom who slept 2 hours at night, who prepared food and then ate in front of the tv but not together, who took several naps during a day and basically… wasn’t really a mom. The best I could man myself up to was to bring her to the indoor soft play area where employees would be supervising and playing with the kids. I had to be there… but thankfully only in physical form. As much as I regret it, I didn’t get help in time and there are many sights I wish I would have spared my daughter of! She grew clingy to me because I could never give her enough. It took far too long before I got the needed help.

Once I began getting back on my feet we began to make plans to move. My girl had to start school, but since she couldn’t be in the Japanese system, we had to relocate and get her into an international school. We moved within a year from the time the disaster struck Japan, but back then it felt like forever. I knew we had to move, but I hated the idea. I loved the town we lived in. I loved the smell of the ocean, the convenience of things and the familiar doctor and dentist whom I could trust and all the friends… etc… But there was no choice and thus, the move became a reality.

My girl started in an international kindergarten and though she had teary eyes the first 2 days, she loved it. Because she loved it, I began to relax. Because I began to relax, she loved it more.

But the damage was done. She was sensitive to especially teachers mood and classmates and the atmosphere. Halfway through her time there, the school moved 2 blocks to a new and better place. She began getting nervous. But thankfully the teachers were the same and the kids too, so – it was just a different place. Still, she continued telling me she liked the old place much better. One time a teacher lost patience with the child sitting next to my girl, and “slammed” the hand to the table. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intended to harm anyone’s heart or ears, but my girl got so scared of this particular teacher that she cried for several months every morning at drop off. They talked and she said it was fine, but she still cried. Not until she left the kindergarten did the two of them manage to rebuild the trust.

Starting grade 1 in a new school was nerve-wrecking. Perhaps for both of us, but I really love the school and was kind of counting on my girl sensing that so she would feel safe. And I do think she does… But new beginnings are hard for her and we went through several cycles of “making friends”, “learning school life” and “missing kindergarten” hardships. One day a teacher raised her voice and scared the living daylights out of my girl. It was never intended to scare her and perhaps it wasn’t even directed at my girl and maybe, this is just the teachers way of expressing herself… Either way, the fear of authorities is deeply engraved in my daughters mind. The teacher did a wonderful job re-connecting with my girl and they ended up being friends again. However, all through grade 1 my girl has displayed a number of pains which can only be explained by psychosomatic symptoms.

And then… my daughter crashed! 

I’m not sure if anything in particular happened, just that the psychosomatic symptoms got increasingly worse over a short period of time and it wore me down and out. On my knees praying and asking God to take over and deal with this… Meanwhile, my girl got scarlet fever and for some reason that seemed to be an onset of a number of illnesses. She got fevers that came and went for no reason. She got nausea on/off, stomach pains, headaches, coughs that wouldn’t go away etc. I took her to the local doctor whom, due to the scarlet fever got nervous about several more severe deceases. He did blood work and took an x-ray and she was cleared on all.

But the symptoms hasn’t decreased. It’s with mixed feelings that I received the “she is medically fine”. I’m happy because of course that means nothing serious is wrong. But I’m also fully aware that if it’s not medical then it’s mental. And dealing with something mental is often far more complicated than dealing with physical illnesses. Not worse, just more complicated.

I am praying that God will deliver her from the grip of whatever demon is hunting her down. I pray for the Lord to provide a Christian child psychologist/counselor in our area (and they do not grow on trees here in Tokyo!) with a great reputation and with a low fee… We are rapidly running out of money.

I know I can trust Him with my girl. He died for me and rose again, so I know… I also know that He will provide the right counselor for my girl at the right time. So I am patiently waiting and praying for His hand to move.

I am at His feet!

Twitching Eye

Note to reader: This post has been getting a lot of attention throughout my blogging “career” and before you read on, please note that this post was written in May 2014. I have since (present day being December 2017) recovered from the twitching eye and other stress related symptoms (sleep deprivation, muscle tension/spasm, dizziness etc).

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy the post.

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Have you ever had a twitch anywhere in the body? It’s… so annoying! Doctors say it’s usually caused by stress and I’ll vouch for that anytime. However, since I have passed the time of being beaten down by stress to the very core of my being, I shouldn’t have those twitches anymore.

But sometimes God allows us a “thorn” just like Paul had. Not that my eye twitching is anywhere near the pain Paul suffered!! My twitching eye is my cue and the first sign of my body giving way to stress again, letting me know that it’s time to kick back, cancel plans and take a relaxing day with Jesus! A twitching eye is my first sign of stress and tension in my body and it’s like God is telling me to stop and breath – and listen.

“Be still, and know that I am God” – is one of my favorite Bible verses. Because it says it all: Be still; Relax, let go, cast all your worries on Him. “Know”; Rest in His presence and believe He is with you. Know that He is sovereign and Lord and Savior and Almighty. “God”; He is God, not you. He knows the plans for you, not you. He understands you, knows you and will help you.

There are many things happening in my life right now: My dad is sick, an upcoming trip to Denmark is in the making (read; planning), school is so busy due to spring and end of school year, my daughter is suffering from various stress signs (test results from doctor has  cleared her so it can’t be explained medically), due to her being sick this past week I had to play “teacher” at home which is a big task for me but if I do not – she will fall further behind and make way for more stress, Bible study homework and another Bible study reading (and discussion where I often feel inferior)… Thus; I am open to stress and today my eye was pretty clear on this matter.

I have a Bible study tomorrow, but i think – God is telling me to take a walk with Him along the river and read a book and just “be still in His presence”. I can’t wait to be filled up again.

Learning to seek – learning to let go

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I went from taking a serious dive into satan’s grip, falling gradually for about a year, only to find myself in a situation where I had little or no strength to cope at all. So I fell flat at my Saviors feet and felt His presence surround me. I gave up and I gave it all up – to Him. After that it was a slow but safe gradual recovery. I had to find out what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus and though I didn’t know it at the time, God was taking me by the hand and showing me His love by giving me what I needed. In small doses. I would focus all the energy I had in me on what I couldn’t see, and was in returned Blessed with the sensation of feeling His presence. I began to take baby steps climbing up from the pit of stress.

I have been asked “how do you focus on what you can’t see” and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure. I believe Jesus gives each person the experience He knows we need and can understand and relate to. For me that is the feeling of His presence. Not in a physical way, but sensing Him with my heart.

I don’t know why it did not take long for me to learn how to seek Him, but I’m guessing He taught me. However, learning to let go of the stress – or rather learning to identify and let go of my stressors – was an entirely different chapter.

I had no idea what was stressing me because everything was “just normal” but felt like a huge burden. The daily radiation news, keeping up on food issues, checking air radiation etc was a burden, but one which was needed at that time. But instead of sorting the news, I opted on reading all the news which was forcing me to sort the sensationalism from the truth. Gradually I began to understand that the time I spent on that took time away from other things – such as relaxing with my daughter! Being a mom is stressful at times, but for me it was all the time… guilt came with it and that – He revealed to me – was probably the biggest stressor of them all. The guilt I kept feeling for not spending enough time with my daughter, not talking with her enough and the guilt from not seeing the condition the led us to pull her out of her kindergarten sooner. Huge stressor. I also then realized that I had to forgive the kindergarten teacher. Though my heart had a lot of trouble dealing with my guilt, it also carried a heavy burden called unforgiveness. Forgiving a person who has hurt your child is likely the hardest thing a mom can ever do… Over time my stressors became obvious to me and because it wasn’t poured on me like a waterfall, I was able to deal with each one, one at a time. Praise the Lord that He knew just how little I could take at a time. But I still had to learn to let go… let go of my stressors and let God handle my life. I suppose once you have been all the way down and then turns to face the sun again, you learn the valuable lesson of letting go. Through the understanding that nothing belongs to me anyway, I also understood that letting go and giving everything up to Him, was the only way for me to let go of my stressors. When doing that, satan had to let his grip on me go too… I learned to rely on God alone. The Bible tells us that over and over again, but just what will it take to truly rely on Him alone. It took a stress disorder for me… and a lot of hurt and pain, tears and sleepless nights, a lot of prayers, doctors visits and a lot of time spent in His presence.

I had learned to seek Him and now I was learning to let go of it all, to truly and fully heal.

Slow motion baby steps

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After 3.11.2011 when it all began, I gradually and slowly became more and more worried and concerned about all the little details as well as the big issues of life. It happened at a speed so slow I never realized just how bad it had gotten. During this time I took care of my daughter’s physical needs but ever so often neglected her emotional needs. The last 6 months in her kindergarten things weren’t good, but it didn’t get really bad until we pulled her out of the kindergarten. After that things went down hill fast. Looking back, I feel guilty. My daughter had taken far too many emotional punches in her kindergarten, so many that she resisted and gave up learning the language. She needed me, but I didn’t realize it. Because – I was so stressed and worried about everything else. Somehow in my mind I thought that pulling her out of the kindergarten would magically bring her back to normal state of mind. I was wrong, but I didn’t realize this until I got the help I needed. Then I took some baby steps back to being a mom.

My first cry to the Lord was also the first step into a whole new spiritual world and way of life. My first morning coffee with Jesus was the first step into the spiritual realm. A world I had never been in before (see previous posts).

On the first many mornings of my coffee with Jesus, I emptied my heart in every sense of the word. I spoke anything that came to mind – in silence. Gave up everything that was left in me – in silence. I didn’t see that there was very little of my old self left in me. I was filled with fear, worry and concern. Those very things that had forced me down the spiral of evil. One of Satan’s favorite ways of getting us down is just that: Fear. A year had passed since 3.11. 2011 – and not until then did I get help. A whole year with gradual fears and worries getting worse daily and me not noticing at all. But now that I was standing up again, feeling more like a human as well as more like a mom again, I thought it was all done. But no… I was very wrong. My muscle relaxing medicine was working and gave a false sense of being “normal”. Still – I was able to be a mom again, though at times I withdrew to give myself time away from everything.

Despite knowing that something had to change, I had no clue what. Yes, my circumstances had to change, but what circumstances and to what? The road seemed blocked at that point. My daughter didn’t want to speak the japanese language, the aftershocks of the big earthquake was still happening, the food issues were never ending, the air radiation was a daily online check – and I had grown weary and tired. On top of everything else, my stress obviously was also affecting my marriage. Blessed me, my husband had been very kind and accepting during the past year. He was still accepting of me needing my “personal space” but  being aware of my stress disorder was likely a relief at this point for him.

During my morning coffee’s with Jesus, I gradually learned to give up control. Sounds easy… it’s not! My circumstances were out of my control, which left me feeling helpless and hopeless. When fear and worries presses down on you, helplessness is right down that same alley. I had no choice but to give up fighting and give up myself to His care. Still it took a long time for me to be able to give up my worries and just trust Him. The better part of a full year actually. I didn’t want to be afraid, but I couldn’t help it. It was like a bad habit. Now that I am on the other side of the stress disorder, suddenly things look more clear. Obviously, we are not in control of calamities and obviously, if you are a believer, control belongs to God, not us. Without knowing it, I was slowly letting go of fear and worries and was on my way to allow God to control my life. But Satan is vicious and he had every intention of not allowing me, to allow God. The closer I came to Jesus during my coffee morning, the more I was able to let go. You see, Satan is powerless if Jesus is around. And He was with me. I felt His presence so often during this time and I was filled up spiritually. I put on the armor of God through the power of Jesus, and when that happens, Satan hides. As soon as my daily routine began though, satan was right back on my shoulder poking me in every way he could. I was an easy target… and most days I gave in and fell over. Crying my heart out. Climbing back up from a pit of stress which satan has painted with glue is not something you can do on your own.

I slowly but safely began to take my first baby steps in slow motion.

You must crawl before you can walk…

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And I was crawling. By the time I realized I needed help desperately, my body, soul, mind and spirit was about as low as it could get. My body was tense and aching. Massages had no impact on my muscles at all. My eye was twitching. My soul was wandering in a desert with no aim, my mind couldn’t stay focused on one thing and my spirit was just – down. Broken. All energy, and I do mean all the energy I could master, was directed at my daughter, trying desperately to get her back on track. Little did I realize at the time, that unless I got back on my feet, she wouldn’t either. But after my doctor’s visit I had an aim, I had a purpose and I had a tool. But perhaps most importantly; I chose my counselor. Instead of relying on human efforts and research and well documented science, I already had my counselor ready at hand; Jesus. He never sleeps, he is on call 24/7 and He always knows what is best.

After that first night of good sleep I had enough energy to decide on a plan that would structure my day. The plan had to fit into my life as it was at the time and the only time I had alone were the early mornings. The morning after, I woke up at 4 am (naturally as I couldn’t sleep anyway), got up and brewed myself a cup of coffee. The home was quiet and it was still dark outside. Such peace. I grabbed the “Jesus Calling” book and read the page for the day. That took me about 20 minutes to get through. I had trouble reading because everything in my body was tired and barely working. I laid the book down, fell over and had no words to speak a prayer. My mind had no clue what to say, so my heart whispered in silence “Jesus”. If you are a believer then you know that Jesus hears every word your heart whispers and He heard my cry… I have no idea what happened, honestly, but at that point the floodgates opened and I cried. That was about it. I didn’t say “heavenly Father”. I didn’t say “amen”. The coffee that morning got cold before I came back to my senses, but I had heard a silent reply to my call.

I repeated the early morning time with Jesus the following morning and after a 3rd day on sleeping pill, I no longer had trouble reading the devotional. I swear that book spoke the exact words I needed to hear on that particular day. Without realizing it, I chose to pray in silence. My heart was speaking to Jesus and He was right there listening. I sometimes could feel His presence surrounding me and I always felt peace during this time with my chosen counselor. My stress began to decrease, but my stressors were very much still around me. I had a long way to go and I was still just crawling. After 3 days on sleeping pills I stopped and the muscle relaxing medicine should begin to help me sleep. It took some time before they truly began to have an effect, but once they did, I got about 4 to 6 hours of sleep at night which was a huge improvement from before. Even though it was not optimal. I continued my prayer mornings and some mornings I just cried on the sofa. Some mornings I asked questions, got angry, letting it all out in a matter of speaking. Then there were other mornings, when I was sipping my coffee and watching the sun rise while talking to my best friend. Despite having been Christian for quite some time at this point, I don’t think I really understood the true meaning of “a relationship with Jesus” until then. Jesus did not lay words on my heart at this time. He was just there. Like the perfect friend who never runs out of energy.

I finally began to walk and I named my morning prayer time “coffee mornings with Jesus”. Quite a few friends has found it amusing that I call it that. But it is my private personal intimate time with my best friend and counselor. Time wise it fits us both and speaking with Jesus while watching His sun rise is about as wonderful and awe struck you can get.

I had a stress disorder and my coffee mornings with Jesus had only just begun. I had no idea just how much it would take to get me up and past the disorder. But the only way forward was changing the circumstances and my worries were still controlling me. But I could stand up. I could walk. I even had energy to play with my daughter again. I wasn’t just “there, napping on the sofa” anymore. I was around her and with her. At that point, my heart went from asking questions beginning with “why” – to having a true gratefulness in my heart for every little tiny blessing.

I had no idea where the road forward would lead me and my family, but I knew I wasn’t walking it alone.

Stress – first signs…

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First signs of stress can be a variety of little things you simply choose to ignore, because after all – we just live in stressful world and that’s just the way it is. Get used to it.

Don’t bet on it. Stress begins small and grows over time without you even noticing the changes. Or it can be triggered by something big happening in your life; calamities, life events or even just a friend’s tough times that will make you “think”.

I’m no expert, don’t have a degree in psychology, never worked with stressed people – but believe me, I’ve been all the way down. And back up. But if it weren’t for my Emmanuel, then I’m not sure I would have made it out of the woods.

My stress began on 3.11.2011 in Japan when the world beneath began to shake and it seemed like an endless quake. The cupboards, closets and bookcases contents was as shaken up as I was.  I kept the cool head… Silly me, trying to stay calm but that’s what I have always been told; Stay calm and get a look at what is really going on. Well, getting a look at what was really going on only made my head spin; Tsunami… seeing the people, cars, houses, boats just floating on and on and on. I thought – surely it must be stopped by that next wall – but the water just crushed and moved everything. As did my emotions. I remember praising my Lord that I was with my daughter at the time and grandpa. But my heart was aching for all those families who suffered way more than I ever did. After that, then came the nuclear disaster… Keeping up with information, learning about radiation in foods, air and what comes after that was more than what my brain capacity wanted to deal with. Seriously… But I had no choice. I had a 4 year old girl who needed food not contaminated and most Japanese people around me simply chose not to learn for themselves but simply trust the Japanese media. Okay, each person makes their own choices, but I chose the hard one. I don’t regret that. Not one bit. But 3.11.2011 Eastern Japan Earthquake was the onset of my stress, emotional imbalance, lower immune system etc.

What came next I didn’t anticipate at all. My daughter began gradually getting more and more sad to go to her kindergarten. One of the biggest stressors in life is the life as a parent. And a sad child makes a sad mom. I tried everything I could to get to the source of her sadness and spoke to her teacher multiple times. One evening my daughter broke down in tears and begged me never to take her back to her kindergarten and then I learned how her teacher had been shaking her arm while asking her questions she couldn’t answer. My husband and I then decided to pull her out. Dealing with the food safety and sorting through all the many various informations out there during that first time after the earthquake was time consuming in itself and now having a, at that time, 4 year old around 24/7 was adding to the stress. I was gradually going down without actually noticing it. I kept on telling myself, like a scratched old vinyl record “I just have to make it through to the Christmas party”… and I did. Barely. By that time I was sleeping max. 2 to 3 hours pr. night. My body was aching, I was snapping at everyone and found myself not being able to keep up with the information flow about the radiation. I was napping on the sofa during daytime, and my daughter would cover me with a blanket. She took better care of me during that time, than I did of her. I love my daughter and look back on that time with a nasty feeling of guilt. I knew something was wrong and I began asking myself “what is happening to me” over and over again. I didn’t understand that the sleep deprivation, motherhood (I did actually feed my daughter and talked to her too during that time) and the guilt of leaving her to a kindergarten teacher without realizing something was terribly wrong before it was too late, the hunt for real information on foods as well as keeping up appearance to friends and family, was sending me straight down the evil spiral of – stress! At that time I was unable to even read a book because the letters floated together on the pages and my mind couldn’t grasp the meaning of the sentences. At this time, almost a year had passed since 3.11.2011.

Finally, my husband spoke up and sent me to see my doctor to get some sleeping pills. Now I am not a fan of those but I knew I needed help. My doctor knew me and my history and family life and once I was there, we had a good long talk. He didn’t have any doubt about the diagnosis: Stress disorder. He prescribed me some muscle relaxing medicines as well as a few sleeping pills to get me back on track. He also, knowing that I have faith in Jesus, gave me a book called “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. That book became my counsel and my breath of life for a period of time. The first night I slept for a full 6 hours and I felt like a whole new person. That was my onset to the road of recovery.