Sunday, September 15, 2013

National Come Back To Church Day


I've talked a few times before about living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder aka PTSD. It comes from living through a trauma  and various things can contribute to triggering your body and mine to feel as if it's going through the trauma all over again. In the military is used to known as SHELL SHOCK, however it happens to many people outside of the military as well. To make a long story short, I'll just speak in generalities.
       My trauma  came to a head June 20 2008. The next day I had the breakdown in a leadership meeting at one of the local ward houses. About month later the bishop who took me in, got me the help I needed, checked up to make sure I had access to the people, resources and tools I needed, took his own life behind our home ward building.  This added another layer to the disorder.  Because I'm necrophobic. I have a hard time dealing or seeing  the body of a person after their spirit had departed. A couple of months after that one of the women I visit taught had a family member committed suicide. Needless to say I lost a huge block of life between June 2008 and now.  The things that trigger and relapse me back into PTSD:  Older White Males (ESPECIALLY in Suites or business attire) The Month Of June, and Church Buildings.  

Some of  the physical effects of PTSD:

Nausea, blurred or foggy vision, sweats, rapid breathing & heart beat, over anxiousness, nervousness, body aches, forgetfulness, unclear thinking.  I go through the first 5 of these when I go to church.  The symptoms don't last just a few hours. They last for days at a time. Even writing and talking about it brings on the physical and emotional repercussions of the issue.

 However, telling your story helps to heal you and it helps to heal other people..

Now On with the Show!

   Today, Sunday September 15,2013 is National Come Back To Church Day!

 I've been on Hiatus Off and on for 5 years (Since  6/23/2008.) Sometimes I've been every week for several months in a row and  sometimes I've not been in over a year. Sometimes I got to different wards other than my own. I've moved 3 times. The last time I moved I purchased a Condo cuz I got sick of moving. My Sister moved in with me and she is currently the Primary President in our ward.
 Today was my first time in our ward.  I've been psyching myself up for WEEKS to make sure I'm in the state of mind to make it to church today. I was actually going to go last week because it was stake conference and I would be a little less "zoomed in on" and could disappear into the crowd. Well, I mean as much as a black member in a predominantly  white congregation can "blend."  I would probably make more of an attempt in the passed to make into the building but being black and LDS we are those rare Pearls of Great Price

and being "Incognegro" in Utah is a chore.

 When I got up this morning the Nausea wasn't so bad.  I made sure to eat something just in case.
   About an hour before church I started getting dressed.  I was talking to my sister about our puppy Jake Dude-Action not getting to the dog park enough so I'm sure she thought I was getting ready to take him to the park.   Being Primary Prez she took off before I was dressed.
   I got dressed, threw on some make up. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and took a deep breath. The nausea set in so quickly so I ran and found a piece of peppermint gum. (The times I do go to church I take mints. Most of the time it keeps my stomach soothed enough to keep e from vomiting at church.)
   I went back to the mirror and gave myself  "THE TALK:"
You are safe.  You have the knowledge to take charge of any situation. You have the tools to cope with whatever comes your way. No matter the outcome of your experience take pride in knowing you made the steps to break down another wall.  NOW GO, YOU"RE LATE!"
Photo: I was trying to be sneaky. Does it look like I'm up to something?

I put a smile on my face, grabbed my purse and scriptures and out the door I went.
  The Relief Society Presidency can to visit with my sister abt 7 months ago when she left the singles ward and started going to our family ward.  I spoke with them about my situation and they were very understanding and compassionate to my situation. I wondered how they would handle the situation  A couple of weeks after their visit I got a call from a Visiting Teaching companion I didn't know that I had. It was actually a bit too much not having stepped foot in the ward building or knowing anyone from the ward. I felt a little bit like Katniss at the reaping in hunger games just expected to do what I was told or called to do. This didn't work for me and I silently protested by not accepting the calling.

    The goal was to attend 1 hours of church. The reason I'm going with 1 hour for now is because when I go for more than that, which I have before, I get SO sick that it's that sick feeling that I'm stuck with each week. It's not how I want to remember each Sunday. When I do 1 hour I leave just as I being to feel ill but it doesn't over power the great things about being there for 1 hour.  Thank goodness our first hour is Relief Society.  A sorority of Sisters, THANK GOODNESS!!!
 I accomplished my goal. And it felt good. It's 6 hours later and I'm still nauseated, but it's not so overwhelming that I'm fixated over it. It should subside about Wednesday, just in time to start pumping myself up for next Sunday.
    It sounds bad, having to pump myself up for church.  Those looking for ways to bash our church, any church or organized religion in general will jump all over that. Meh, find something better and worth while to do. Because for a while I had to make the same kind of baby step goals just to get out of bed in the morning. In the early weeks of the breakdown I couldn't even step out of the house to get the mail.  I had goals that were just to get out of bed and eat. Then get out of bed,  shower and get dressed and eat. I freaked out on the Greeter at a Walmart 2 weeks after the initial break down.  So I've come a long way, baby!
       I know I've build up a safe little community with walls a mile thick. 5 years later only certain people are allowed into that community.  People have taken it upon themselves to "help"  break down my walls. Perhaps in other situations help is needed and welcome and expected.  PTSD is so delicate. Many of us don't need the attention or the focus on us. This is one wall I need to being to break down myself and if others try to do it, it leaves me exposed.  We need to talk about it when we're ready to talk about it and step back out into the world when we're ready to.  For some it's easy for others it's a prison.

  Part of the issue with me going to church is having to explain the issue. Telling the details of the story and triggers is sometimes a trigger itself.  I felt my Relief Society President and my Bishopric needed to know. They need to know why a male home teachers would probably not get into my home. Or if the Bishopric just shows up why they aren't getting in my home.

Telling the story causes your mind and body to go back through the actual events of the trauma. Even though it's a healthy thing and needed thing, you have to go through all the coping skills for days sometimes weeks to feel safe and secure again.  The more you do it the easier it gets  So I know the more I make these goals the better it will.  One truly never is healed from PTSD  our coping skills just strengthen.   In my situation the very people and place most turn to happens to make me sick.
    I have to laugh at the situation sometimes because in reality CHURCH MAKES ME SICK!!

    One of the most priceless things about today was the look on my sister's face when she  happen to look out in the foyer and saw me standing there waiving at her and making funny faces. SURPRISE!!  She came out and greeted me and walked me too Relief Society. She didn't need to. I didn't particularly want her to but I got the feeling that she needed to do it more than i needed her to.

The Relief Society President was pleasantly surprised and she did come and speak with me after.  She address the Visiting Teaching situation and apologized for assuming I was willing and ready to be a visiting teaching with where I'm at. She was gracious and apologetic. Everything she should have been and that will help a great deal in my comfort level of being IN the building.  

 For the most part I'm feeling accomplished.
 I'm grateful for having access to all the learning materials and lessons online. The church is brilliant that way for those of us who can't or are unwilling to get to an actual building and deal with the members, because lets be honest, there are times when we love the church and hate the members in it and some days it's the opposite. One thing I've learned from this is you can never judge a person as to why they do or do not attend church meetings. If our goal is Zion, Zion has to be born internally in our hearts and minds before it can be achieved externally.  Be kind to those who come back to church. Don't be over bearing. A smile and a hand shake is just enough. Some people need to be zero'd in on and others just need space to get used to the atmosphere and marinate for a while to get comfortable.  Take ques from them and don't be afraid to offer what you think may be needed. Always offer. .What they do with that offering is up to them. Some will use it, some will not. If you offer be genuine and you better make time and effort to fulfill your offering.  Things I mostly don't like are when people are so quick with their mouths to offer time, talent and service and then 95% of the time have some excuse or crisis as to why they can't fulfill their own offer. If you don't mean it don't say it.  Don't let your mouth write checks that the rest of you aren't willing to cash.

I'm thankful for National Come back to Church day. It game me more of a goal and a kick start to something I wanted to do but wasn't quite sure of doing.   I hope that next year those who are looking for a way to go back to church, Whichever church that may be, that they take the opportunity to use National Come Back To Church as a guiding tool if you need to. 


s'mee said...

This was a great post. Congratulations, and spiritual hugs!

Anonymous said...

Wow Girl Wow,

I was just going blog to blog from mine. I saw your title, since my 2 early adult daughters are inactive, I paused to read through it.

By the way my girls are bi-racial. I'm of course the pale one here, which is good, who was the only second one in my fam. to join.

My point is it's great to see your blog. I want my girls to check it out. Hopefully inspire them to seek the truth again.

Keep The Faith, He will help you.

Anonymous said...

I am lds and have ptsd too. I don't think a person who hasn't had it can understand. It's hard. On my dads side we go back to Nauvoo on one side and polygamy on the other. My uncles are bishops and a mission president. I'm also single and late thirties. I'm white and have to force myself to go to church, but it is the Savior who has helped me. Some African American coworkers helped me after I was hurt. One coworker really took me in and took care of me. I hope you get feeling better. I am through counseling. If you haven't read Elder Holland's talk it might be helpful to you from conference.

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