Thursday, September 07, 2006

3 Years New

From an article on smh today: Professor Gordon Parker, the executive director of the Black Dog Institute at The Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, puts it this way: "When perfectionists get depressed, they are less likely to seek help, and have greater difficulty in surrendering control.

"The situation is a very poignant one, where an individual feels their self-esteem or standards have been impugned. They frequently move into black-and-white thinking - 'I've either got to solve the problem immediately or there's no way out' - but they don't tend to see a third option or fourth option, Professor Parker says.

"When they develop any suicidal ideation they are more at risk because they are beating up on themselves so much."

I can confess that I used to be a bit of a perfectionist myself actually. When I was in primary school I was (honestly) usually one of the smartest in my class. I found that when you were smart - teachers liked you, and other students wanted to be your friend. What a great deal!

We moved a lot when I was little. At one stage I had five schools in five years. Anyone remember how tough it is being the new kid? I started trying to get very smart, to try to impress the teachers and kids straight away so that I could fit in as quickly as possible. I very much built my self esteem on being 'that smart kid'.

But that didn't last forever. The next thing I tried was being 'that happy girl'. That one worked well! Lots of people want to be friends with the happy girl! As long as she's happy that is. I had a tough time in highschool hey? But I don't think that's unique to me, most people I speak to had a rough time in high school. People deal with things in all different ways. I dealt with things by hiding them. After all, who knows when you're going to have to make new friends again - and who wants to be friends with the sad new kid? The complicated kid?

I had smiley face earrings, smiley face pencil case, signed my signature with a Mr Happy... I was friends with everyone, didn't get offended when people were nasty to me, didn't cry when people made fun of me, invited the whole world to my birthday parties... but it was all just a front. A big front! On the outside I might have been smiley Amy the cheerful happy girl, but I was crying inside. I recently found my old diaries from high school and cried at the amount of hurt and pain I felt just reading through them. Sure I had friends, but how could I ever know if they really liked me? I knew (even if they didn't) that they didn't really know the real Amy, they just knew the front, the smile, the mask. If they knew the real me...

I thought about suicide a lot. A lot. I wrote about it in my diary, I researched it in the library and in newspapers (no internet back then), and listened to songs about it. I planned so many ways how it could be done. It frightens me deeply to think about how many times I came close to attempting to end my own life. I felt like things needed to be fixed, and fixed properly and immediately. The article I quoted above really resonated with me.

All through high school and then through uni I kept placing my identity, my sense of self-worth, on what other people thought of me. If they thought I was okay, well then maybe I was. If that boy liked me, then maybe I was likable. If that boy used me, then that meant I was valuable. If that boy dumped me, then that meant I was worthless - as I had sescretly suspected all along.

One of my good friends, a friend I considered very similar to me, with the same self-esteem views, changed all of a sudden. Her life changed. We'd been living together, and then when I moved out she started hanging out with our neighbours, and going to their church. She stopped seeing boys who were no good for her, settled down on a good job - the obvious outside things changed. But more than that, I saw her life really change. I saw her change inside, where it counts. All of a sudden she wasn't hurting anymore, she wasn't doubting herself anymore, she wasn't searching for validation anymore.

I wanted that.

I wanted an end to the loneliness that comes from hiding your true self and then mourning that nobody knows your true self. An end to the endless nights crying myself to sleep, and wondering how I could ever break out of this cycle of ups and downs, this all or nothing depression and bleakness. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm being needlessly dramatic here, I don't even know how to put enough emotion into these words to convey to you just how dead end my life felt at that time. My sense of value was placed on what other people thought of me, but they didn't know the real me, so in my deluded sadness I couldn't think that anyone would value me at all, and so I didn't value myself either.

I called my friend, and asked her how she had changed her life. Her answer was so simple and sounded so cliched that I think I laughed.
Her: "Jesus healed me."
I was so desperate for something to change that I decided to reach out to see if this would work.
Me: "Well, er... do you think it would work for me too?"

She took me to her church, and to be honest it didn't impress me. The pastor seemed to be saying stuff that any motivational speaker could have told me. The people put their hands in the air and closed their eyes when they sung - how weird! Nobody talked to me, even when she left me to go sing on the stage. I sat by myself and pretended to send texts on my phone so I wouldn't look like the loser I felt I was. I nearly left in tears - why did I think these people would value me, how could these people value me? Why would they? But my friend took me home to her place afterwards, where she lived with the pastor and his wife. His wife sat me down and asked me to open my heart to Jesus. She asked me to ask for His help to let go of all the anger and the bitterness and the offence, all the hurt and the sadness and the grudges, all of the old ideas and misguided sense of self worth and the terrible terrible pain.

And I did. It took hours, quite a few hours, but I did. And my beautiful friend and this lovely lady sat with me and prayed with me and introduced me to Jesus. And he healed me too. And now I'm more whole and more complete than I ever thought I could be.

So now I know that it's not what anyone else thinks of me that matters - because God loves me. He rescued me because he delighted in me. He formed me in my mothers womb, and named me before I was even born. He orders my steps, and hems me in behind and before. He has plans for me, to prosper me and not to harm me. I was created in his image, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

3 years ago to this day, I was truly born again. 3 years new! Praise God. Every day I thank him for my life, but I also let him know that I am truly, truly grateful that he gave me my life back again: because when even I didn't value my life, he always did.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Glorious day!

It's my birthday today! I love birthdays - have I mentioned that yet? Especially mine ;-) I like being treated like a princess every day really, but it's only one day a year when I actually demand it. (Ex boyfriends opinions may differ on that point) (but that's why they're ex!!)

Today started off beautifully.
Thank you so much to everyone who phoned, messaged, emailed, posted and loved. You are all so special! I felt so loved today!

Check out my desk at work today.


See the detail on the posters - these made me laugh all day long!

Friday, September 01, 2006


It's my birthday on Monday!!

I don't really have anything more to say than that - but it's so exciting that I felt it deserved a whole post. (I love birthdays!)

Please note my (ahem) wish list on the right... should you feel like celebrating my birthday with me... ;-)

Andrew showing a remarkable lack of concern at my impending birthday....