A Letter to My Beautiful Mind

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Shaley Hoogendorn -Dear Mind3By Shaley Hoogendoorn | Twitter: @shaleyhoogs 

Dear Mind,

I used to hate you. I felt betrayed by you. I hated the way you turned my life into two moods—either dark depression or frenzied anxiety.

I felt like you had chosen this path for us and I hated you for that.

I despised the way you chose two seasons for how we moved through the world. Winter was the worst. In winter you told me to hide inside and sleep. I didn’t feel like I was enough or ever could be. You went numb. I didn’t feel like I could ever be entirely present. I hated that. During these endless months you played dark songs on repeat. I heard shame and regret. Deep wounds. Songs with hopeless lyrics. Lyrics that robbed all joy and peace.

I hated you for winter, all winter long.

Every winter.

But then the seasons changed and you’d flip the tape. Suddenly the songs were loud but so upbeat, they jolted me into new thinking. You played songs of big love and bright light. I no longer wanted to sleep the days away. I had ALL the ideas, ALL at once. BIG DREAMS and BIG PLANS. These songs were bright and held all the colours of the rainbow. I thanked you for them. But soon they would come at me so fast, I couldn’t focus, function or even breathe. I would flit from here to there to everywhere. The endless thoughts kept me up all night planning and all day creating. You made me believe I needed little sleep. You convinced me I needed to quickly do all the things.

I saw red. I was on fire.

I was quick to anger and lash out at the ones I loved most. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t keep up. I was sure if they would just join the party, they would see all the hopes and plans. Some jumped in and tried to keep up, but they couldn’t hear my manic songs. They always left before I was finished.

I was so tired. I searched out help but you didn’t let me tell me the whole story. The story of two seasons. The doctors thought we were just anxious and prescribed meds for that. They introduced us to Zoloft. This powerful medicine didn’t pick sides and at first it made us feel shiny and new. Remember how it would rewind and fast forward emotions without warning? Remember how we would twist and twirl? We no longer needed rest. We were so proud of all we could accomplish. We were unstoppable. Zoloft was good to us, until it wasn’t. Zoloft felt beautiful, until it was terrible. Eventually we stopped sleeping altogether and our moves became jerky and all wrong.

I blamed you for the downward spiral. I blamed you when we couldn’t catch our breath in the dark of the night. We fell hard. We fell so hard that we ended up in the emergency room in the middle of the night. Our body failed us. We couldn’t recover on our own.

I blamed you for what happened next. I blamed you in the waiting. I knew sluggish and I knew fast and furious. At least those ways were familiar. This was not. I hated this new way. This new way exposed our weakness and made us feel needy and helpless. It was in those days of slowly coming down and off Zoloft that I saw you and your struggle.

My dear Mind, I didn’t know you were limited to creating high highs and low lows. I didn’t know you didn’t have the right chemical balance. You only knew how to go up and down and back and forth. You were missing things you desperately needed. I didn’t know your circuits were disrupted. I didn’t know you needed specific medicine to fill the gaps and find balance.

There was deep fear and healing in our diagnosis. Claiming our mental illness made us feel vulnerable, but also a little less alone. We tried on those terrifying new words. Mood disorder. Heavy words like Bipolar 2. Words we knew would cause fear, confusion and judgment from ourselves and others. We needed to heal and could no longer care what people think.

Slowly we saw that we could be set free. Free to step into our true self.

I no longer blame you. I no longer hate you. I didn’t know how much you were hurting. I didn’t know you were trying your best. I see now how we are connected and that you are my greatest ally. We no longer have to dread the changing seasons.

We get to choose our own songs now. We have so many choices. We can dance slow or upbeat but now with moves of great purpose. We can sit in our pain and not let it drown us. We can live in great joy and excitement without the inevitable crash. We can fully participate in the grand plans God has for us.

We know without a doubt that we are all kinds of crazy. The good kind. The kind that tells a story. The kind that searches for others in their darkness. The kind that stands in the brave, beautiful and daring. The kind that seeks freedom and believes in better tomorrows.

Dear Mind, we got this.

___________________

About Shaley:

Shaley HoogendoornShaley grew up in Northern BC in her family-built log home with loads of brothers. Her childhood was filled with snow, skates, hockey and huskies. Shaley has always had a small town heart with big city dreams. She is married to Rob and put down roots in PoCo with their smart and sassy tween girls. Shaley has no inner monologue, never follows a recipe and has the biggest hair in any room. Hands down.
Shaley invests her heart into her family, her community and her world. She works as an elementary school teacher and an event planner. She is fiercely passionate about helping the next generation become peacemakers and world changers. She brings beauty and order to Women’s Events and everyday life. She believes in sisterhood and women telling their stories without judgement. She follows Jesus and believes that love always ALWAYS wins.
Come follow her ramblings on Instagram at @shaley_hoogs and @messybeautywithshaley

 

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  • Melaney G Lyall

    My dear friend!! How long have we needed to hear your story… your place of holiness. I love you friend. I’m so proud of you. Your vulnerability is pure gift and your journey is healing others! You are a true woman of valor xo

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Thank you my sweet friend!!! You always know just what to say to warm my heart. Your words mean so much. Knowing that strong women like you standing behind me makes me brave. xo

  • I’m with Mel. Bravo on telling your story and standing strong and owning your truth, so others may also find freedom. Love you, xo

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      ❤️ Love you right back! Thank you for always listening and wanting to learn more. Together we will #stopthestigma.

  • Shaley! Wow! This is beautiful. I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for telling your story – and so vividly. Thank you for sharing your hope. Xoxo

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Thank you Olive! It was hard to share but so necessary to talk about. Your support touches my heart. xo

  • Kelley J. Leigh

    Shaley. This was a brave and clear piece of beauty. Thank you for digging deep and allowing so much vulnerable truth to spill out. Your story contains so much hope and empowerment. I am touched and inspired.

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      I’m so glad Kelley❤ Thank you!

  • Robin Baldwin

    What a beautiful, raw, honest letter about this disease. Thank you for sharing your story with such grace and humility.

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Thanks you Robin! Your comment makes me feel braver. Putting your full messy self out there is scary. xx

  • Tracy Nelson

    so good, Shaley – wow.

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Thanks Friend! xo

  • ivy

    you broke the chain of self-stigma. powerful yet tender. love you & bless you, shaley!

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      ❤ Thank you Ivy!

  • Helen

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with such honesty and vulnerability. These words encourage each of us to be more loving and gentle with each other and with ourselves.

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Isn’t it so much easier to be gentle on others than ourselves? It took me a very long time to love and accept my story.

  • Saskia Wishart

    Oh this hits my heart in the right places this morning. Thank you for this beautiful telling.

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      I’m so glad. I was so nervous to share but comments like yours make me so glad I did. 💜

  • Shaley, your perspective is so enlightening — powerful, really. Thank you.

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Thank you Michelle.

  • sgibsonneve .

    This post is so courageous and bold. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      ❤️

  • Sherry Naron

    Oh Shaley, so brave of you and the world should be grateful! #stopthestigma. If everyone could really just grasp these words:

    “My dear Mind, I didn’t know you were limited to creating high highs and low lows. I didn’t know you didn’t have the right chemical balance. You only knew how to go up and down and back and forth. You were missing things you desperately needed. I didn’t know your circuits were disrupted. I didn’t know you needed specific medicine to fill the gaps and find balance.”

    So good. So proud of you!

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Thank you Sherry! I pray that these conversations open up minds and hearts. xo

  • Roos Woller

    Thanks for sharing this friend for being bave and honest about a subject that is not talked about nearly enough.

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      I am so excited that we are continuing to address and discuss mental illness in our SheLoves community. I know so many suffer in silence and desperately want them to know they are not alone. I am so grateful for your willingness to travel through this with me. Love you! xo

  • sandyhay

    Oh Shaley, I look at your photo and smile wide. I hear your voice and smile more. God has helped you be so brave and for this the world is most grateful. xoxo

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      You make me smile too. xo

  • Alaina Mazur

    AH-MAZING!!! Love you Shaley!!

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      ❤️

  • Yayyy Shaley!!! I loved this.

    I especially love these two thoughts:
    “We get to choose our own songs now. We have so many choices.” <— Thank goodness.

    "We can sit in our pain and not let it drown us." <— I'm working so hard at this too.

    xoxo

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Thank you Friend. It’s the hardest place to sit isn’t it? Reminding myself I have choices is a daily occurrence. Big hugs to you❤️

  • Nichole Bilcowski Forbes

    You are my favourite!
    I love how you own your crazy – the very best kind of crazy! I’m so flipping proud of you!
    ❤️💙❤️

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Right back at ya! Thanks for all the love. You truly have the gift of encouragement. xo

  • Larra

    So, so, so good! Being there with you through a lot of this and now hearing you tell your story has been prayers answered before my eyes. Thank you for not stopping this fight, for yourself, for your girls, for your marriage, for your friends and for your enemies! You have not stopped one day in this fight for hope and peace and that is no little thing. Thank you! Hugs from far, Larra

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      You are making me cry over here! You are such an amazing supportive friend. Thank you for ALWAYS being there and willing to sit with me in the mess and in the healing. I always feel better after a long talk with you. Love you to the moon 🌙 and back. xo

  • Jane miller

    Shaley .. I worked with your Mom for many years in the NICU and applaud you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us .. It is such a hard thing to do .. With a grand daughter who has some anxiety issues it is good to know how people feel .. I truly believe the more dialogue we share the better it will be … Jane

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Thank you Jane! I love that you are learning more for your granddaughter. Family support makes all the difference. 💕

  • Olivia Butz

    Mmhmm. Amen.

    What a redemptive transformation in how you learned to work with (“you are my greatest ally”) your mind. Praise Jesus.

    • Shaley Hoogendoorn

      Yes! 🙌

  • This is amazing.

  • This is so amazing, Shaley! Absolutely beautiful!