My Story

Well, it’s officially been over a month since I’ve posted. As much as I said I wouldn’t quit and I didn’t care about other’s criticisms, I’m not going to lie, it drained me. I am back. Refreshed. Ready to do it again.

For the past few years in January I’ve been participating in a fast. Not to lose weight but as a spiritual discipline to grow closer to God. Today, I am on day 4 of my Daniel fast in 2016. Already on the fourth day I’ve seen the hand of God on my life in a mighty way. I sat down to write earlier since it had been so long and I couldn’t. I decided to take a bath. (For those of you who know me know I love long baths and I tend to disappear reading or praying, for a long time.) So as I was talking to God I was given an idea. I feel that He wants me to share my testimony. This is scary for me and I’ve never shared my complete testimony with  anyone. I’ve spent the past three nights at church in corporate prayer and worship. On Tuesday night, Steve Hage, (Google him he’s awesome!) was leading, and he called up anyone who felt called to evangelize. He prayed over me and the power of the Holy Spirit was so strong that I fell to the ground. I have always known that God was going to use me to lead people to the Lord in some way but I still don’t know how. So far, it just seems really hard and that a lot of people just think I’m a hypocrite. So here goes, my story. I apologize in advance if it’s longer than a typical blog. I’ll try to stick to the important things.

I grew up in a typical, middle class, American home. I don’t remember a lot of my childhood. I think I’ve either blocked it out or I was just too screwed up. (Sigh… deep exhale. This is tough.) Disclaimer: if you feel this is not how it happened, you can blame it on my unsound mind. My father wasn’t like – well, like my husband is with his daughter. She’s his princess. She can do no wrong. She adores him. He hangs on her every word. You know the kind of daddy you see in a Hallmark movie? Growing up, my dad was angry. He’d lose his temper at the drop of the hat. We walked on eggshells around him because we never knew when he’s snap or why. He was abusive and scary and unpredictable. I was never allowed to be me. (He has changed over the years and is now an excellent grandfather.) I recall begging my mom to let me live in foster care. She, of course, never did anything to stop those terrifying outbreaks. I never heard “I love you” or “I’m proud of you”.

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I remember a lot of people dying. A lot. I think I just got desensitized to death. My brother and I started guessing who’d go next. I started to think I was bad luck and that I was causing people to die. My only happy memories of childhood were when my younger brother and sister were born. I was happy a couple of times when I was given a pet but it was only a matter of weeks before my dad would shoot it. Maybe that’s why I don’t like animals now? I don’t know. As my teen years approached, I got darker and darker. Overwhelmed with the thoughts of the life I was told I would live. I wouldn’t go to college because I was a girl and girl’s become moms and wives. I watched my mother fill that role to a T. She seemed dead inside. She cooked and cleaned and made sure we were acting the way she thought he wanted us to at the time. When she wasn’t being Suzy Homemaker, she was in her room depressed. She was never happy unless she was drunk. But then neither was my dad. Things felt hopeless.

I was raised catholic. I went to a catholic school until 6th grade. I never knew God there. There was no relationship. I started going to two catholic small/youth groups around 15, where I got a glimpse of God. I met people there that actually cared about me on a deeper level. I am still friends with some of these people today. Yet, I became more and more dissatisfied with life. I felt hopeless. Angry inside. Unloved. Unaccepted. And unable to escape.

I started cutting and I stopped eating. They say depression is anger turned inside out. I never wanted to hurt anyone else but I didn’t know how to cope so I hurt myself. I didn’t think anyone else could accept me or love me. I walked around knowing inside that I was constantly disappointing everyone I came into contact with. By 16, I was getting drunk every weekend. Most of the time my parents provided the supplies. They also allowed my boyfriend at the time to spend the night. He was doing things to me that I wasn’t ready for and didn’t understand and I couldn’t get away.  At 16, I tried committing suicide three times. The last time almost worked and landed me in a mental institute after my stomach was pumped and I was stabilized. I think I spent a couple of weeks there. From then on, it’s more of a blur as I was forced to take drug after drug to make me normal. I was diagnosed a Manic Depressive, Seasonally Depressed, Situationally Depressed, Anorexic, and suicidal. I heard over and over how I had chemical imbalances and it was nothing to be ashamed of. The pills would make me better. But they made me fat and numb. I had no emotion. When I tried to take myself off them, they made me sick. It was later determined that I was Bipolar and the meds they were giving me were actually making me worse.

I was introduced to God at a Young Life camp my junior year of high school. I knew I loved him and I knew he was significant but I couldn’t figure out how to live right. No one ever showed me. I continued to attend Young Life through the rest of high school. I gave my life to Christ there. I also visited a church that changed my whole perspective on religion. I renounced my catholic faith at 17.

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If you know someone who is Bipolar you can slightly understand. But unless you live through it you cannot completely understand. You can be extremely happy one minute, crying the next, and impossible to live with. You don’t even know why you do the things you do and are completely irrational. I was incapable of having a functional relationship. My body looked totally normal but I was a mess inside ! I couldn’t function.

After high school, I went to college for a two years, still on and off meds and in and out of therapy. I was dating a guy at the time who broke up with me unexpectedly after five and a half years. In my young world, he was all I had, and it tore me apart again. I now can’t believe he stayed with me that long! I felt like I had to get away. I volunteered at a Young Life camp in New York that Summer and God worked out all the details so that I could do it. When I came home I was on fire for God. I started hanging out with a positive group of people for a while. I just didn’t feel like I really fit in because, you know, they were saved by 3 years old. They had perfect home lives and perfect, Christian parents, and I was screwed up.

I found an ad for a flight attendant open house and I went. My whole family told me how stupid I was (I think pretty much everything I’ve ever done was stupid to them.) I went anyway. I got the job. I went to Colorado for training. There, I met the father of my son, Malachi. I fell madly in love with him. We travelled the world together. We dated roughly three years while working together in Chicago then Phoenix. I was still drinking heavily all the time. I took myself off the meds. I loved my job and living in Phoenix and my boyfriend. Then, at 25, I got pregnant. Boyfriend left me. Had to move back to MI with mom and dad. I was alone with this baby growing inside me. My life consisted of drugs and alcohol and traveling. That was gone too. That’s when I found Jesus. I went back to that church a friend invited me to, as a teen, and became a member. This time I gave my life to Christ and I meant it. Everything changed. God supplied all of my needs. He helped me work through the unforgiveness in my heart. I named my baby Malachi which means “messenger of God”. He was a huge message! I don’t know where I’d be today if he didn’t come along. I still struggled with the Bipolar Disorder but I also was learning about what God said I was in Him.

After he was born, I was working three jobs to try to get us out of my parent’s house. I also went back to finish college. I was doing all of this completely alone. At one of my jobs I met the man who would become my first husband. I knew then that the marriage wasn’t God’s best for me. I knew I was just desperate to find a daddy for my son. We got married a couple of years later. I then had my second son, Noah.

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When Noah was 4 weeks old, my husband broke his arm and 4 ribs. He admitted to it. Life changed real fast. He was forced to leave our home. I was threatened by CPS that I had to divorce him or I’d lose my babies. I was forced to file a PPO. I didn’t even know what that was prior to this. CPS started visiting my home unannounced whenever they felt like it to check up on me for the next year and a half. Along with CPS I had people from Families First as well as Bethany’s Christian Services coming over every single week. Sometimes more than once. I had to jump through a lot of hoops to just keep my own children and I didn’t do anything wrong. This was the hardest time in my life. God used this time to draw me to him. I quit drinking. I was completely released and healed of any mental disorder. I am proud to say that I now have a sound mind. I am joyful. I love the Lord. I do not care what anyone thinks because I know what He did for me. Now it’s time for me to give back to Him.

Malachi is now nine years old. I am happily remarried. We attend church regularly. I lead a small group. I no longer live in bondage to any mental illness. Although I don’t really like my mommy body, I accept it. I take care of it. I take care of my kids. And my husband’s kids. We raise them up in the way they should go. I know that God is working all of these things out for my good. I know I am His. I know, with all of my heart, that with God ALL things are possible! If you face any mental illness just know that God can and will heal you. Doctors will tell you it’s not possible but I am walking proof that it is.

5 thoughts on “My Story”

  1. Hi Julie, I am so amazed by your openness, your honesty, your love for God. I sure looked for you up front with Steve but I didn’t see you. Glad that you went forward. Keep doing what you know you are called to do. And keep smiling 🙂 . Love to you friend

  2. God is Good! He is healer! I also know what it is like to feel like I don’t fit in. All the Christians with the good family background. Know that you KNOW GOD in a much deeper way then most other people.

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