Karen: Hello welcome to the C50 podcast. Jay, Becca, Bella and myself all know that mental health is important and those sitting around this table are either diagnosed with a mental illness or support someone who is.
Becca: If you're anything like us, you may be listening to this while you drive, work, clean, or you could be doing many other things. We would encourage you to visit www.C50health.com, where you can follow up with our podcast and get more help.
J: We have worked hard to build C50 into a ministry that can reach those affected by, someone who struggle with mental health and a deeper illness. We believe that a relationship with Christ is key in finding hope. However, we're not professionals. Think on our words, process them but never consider us more important than a doctor or therapist you may be working with. We would love to recommend professionals that value all your needs, putting medication and therapy and will also point to Jesus Christ as the center of your life and the way for healing and taking you from hurt to hope.
Bella: There are a lot of people that give to C50 that make this all possible. We have people praying, many that give financially, people that donate time or space.
J: And as an example, we found a home for the C50 podcast, generously donated for us at McQueen builders in the South Hills of Pittsburgh P.A. Let's call this McQueen studios and this is where we pick up today.
J: Alright, welcome to the C50 podcast and we are back at McQueen studios and we are excited to be here because today is Bella’s story. She is 1/4th of the C50 podcast. Bella, how old are you?
Bella: I am 17.
J: I have it as 16 on the website. So, that's wrong.
Karen: You know what? You're right, I saw [inaudible]. I’m like “Woo, we need to update that”.
J: Yeah. And you are a junior?
J: That's so crazy. I thought you were a senior.
Karen: She probably wishes she was a senior. Oh, yeah. She’s ready to be done.
J: Yeah, right. Absolutely, absolutely. Well, we've had some good feedback with the C50 podcast and what we've been doing. And we just keep trying to get better and better and change things around and so, Bella is our 3rd pod cast and we want to jump right into the story and just let everyone know that we are excited to see what God has done in Bella’s story.
Bella, we want to hear your story and although you're not super old and have years of experience of life, you have a story that in many ways separates you from people that may be do have years of maybe….. I don't know if you would say normal, but just like the experiences that you have had, has given you experience in life. So, tell us a little bit and just back up and just tell us how you grew up, what it was like and just bring us slowly into when things start to get difficult and then we'll just sort of unravel from there and talk about it.
Bella: Okay, so growing up, I think I was a relatively happy child. I had a good relation with my parents, I had a great relationship with my brother sometimes.
J: I saw [inaudible] yesterday and man, he was awesome.
Bella: And even though I wasn’t diagnosed as a young…. I was diagnosed when I was around 12 years old. So, growing up, I didn't think that there was anything wrong but I definitely struggled with what I thought was just worry or nervousness with mainly either sleeping or going to different places or going to school or some sort of change. I think we noticed, was like extremely difficult for me.
J: Okay, so Bella, I really want to interject here. At what age are you already starting to notice that
change is difficult, things like that, sleeping. Well, when did you start to notice that?
Karen: Oh, I'd love to hear this because I know when I noticed it, but I'm curious as to when you did.
Bella: That's a really, really hard question. That definitely would be a better question for my mom but I'll answer. Personally, I've always, as far back as I can remember, it's always [crosstalk]….
J: You’ve never [crosstalk]….
J: Oh, wow.
Bella: I've never known anything different. So, mom?
Karen: So, for me, when it really started hitting home was when she was in preschool. So, there were things that they were doing, say in preschool or videos that they were showing them in preschool. Say it was Fire Prevention Week and you know the firemen come in your preschool and you know, the educational about what to do with a fire and they showed a video and this video seriously affected Bella to the point where I literally had to go to the fire station, me with the fire chief watch the video so I could understand what was going on. But nobody else in her class was really affected like Bella was affected.
So, at such an early age, the littlest things would just spin Bella out of control where she started becoming anxious and worrying about it and it started affecting her daily life and affecting her sleeping; something as simple as watching a fire prevention video. So, at that age, starting in preschool, I noticed that things affected her so much deeper than it did most other kids. But then where it really kind of hit home was in her pediatrician, even noticed it when she was say five. So, getting Bella to go to school, she was always one of those kids who never wanted to go to school and in the first couple weeks of school were always difficult. She always seemed to find a way to work through it, but even at the age of 5, I remember her pediatrician saying to me, “I think your daughter is an anxious child. You may want to consider having her talk to somebody”. And at the time, Bella’s
dad and I were like, “Oh, she’ll grow out of it, she's fine, and she’ll get through it”. Notice that there was something going on but didn't think it was anything we needed to address.
J: This is really interesting, because from my experience, I was what? I think I was 24… she reminded me… before I was diagnosed, learned right after that that especially with borderline, that went way back to when I was a child, Bella’s age, when she was dealing with this. Not 17 Bella. Young Bella, like we're talking about, but I wasn't diagnosed until I was 24. And a lot of times people are diagnosed, even later than Bella. They start to notice signs and like they start to get into it. So, this is early and some people might relate to this and go, “Oh yes, absolutely, that was me”. And other people might say, “Well, I started noticing when I was in high school or college”. So, it comes on at different times, right?
Karen: Without a doubt, without a doubt. So, if it's you that's going through this, I think it's definitely something you need to start paying attention to. But if you're a mom or dad out there and you know that this, you have a young child and he or she seems to be struggling with going to school or just different aspects of life that no one else seems to be struggling with. You just really need to start paying attention to those early warning signs because if this is something you can kind of get a hold on while they're younger, it can make a huge difference in their treatment and the therapy, in getting them on the right track earlier.
I know for Bella and I and I'm sure Bella can jump in here; we thought it was a huge blessing that Bella was diagnosed and we had a better understanding of this at such an early age. Am I right?
Bella: Yeah, 100 percent. I hear of a lot of people that get diagnosed when they're in college or in high school and I was diagnosed when I was still in elementary school. So, I was already put on the medication that was working for me, so when I do end up struggling again, we know exactly what to do. It was awesome because we already know what coping skills worked for me, we already knew basically everything that worked for me, so it wasn't something that I had to learn later on in life when things were more stressful.
J: Yeah and we could talk about that. I really don't want to talk about this too much longer, because I want to get back to Bella’s story. But as a parent, I just think it's so awesome that you guys addressed this at a young age.
Karen: Well, [inaudible] that we do…. we really had no choice, in the sense that, just to jump ahead in Bella’s story. When Bella was 12, her life came to a screeching halt and honestly, we had to address it. We were definitely… we handled it wrong and that's why I'm hoping that there are parents out there listening. We handled it wrong; there were so many warning signs along the way and we just kept saying, “She's going to grow out of it, she's going to grow out of it”. And then once she hit 12, her life truly came to a screeching halt and we had no choice but to address it.
J: Well, let's get to it. I’m sorry that we jumped around there for a little. So, you started to experience sees these things; I mean your mom's talking about fire prevention….
Bella: I still remember that video.
J: No. I mean, I'm the same way. I got things with that are connected to borderline, that when I was 5, still affect me to this day. I'm working through it with a therapist. I mean, it's crazy. So, I get it you know, I get it. So, you started to experience this stuff; when did it start to affect life? Because that's usually when people start to go, “Oh, there's something going on because I can't hold it all together, it’s not manageable for me. Something is happening, I'm falling apart”. So, when did things start to take that turn initially? And I know you've had…. We're going to talk about this, how there were multiple times but it just initially, when was it and how did it happen and what was it like when things really just got out of control?
Bella: So, I was at the time 11. It was my 6th grade year, we were just on break for Thanksgiving, so we were off for a few days and the day we had to go back to school. I woke up and I was just like, “I can’t, I can't go”. It wasn't physically that I couldn't go, just mentally there was this blockage that I just could not go to school. I could not get dressed, I would lock myself in my room and I didn't know why, because I am a very social… I like school, [crosstalk]….
Karen: She have friends, she had no issues at school that as a parent, you would say, “Okay, somebody is bullying you or there’s something going on”. There was nothing going on, there was no reason; she was a good student. It just didn't make any sense but she mentally just could not get there.
J: So, tell us… I'm sorry. Tell us what separates a majority of people that go on Thanksgiving break
and go, “Oh man, it's Monday. I don't want to go back”? And so, your mom…Karen, you're going….
Karen: Suck it up….
J: Suck it up. I mean, it's Monday, we go back to school.
Karen: What are you talking about? Get dressed and let's go.
J: And it's literally so bad that you're locking the door, you can't get dressed. I mean, it's like something flipped.
Bella: Yeah, but I think the difference is, I was on the floor and I physically was perfectly fine, but I physically cannot move. It was almost like I was paralyzed by fear. Not almost like, I was. I was 100 percent paralyzed by fear and the most frustrating part is I didn't know what I was afraid of. I had no idea why this was happening, it was like I was locked in my own body and I no idea what was happening. So, I think the difference between… even to this day, I get up and I’m like “Hoof, Monday, don't want to go to school”. But it's completely different from locking myself in my bedroom, crying shaking, on the floor, cannot get up and move. My mom and my dad had to pull me out of bed, like physically, they're like “You have to go to school”. Because it was like… yeah, they thought I just didn’t want to go to go to school.
J: And so, you didn’t think so. You pulled her out of bed?
Karen: It was a little rough.
J: Yeah, right. But you just make her go to school?
Karen: We did. Again, as I've said and will say it again. We handled this horribly, we totally were not good parents and handled it completely wrong in the beginning, because we have never experienced somebody that was diagnosed with a mental illness, we didn’t get it. We honestly had no clue, we were just like “What is your deal? Get over it, this is something you have to do. Get dressed. Let's go”.
Bella: It’s one of those things, I understand. A lot of people, I feel like would be mad. At the time, yeah, I was really mad at them but now, I get it and I've never been mad or held that against them, because I can’t. So, I just want to put that out there.
Karen: I love my parents….
J: Yeah. FYI. Okay, so would you say that this is like episode? I mean, I don’t know if that sounds right, but this is the first time that you go…. Let's say this: This is when, if you go back and say, when did this start for the first time, this is it, after Thanksgiving? That was like your first….?
Bella: Yeah, I think that's the first time we really knew. Well, I really knew this is something completely wrong, but I remember like we said, going back, I've had these episodes before, but they were mainly at night when I couldn't sleep.
Karen: I would say there would be little hiccups along the way, if you will but where it really came to our head, was after Thanksgiving because then it became a daily occurrence. It wasn't like it was once every so often.
Bella: It happened every single day.
Karen: Every single day and I remember us thinking, “Okay, Christmas break is three weeks away, let's just get to Christmas”. I don't know why I was thinking that was going to make it better or something, but let's just get to Christmas and start trying to just come to terms with this and really starting to work through it. And that span of that month between Thanksgiving and Christmas was a nightmare, it was truly a nightmare. And that was before we even really said, “Okay, we need we need to see a therapist”. Go ahead Bella.
J: Well, what grade was this in?
Karen and Bella: 6th grade.
J: 6th grade, okay. And you’re a junior now?
J: I mean, really, not that long ago.
Karen: Not at all, not at all. No, 5 years, 4, 5 years ago.
J: That's crazy. Very good. Okay, so, you go to school and you're fighting to get her to school every day, Karen?
Karen: Every single day.
J: Every day… I'm so interested in the whole school thing. Back in my home school and so we just don't deal with that, you know. I went to public school, Becca went to a private school, a Christian school, but I'm really interested in this. So, your mom drops you off at school or whatever, you know the bus or whatever. You end up at Chartiers-Houston?
J: I love that school. I love that school because… and I could totally be wrong; this is a little side note, but they did some things to memorialize Connor and I thought that was really cool. You know what I mean? It's a small school like you said and this wonderful kid that passed away and I feel like that school handled it right. So, I got a lot of respect for that school.
Karen: No, honestly, that school, Chartiers-Houston, came along side Bella. They were honestly part of Bella's support system during the 6th grade year and then again when she relapsed, but they were instrumental in getting her back on track. I can't say enough good things about them and how they handled the whole process.
J: Well, let's just hear about it. I mean, so what was it like? Your mom says, go to school. You're like, oh my God, you know. I'm feeling crazy. What was school like? Man this is so awesome that we have somebody on the C50 team that's 17, that can reach young folks that are in school that might be feeling this way. I mean, this is really cool. So, what was school like when mom drops you off and says, go to school and later we find out that's because you have a panic disorder?
Bella: Yeah. So, I would have to ride the bus at the time. So, getting on the bus was a huge struggle, I would cry on the bus all the way there and it was just one of those things where I was like “Mhm”. My bus driver was like, “alright”, because I've had the same bus driver since I was in kindergarten so it's a very common thing, me crying on the bus to go to school. So, I think she was honestly used to it.
And then, once I was at school, at the beginning it was just getting there. Once I was there, I was like “Alright, I'm good”. My teachers were good, they didn't ask me questions, and it was perfectly fine. We just kind of went about our day, until…
Karen: Well, Christmas break; after Christmas, she never went back. We couldn't get her to go back. So, we made it to Christmas and then we couldn't get her to go back to school.
J: Let me ask you this: When Christmas break rolls around, let's say that you're at Thanksgiving and mom says push through, push through, push through, your crying, going to school, blah-blah. The first day of Christmas break, do you feel great?
J: So, this was going on…
Karen: Well, it's sort of spilt over to other areas of her life and that's when Ray and I really realized, okay, we need to do something about this. It got to the point where Bella didn't want to leave the house, she wouldn't go to her grandparents, she wouldn’t got to McDonald's, she wouldn't go anywhere. So, that's when Ray and I said, okay, we need to get her hooked up and start seeing a therapist. And so, I think the first time she saw her therapist was either during Christmas break or maybe the first week that she should have been going back to school but we were unable to get her there.
Bella: And one thing I do remember vividly about Christmas break, is my birthdays two days after Christmas, so Christmas was supposed to be a really fun time and you're supposed to be celebrating the whole weekend; I wasn’t. And I remember I was supposed to have a birthday party, but we had to cancel it because I was like, no one can come over. I didn’t want people coming over, I locked myself in my bedroom. My mom had to call everyone, and say, like you know, “Sorry, the party is canceled”. I was sick.
Karen: Right and at that time, without us knowing what was going on and not really being aware of mental illness and honestly, I'm just going to be real. Kind of being… not embarrassed, but almost like not wanting to say, “Okay, there's something going on with my daughter mentally”. And Bella, honestly didn't want anyone to know anything at that time either, because I think she was afraid of what people would think. We lied, I mean we truly just lied to people, saying you know, Bella was sick or we were supposed to go to a friend's house for New Year's Eve and a friend that we always went to and just straight up lied. You know, Bella is not feeling well, can't get there.
So, it can be hard at beginning for those that are diagnosed and for the parents. If you're not familiar or know somebody else that struggles with a mental illness, it can be difficult, number one, to come to terms with it, to be okay with it and to be honest with it. Honest to yourself and honest to others, because I think we can get so caught up sometimes in being afraid of what other people are going to think of us that we either end up hiding or lying. And let's be honest Bella, I'm sure you can attest that that makes it even worse to heal if you're not willing to share and talk.
Bella: Yeah, I think the beginning of my healing process was when I started telling people because I felt when I was hiding things from like my friends, I felt worse when they would ask questions. I would feel like they were judging me but when I came to terms with the fact that, no they weren't judging me, they cared. It helped me heal a lot.
J: This is what C50 really wants to be, because hearing stories of redemption and hearing stories like that in just honesty, is what we want people to understand. We want to be a place that says, okay, it was terrible, we were lying about stuff and we didn't feel close to Jesus, but in the end we learned that people did care or we learned how to be honest. And then medically…and we're not experts here, we're not doctors, we didn't go to school for this, but we have experience where we say medically this got better and this changed and ultimately it led to a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. So, I just want to interject that and say, that's what C50 wants to be, is a place where we can be honest and say we were lying to people; I mean, we didn’t know how to do this.
I haven't read that many books that talk about mental illness, in mental health, but today it's mental illness. You know, we're talking about Bella’s story; I haven't read too many stories where people talk about that kind of stuff. They talk about their hurt and their pain, but parents don't talk about “oh, yeah, we were scared, we were [inaudible], and we don't know what to do. That's one on one mental health, how to address the fact that you are diagnosed or that you have something and I don't hear a lot about that. It's probably because it’s difficult.
Karen: Well, I think it's definitely difficult and honestly say, from Ray and I’s perspective, we didn't necessarily want to be… we didn't feel it was necessarily our place at first to share Bella story, it's Bella’s story. So, we needed Bella to be okay with where she was right now and who she was right now. And we needed Bella to be honest with herself and honest with others, so she would be okay with us doing the same. Does that make sense?
Even though Bella was 11 or 12, we felt like she kind of needed to… we obviously needed to help her and come alongside of her, but she needed to take the lead in being honest with herself and others as to what was going on. But I know, just jumping ahead slightly. We got Bella set up with her therapist and she was fantastic. This therapist was awesome for Bella at this point in her life. But right out the gate, she wanted Bella to go on medication, because her panic attacks were so often and so frequent, she didn't feel that Bella could use the coping mechanisms that she was teaching her because she was having way too many panic attacks. So, she was recommending that Bella get on medication to kind of help with the panic attacks so then she could start utilizing what the therapist was teaching her how to handle them. But again, going back to, Ray and I, the struggle we had. I mean, we tried to live a holistic life, so putting our daughter on medication that we knew she would be on every single day for who knows how long. We struggled with that. Bella, do you remember? I mean, we had such a hard time, we just so desperately wanted her just to kind of work through it on her own, but she couldn’t.
J: I think we we've talked about this and we just want to be clear that at C50, we believe that you may need medication and so we're not against medication. But medication, sometimes you need it on a long term basis. I take bipolar medication and I've been told I'm not really ever going to be off of it, but in other circumstances, medication is used to get people to a place of stability, where then they can learn coping mechanisms like you're saying and then get off the medication. So, it's not like a forever thing. So, you got on medication, Bella?
Bella: Yeah. I was on medication and my life basically went on hold. I was stuck either in my house or my grandma's house. I wasn't going anywhere. Basically, I was on medication, I wasn't doing anything. Just to kind of give my brain a break, pretty much.
Karen: It giving her time for that medicine to kick in and as you know J, or maybe parents out there listening, where they are contemplating if this is something they need to consider for their child. It's a process, you're not okay the very next day and I think that was something like you think, “Okay, I'm on medication now, life is good”. No, you have to figure out the right dosage and you have to build that up in your system and sometimes you have to figure out what medication may work for you. So, even though Bella is sitting here saying “Yeah, I was on medication”. She was still struggling as we were working through that process and getting the medication to the point where she needed to be.
J: So Bella, this goes on for a while and you get on medication, tell us a little bit about what happened and you moved out of this. Thing started to get better and take us through what happened after and then maybe take us into the next period of your life where this shows up again.
Bella: So, I was like you said, put a medication and then it took a few months for me to really get back on my feet, for me to not have a panic attack every single day and then I eventually finish out that school year, going to school all day; which was a huge victory. Then I was still on my medication for two years and then we thought because I'm doing good, haven’t had a panic attack in years, don't need this. So, I started slowly getting off…
J: With the help of a doctor?
Bella: Yeah. I was meeting with a therapist.
Karen: We were meeting with therapist, probably still weekly at this point, even though she was doing great, but she was also seeing a psychiatrist who was managing her medication.
J: Right. And so, someone like me, people who are bipolar that take medication just for like life, they say that a lot of times people with bipolar try to get off their medication and bad idea, right?
Karen: Horrible idea. You should not do that yourself.
J: Especially yourself, right? And so if you go to your therapist and say “Hi, I’m bipolar and I want to get off my medication”. They’re going to go “You're crazy”. If they told me, I'd be like “Okay, yeah”.
Karen: I've heard that before.
J: But they're going to say probably like “Okay, let's think about that” and maybe not really do that. So, you wanted to get off of it and you thought everything was cool and you worked with a therapist or a psychiatrist and got off the medication?
Bella: Yeah and honestly, that was the goal. She was excited that I was getting off my medication and that I didn't need anymore. And I went two years and yeah, I did have some little blips but it wasn't like before. I could move past it, I could still use the coping skills and then I was fine, it was like another day. And then sophomore year came and that's when it started coming back very frequently.
J: And sophomore year is two years ago?
Bella: Last year.
J: Oh, golly, sophomore.
Karen: You keep thinking she’s a senior.
J: Yeah, I know. So, last year….
Karen: Probably a year ago this time.
J: I know a little bit about the story and I love what you said here. You guys are in New York…. I just love this part of the story. So, just tell us very quickly what happened.
Karen: Okay, so, here I am thinking, Bella turned 16. Her birthday is in December, so for her 16th birthday, I take me, myself, by myself take Bella and two of her friends to New York City. So again, all is well. We're literally in New York City in Rockefeller Center and Bella has a full out panic attack in the middle of York City and just takes off.
J: [laughing]. Where did she go?
Bella: Times Square.
J: By yourself?
Karen: Well, we're like running after her. And I remember thinking and looking at her friends and saying, “Go! Run, you got to keep up with her”. Because again, just knowing this, we became complacent with Bella’s therapy and Bella's treatment, because we were thinking, life is good, all is well and at this point it had been like a year or two since a real panic attack. I forgot how to handle it, I went back to the same old, like “oh my gosh, what do I do?” And I did not handle it properly, which made her panic attack even worse and she was just like, “I’m out”.
Bella: I need to escape.
Karen: Right, she needed to escape and took off.
J: This is just off topic.
Karen: Now, here I am in New York City with three young girls…
J: And where were you headed?
Bella: I don't know. Just away from all that.
J: My Gosh.
Karen: Yeah. So, that's when it all began again.
J: What's so funny about you Bella, is I just got to tell people; if you don't know Bella, you're like just the sweetest girl….
Karen: Not in the middle of a panic attack, let me tell you.
J: Right. And then you just imagine, she's like “whaaa”.
Karen: If you have ever or anybody out there has ever known somebody to go through a panic attack, they truly become a different person.
J: Well, you know, I want to talk about that, let's do it really quickly. Again, I do look at you Bella and I'm like, she is like the sweetest, there’s nothing wrong with her.
Karen: Different person.
J: Different person. So, tell us, you're in the zone, you're in the panic and so maybe you don't realize it's, so Karen you're going to have to speak out, but you've told me, you said “I say horrible things, I’m mean and what not”. Just quickly… I mean, we've got to move on, so just quickly tell me what that's like.
Bella: It's honestly an out of body experience. I completely become not myself. And I'm just angry at the whole situation, I'm anxious, I'm panicking, I'm in this box like state and there’s so many emotions going through my head, especially the time in New York because I was like, I ruined the trip, I ruined the trip. It was just like these constant thoughts, that it's all my fault, it's all my fault and I'm angry at the situation but I take it out on so many other people. And I can tell you so many people that have told me, they get scared when they see me go into a panic attack because it's scary for me but it's also extremely scary for people to see.
J: And Karen, you're on the other end of this, which if Becca was here, she would vouch for you know, Bella and I have share that and you and Becca would share the other side of it. What do you do, someone's like freaking out on you, someone that you love and they love you, but they're in this….?
Karen: This zone, as these crazy, negative thoughts going through their head.
J: Right. How do you just go, “I love you”?
Karen: Right. So, a lot of times people that are experiencing a panic attack, they’re hyper ventilating. They have a hard time breathing. So not only do they have all those negative thoughts going through their head, panic attack truly affects you physically. So, for me, you know, you almost have to read the panic attack and what type of panic attack it is, but it could either be me saying “Okay, let's breathe; we're going to try to breathe through this”, but then a lot of times she's so worked up, you can't even get to that point. So, then you have to really try to speak truth into her and all the negative thoughts that she's now communicating, because let's be honest, I say this all the time but when you have these negative thoughts and you speak those negative thoughts, you bring life to them. So, we always try to speak truth over that. “I ruined the trip”. No, you didn't, everything's going to be okay, we're going to get through this panic attack and we're going to move forward. So, speaking truth and speaking honesty to that person so they can actually start hearing it and the key for somebody experiencing a panic attack and Bella, please jump in. Is you need to start speaking the truth over yourself to help you get through that process.
Bella: Yeah. When I struggled in 10th grade…. We’re just jumping forward a little bit. I had gotten a new therapist, so with my new therapist, which we’ll probably get into more, we talked about all the lies that I would say to myself during those moments and we wrote our battling truths. And I have them on my phone still and it is just something that when I was having a panic attack, I would just read those over and over and over again.
Karen: So, the key to it I think is not only reading them, but speaking them. When you truly speak properly and speak truth and speak honestly, again, words become life when you speak them. So, her speaking truth over herself, I think helps her get through it. Instead of just saying it in her head, I would makers speak it.
J: So, your counselor or your therapist that you got, your second therapist in 10th grade, is a Christian counselor?
J: Okay. So, you're not just talking about truth that everything is going to be okay, my mom loves me. Are you talking about spiritual truth?
Bella: Yeah. Within there, there would be Bible verses that spoke truth over the situation. There would be “Jesus loves you, Jesus has your back”. One of the biggest things, is you're not alone, because in that moment you feel so alone, like you're the only one that’s going through this. So, one of the biggest truths that I would constantly tell myself, is you're not alone. Mainly, my panic attacks will happen in the car. So, like in that very confined space even with my mom next to me or my brother in the back, I felt very, very alone.
J: Bella, take us from New York City and this kind of experience that you had there. Take us to the new therapist that we were just talking about and really how things start to move towards a spiritual... I don't want to say healing, but maybe healing and…
J: Oh…. Wow! Aligning, that’s good. Yeah, tell us a little bit about that.
Bella: So, New York was like my first full blown panic attack in years and then, after that it was fine. I was going to school, it was fine and then, once again, we went away to Disney world…
Karen: You had a little blurred; remember March for Life?
Bella: Oh, yeah.
Karen: It seemed to happen when we were out of the state March.
Bella: Yeah, March for Life….
J: This look like a hundred thousand people.
Bella: Yeah, March for Life, I had another one. Disney World, I had multiple in different parks. So, when I got back, for a while my mom was saying, “Bella, do you want to change therapist, do you want to change therapist? And I was like, no. I don't like change, it's very comfortable with my therapist, she knew me, and she knew my story, why would I have to change? What was the big deal?
Karen: And honestly, she was wonderful and she was instrumental and help you tremendously in the healing when you were in 6th grade.
Bella: Yes, she was absolutely incredible, but she was not a Christian therapist and I'm not sure what her beliefs were, but it wasn't toward Jesus. So, as I was getting older and more mature in my faith, I needed that to be incorporated in my therapy. So, through our church, we found my therapist that I have now, which is a Christian therapist and she has helped me so much with my mental illness and with coping with that, but also strengthening my relationship with Jesus at the same time, which kind of, like I said, aligns the two. Because you can't do this without bringing Jesus into it and fully being okay with what's happening without Jesus.
J: You heard it from Bella. I mean, that's beautiful.
Karen: I think a lot of people can struggle… and Bella, you can talk about this, but I think a lot of people that maybe are struggling with either a mental illness or mental health, it's the same line. Why would God allow this to happen to me? Why is this happening to me? And people struggle with that, they really struggle with, when someone becomes diagnosed, they always get mad at God. Maybe they blame him or they're angry with him. But how did you, Bella, spin that around to not be angry but because of your relationship with Him, realized how much He could help you? How did you do that?
Bella: Throughout my experiences I saw so many people that struggled with either, be it mental illness or mental health or just anxiety in general. I saw that a lot and I saw that through my story, I could help people, which I think it really helped my relationship with Christ because then I realized, alright, quit, I just stop asking “Why would you do this to me?” But, “How can I use this through you to help other people?” asking a different question to him, rather than blaming him for something. It was just a change of mindset.
Karen: Right. We always have this line that we like to say, is “Finding purpose in your pain”, because we all go through struggles and we all have different points in our life that low points or painful moments but you can find purpose through that and you can find healing through that. And through that you can, by sharing like Bella has and Bella continues to do, she has truly helped other people. And I think she's found her purpose, if you will, by sharing and talking about her story. I think when that became evident to Bella, is the Panama trip. Correct Bella?
Bella: Yeah. On that trip, I found out a lot of people that genuinely struggled. People that I've known for years, that I didn't…
Karen: You would never have any clue.
Bella: No… that they struggled and I was struggling a lot. That was like in the midst of everything and while I was struggling, I was able to help people struggle too because they saw that they weren’t alone, which was something that I never thought I'd be able to do.
J: After the second, or the relapse, I should say, in 10th grade, you found this Christian counsellor and found truth in these things that we're talking about, it’s just awesome and finding purpose in your pain, is it is awesome. So, tell us a little bit about where you're at now? That’s just last year. Where are you at right now with your panic disorder and then lead us into where you're at spiritually? Just so that you can encourage people that are 17 years old or you know 97 years old. Everyone out there that say, “Hey look, I struggle and this is where I’m at with Jesus?”
Bella: Right now, I'm still on my medication, it's still something that I have to battle through. Sometimes on a daily basis, sometimes I'll go a day without even thinking about my anxiety and it's a good day, but it's still a struggle. I haven't had a panic attack in a long time, which has been awesome, but it's still something that I do get anxious still, I do feel them coming on, but it's something I can cope with and something that I can control and I'm able to get to school, able to stay at school which has been incredible and I never realize how lucky I am to be able to go to school sometimes. Now, I'm very thankful that I can get to school.
My relationship with Jesus it's still growing, it's still in progression. There are something that I need to work on, but like I always say to see people, he is my best friend and He's the one person throughout all this that I can count on and that's why I want to do this. So, I can show people that are struggling that He… [Inaudible] onus is very much something that you feel like you can only do on your own, it's your own problem because it's in your head, like everything that's happening is your own problem. But that's not true at all, but He's your best friend and He's going to battle this with you.
Thanks for listening today. Again, we have tried hard to share truth authentically and we hope that this has been a helpful time in your life. To reach us, donate, share your story and give us feedback on how we can do a better job reaching people that are struggling. Please go to www.C50hope.com.
Becca: We leave you with this. Now, the Lord is the spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. II Corinthians 3:17. And remember as Jack Miller said, “You’re far more loved than you ever dare imagine.