2020: More Courage, Self-Control and Joy-May Edition

Have you ever stopped and just listened to what God is saying to you? That is what I’ve been doing for the month of May.

When it comes to courage, I had to show courage when I had to go back to my orthodontist to find out about treatment for my shifted teeth. I found out that I had to start wearing my retainers full time to try to shift my teeth back to their original position. I will find out, in a few weeks, if I need surgery or not. Ever since that visit to my orthodontist I have been in a body dysmorphic disorder flare.  I find myself looking in the mirror judging my appearance wondering if my teeth have moved even just the slightest amount. That is when I hear God refer me back to Psalm 139:11, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it.” God also has taught me that even though others may judge my appearance, it says in (1 Samuel 16:7),   … “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person’s thoughts and intention.”  God has shown me that I can finally let go of my body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). I have now found peace with my disorder. I will let you know more about my Orthodontic treatment when I find out more information.

When it comes to self-control, I had to learn to wait for things to happen in my life. For example, I have set a few Financial goals, such as my personal savings. I must slowly put money away to reach them. I will make it though. God has also taught me to continue to have a positive mindset. Right now, I am slowly getting things back together since my hard drive crashed last November. I am working on my book. My goal is to have it ready to present to the Vocational Rehabilitation board in August. It says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Joy, in the light of the virus I have started to slow down and learned to enjoy what life has to offer. This month, my grandpa celebrated his 84th birthday. We went out to dinner to one of his favorite restaurants. We both had a fish basket. It was tasty. During my Bible study this month God showed me that I can have emotional peace and I do not have to dwell on the tough stuff. He has showed me that even though I am considered to be labeled as living in “Poverty” I can enjoy being his child and that I can enjoy the little things such as enjoying a nice scent of lavender bubble bath. I am starting to see God’s love around me. All I have to do is stop, listen and look around to find it.

How was May for you? Tell me in the comments below.

How my eating disorder fed off my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (Part 4)

“Amanda, time to get up and walk Noodles,” my Grandpa said as he awakened me one Saturday morning. I grumbled as I got out of bed and grabbed Noodles’s leash; I slipped into a pair of shorts and  threw  on a T-shirt.  Then, Noodles and I went for a walk.  The truth of the matter was  that both Noodles  and I were overweight. I hated taking Noodles for a walk in the hot Florida sun because my eyes suffered from photophobia due to my Nystagmus.

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Photo of Noodles and I lying in the grass.                Photo credit goes to Mrs. Karen

Despite this problem, I knew that Noodles and I needed to walk so our health wouldn’t worsen. Besides exercising, I also knew that our poor eating habits had to change. For example, not only did we needed to cut back on giving Noodles so many treats, but I also needed to stop eating so many cheeseburgers and French fries at the college cafeteria.  One of the reasons why I was overeating was due to the stress of college. As a result of my poor dietary habits, I could barely fit into my clothes, and my energy level decreased.

One weekend, while visiting my grandparents, I said to Grandpa, “I am struggling with picking out healthy food at the cafeteria. All I want to eat are cheeseburgers, fries and soda.”  My Grandpa, who had eaten lunch with me at the cafeteria before, said, “I remember they offer a salad bar there. Try to eat a salad with your lunch and dinner. Limit the number of times you get a cheeseburger meal and try to get out to go for a walk between classes.”

When I returned to college the following Monday, my friend suggested that we walk to church  to get some exercise. On our way there, to attend Bible study, she handed me an orange and said, “Here, I know you have been trying to change your diet. I brought you an orange to try.”  I tasted it, and even though I used to like oranges, this one did not appeal to me, just like most other healthy food.  After I threw the orange in the trash, my friend said, “Don’t worry we’ll find some kind of fruit you like.”

Eventually, I forced myself to try more fruit. But other than bananas, no other fruit appealed to me.

Over the next year, Noodles and I made a lot of progress with our diets and exercise routines and lost the weight we needed.

2020: More Courage, Self-Control and Joy-April Edition

April has come and gone in waves. Some days go by faster than others. I must admit that I forgot to write a “2020: More courage, Self-Control and Joy-March Edition” because I lost track of time.

Like the rest of the world, I am staying at home due to the Pandemic. I have found out a lot about myself during this difficult time.

First, I have decided to have more courage. One of the things that this pandemic has taught me is that I deserve health care. I have not seen a doctor since 2016. Even though I have a fear of getting medical care, I have decided that once this Pandemic ends, and the doctor offices open up I have to make an appointment to have a general health assessment which includes blood work. When it comes to courage I really have to learn that God wants me to have peace in my life, to understand that he wants me to let go of my past, and my fears and to know that he has a wonderful life planned for me.

Self-control has been challenging because I have been struggling with setting my financial goals. There are some things I need to buy, but there are also a few things I want to buy. For example, I broke my Phone’s screen last November after my hard drive broke, and I need to replace my phone’s screen. I have been going back and forth with the thought of buying myself a prepaid cell phone plan or staying on my grandfather’s family plan and just fixing my phone. Getting my phone fixed will not be cheap. There are somethings I would like to buy. I would like to buy an Apple watch. However, achieving these “want” goals take time. The things I really need, including my business goals, are most important. I just have to show self-control and save for the most important things first.

One of the things that this pandemic has taught me is to have more joy for what I have. Recently, God has been telling me “to clean out my closet and my room.” Not only is he talking about my physical space, but spiritually as well. I have been using An App called Bible. Within this app you can study different plans. Boy, God sure has been using this App to get my attention! Lately, I have been struggling with my Body Dysmorphia Disorder and God used  two different plans  one called “How God See’s you” And “Get Out Of Your Head” to get my attention that the way I look is the way I am meant to be. God wants me to focus on him and on reaching my goals that he has set for me instead of having anxiety take over me. God has also used another plan called “How To Forgive Someone Who Hurt you Deeply.” For years I thought that my feelings had to a line so that way I could forgive my father for not wanting to be a part of my life. The plan went on to explain that forgiveness and feelings do not have to line up to forgive someone. It is okay to feel hurt, but it is better to let go of the hurt and to forgive the person who has hurt you. Dad, if you ever get a chance to read this know that I deeply want a relationship with you. You are always welcome to reach out to me at any time.  I am working on processing and forgiving you. I am no longer angry at you. You are forgiven. One of my friends put it to me this way, “As long as we have breath there is hope for a relationship.” That is a great thing. Letting go of my hurt has helped me find joy in my life. As I dive into these plans, I am working on letting go of the negative things in my life. That has brought me peace.

How was April for you? What goals did you achieve this month? Tell me in the comments below.

 

 

 

How my eating disorder fed off my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (part 1).

As I reluctantly looked in the mirror in my college bathroom,  I would glance at the toilet and back to the mirror, then back to the toilet, and then back to the mirror, as I pulled my long  blonde hair back into a ponytail.  Hurry up! Stick your fingers in your mouth! You’re fat! You binged again… If you would just throw up and lose a pound or two you would be prettier, and you would feel better! These were the thoughts that often went through my mind when I faced the mirror. I was depressed, lonely, and was downright unhappy. The truth was I was binge eating my feelings.

When I ate in the cafeteria, I mainly only ate cheeseburgers and French fries, then would go back for plate after plate of French fries – – and would wash it all down with Dr. Pepper!  Beyond that, I also stored snacks in my dorm room, such as chocolate pudding, pop tarts, ice cream, popcorn and cans of Ravioli. Consequently, the items from this menu only added more pounds and not only worsened my BDD, but also increased my desire to sometimes purge.

At that time, I remember trying on my favorite pair of jeans and could barely zip them up.  I thought to myself either the washer or the dryer at my school has made my jeans shrink, or I have gained weight. Either way, I need new clothes. When I visited my grandparents the following weekend, my grandpa commented that I had put on a few pounds. That’s when I realized that the college’s washer or dryer were not to blame.

Later that day, my grandma offered to take me to Walmart to buy me some new jeans. Because I was a poor college student, I was thankful for this gift.

When we arrived at Walmart, and were looking at some jeans, a female sales associate approached us and asked if she could help.

My grandma then said to the sales associate, “When she was at Pensacola State College she didn’t gain weight, and now that she is at The University of West Florida she has put on weight and we don’t know what size to get her.”  As I stood there listening to those words, I felt ashamed of my body. Looking back at this memory I realized that comments from my grandmother, friends and other family members attributed my eating disorder and BDD. As I stood there feeling hot from embarrassment, the female associate turned to a male co-worker who was standing nearby stocking shelves, “Just ignore this.”  Then she eyed me up and turned to my grandma and said, “She does have a nice figure despite her gaining the freshmen 15. I would try the next size up from her current jeans.” I fought back tears as my BDD turned the freshmen 15 into the freshmen 100 in my mind.

After I tried on a few pairs, and as I stood l there not wanting to look at myself in the mirror because of my BDD, I knew in my heart that if I didn’t get a hold of this problem it would continue to spiral out of control.

Disclaimer: If you are having problems with either your physical or mental health please seek professional medical care.

The Pandemic and My Hurt Tooth

This Pandemic has been all over the news and I have been having some anxiety. One of the ways that I deal with anxiety is I clinch and grind my teeth at night.  On the 22 of March, I bit into my night guard hard. It hurt and I had a concern that I had broken my tooth.  I really didn’t want to increase my chances of catching the virus by visiting the dentist. I waited a few days to see if the pain would subside. It didn’t. I made the brave decision to go to the dentist.

On the 25, when I got to the office, there were only a few cars in the parking lot. My grandpa decided to wait in the car until I was ready to check out. When I approached the door there was a large sign that read: Knock to be let in. This was due to the pandemic.

Once I checked in at the front desk, I was given paperwork to fill out. I looked around at the small lobby. It was empty.  Because of my visual impairment I had to ask for assistance to help me fill out the paperwork.

As I was filling out the paperwork I was so scared; I was shaking because not only was I fearful of catching the  Corona virus, but I was also fearful of having to get extensive dental work that would be accompanied by a large bill. The dental hygienist was kind to me, as she explained what would happen during the procedure.

When the dentist came in, he appeared to be already dressed in his Covid-19 attire, which included a thick gown, gloves and a mask.

He seemed rushed to get on with the exam. He didn’t really introduce himself. He just quickly asked me to open my mouth, and then he looked with a mirror and a poky tool. He told me that my tooth wasn’t broken; however, I needed to see my orthodontist because my teeth shifted. To keep your teeth from further damage, I also needed a new night guard and a new retainer.

Since I also suffer from body image disorder, my heart sank because I felt ugly due to the change in my teeth.

That same day I tried to make an appointment to see my orthodontist. However, due to the pandemic, he would not be available for consultation until May. But I was able to see a technician at his office, who gave me a new retainer.  The technician didn’t really have any advice to give me to help with my clenching and grinding other than to get a new night guard from Walmart. This advice added to my anxiety because I wasn’t sure if it would work, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my orthodontist until May.

When I went to Walmart to buy another night guard, I noticed how the people moved quickly and seemed standoffish.  Interestingly enough, the shelfs in Walmart were filled of supplies even though the shelf’s in other stories in my area were empty due panic buying because of the pandemic.  I grabbed my guard, checkout and went home.

A few days later, I have learned that by not watching as much news on the pandemic the anxiety I have felt has gotten better.  I hope that the pain will go away even further were I will not have to see my orthodontist in May.  How are you coping with anxiety during this time?

The Time I Overcame

This is a new story series! The Time I overcame…. The first story comes from Ailsa.  I hope everyone likes this new series. Take it away, Ailsa.

Hi everyone, I am Ailsa, and I am the proud owner of Brains on Wheels. Brains on Wheels is my personal blog, where I write about my experiences surrounding my disabilities. I would like to thank Amanda for letting me write for her blog…

Today I would like to talk about how proud I am to have achieved my English GCSE at a grade 3.

In England, we have an education system where people who are 14 – 16 take exams called GCSEs, which stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. Genually, pupils around 16 years of age take their GCSEs. As far as I am aware, and in my experience, most GCSEs consist of coursework and exams. Some have more than one piece of coursework, some have more than one exam. It all depends on the subject

In June 2013, I took my GCSEs. I took all of the core (required) subjects; English, Mathematics, ICT (I got the highest grade in ICT), and combined Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). I chose to take one other subject: Health and Social Care. I sat each exam, I have double the amount of time to complete each paper. Everything went well in my exams, I am proud of my grades.

For the English exam, there were three components to make up the final grade; Controlled Assessments, also known as coursework, Speaking and Listening, and one written paper. I did all three parts.

In all my exams, I am aloud up to 100% extra time because it takes me longer to read and get my thoughts written down. I am also entitled to a reader, a scribe (writer) and rest breaks. It took me about five hours to complete my English exams! I made it! From analysing and comparing texts, to writing a short narrative, I did the lot. Five hours later, I was absolutely exhausted!

Then came Results Day. I went all the way back to my senior school, which was Portchester Community School to collect my GCSE results. When I arrived, first of all I had a quick natter with my friends, and met up with the LSA I had helping over the five years I was at the school. I took my results envelop and opened it… All of my results were as expected, apart from one subject: English.

Back then GCSE grades went from A* (which was the highest) to the lowest grade of G. U was ungraded.

I was predicted to get a D in English at school. When I looked at my English grade, the paper said that I got a G. On the paper, it had the grade broken down into three sections: Coursework, the Speaking and Listening, and the exam. I had marks for the coursework and the Speaking and Listening exam, but they had my result for the paper marked as 0!

I was so upset with this! English has always been one of my strongest subjects and to go through this was horrible. After a lot of conversations between my mum, school, the exam board and I, we found out that the exam board had lost the paper with my answers written on. We were all incredibly angry about this. The rules say that if the exam boards lose someone’s paper, they have to give the candidate their predicted grade. The exam board announced that they had “found” my paper and gave me an F. To this day, all of us think that they never found my paper, and they didn’t want to give me my predicted grade, so they just picked any old grade to give me.

Anyway, when I was about to start, the staff at my college (UK) said that if I didn’t get a grade C or above, they would help me to get a higher grade. I can’t remember when, but when I asked about re-sitting my English GCSE, they refused to give me the opportunity on the grounds that I wasn’t working at the appropriate level. They also said that I “wouldn’t be able to cope” in a mainstream class, even though I went through mainstream schools. This made me extremely angry, and even more determined to prove them wrong.

We made a deal that if I passed Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills English, I could then re-sit my GCSE. Functional Skills English has never been practical for me because the writing part has to either be hand-written or typed on a computer. Even though I am able to use a computer with my feet, when I get stressed or emotional, my mussels refuse to function effectively. As a result, I couldn’t type very well or quickly and before I knew it, my time was up. Straight away I knew that I didn’t write enough to pass. I took this exam twice, and the second time around, I passed!

They finally allowed me to join a GCSE English class after passing Level 1. I did well in the classes, but the college still would not let me take the GCSE. I took the class for two or three years before I was allowed to take the exam. I watched lots of other students; my peers gearing up for their exams, knowing that I wasn’t going to be taking the exam with them.

By the time I was put in to do the GCSE English exam, in 2018, the system had changed completely. The grades changed from A* to G, to 1 to 9. I had to learn a new set of skills for this exam, which wasn’t that bad, but it was still annoying. I was just lucky that I had a fantastic teacher!

The good thing about the exam changing is that it was a shorter exam. I still got double the time take the written exam, but because it was shorter, it was easier. I still did the Speaking and Listening exam with the same amount of time as the rest of the people doing this exam though.

When I came out of my last exam, I was so excited and proud of myself for doing it that I screamed at the top of my lungs. One of the things that I said was “in your face!”, I know that was a bit childish, but I don’t really care because I waited so long to do it. I just want to thank the people who believed in me and gave me the chance to do this. It really was an amazing feeling!

It just goes to show that you should believe in yourself and you should never take ‘no’ for an answer. If you want something that much, you should fight for it!

Thank you for reading this blog post, I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my achievement! Feel free to visit my blog, subscribe and follow me on Social Media…

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How I’m coping with the COVID-19 virus

I have seen and heard many reports about the COVID-19 virus that is spreading over the world. I feel sorry for what has been happening and I have been praying for a cure for some time.

So far things are normal for me. I am continuing to write and think of new ideas as I stay at home to help do my part in fighting the virus.

I feel that keeping busy has helped me with the anxiety I have been feeling about the pandemic. I been keeping myself occupied by reading An Irish Country Family by Patrick Taylor. In addition to that, I have been keeping up with my blog posts, edited my book, and producing my YouTube videos.

In my spare time, I have been watching a variety of shows on Netflix. I have been watching a lot of cartoons from Looney Tunes to Garfield.

I have been doing my regular chores, such as laundry, dishes, and yardwork.

Whenever I get anxious about the virus, I find that talking with friends on social media helps to alleviate it. My anxiety is more heighten at nighttime for some reason. To help with this, I play rainstorm sounds on my Alexa device, and I run my essential oil diffuser.  I love the scent of lavender; it helps me get a good night’s sleep.

If we all pull together and do our parts, hopefully we will be successful in this fight against this virus.

What have you been doing to keep yourselves busy while we are told to stay home?