Some days are just hard. 
I’m numb but everything hurts. I’m sick of hurting; sick of crying myself to sleep; sick of faking a smile; and sick of feeling worse. 
It hurts. It hurts a lot and there is so much more that I keep inside so it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Then sometimes I get physically sick because I feel so “not good enough,” because I “can’t do anything right,” and I’m too tired to go on.
The thing is, alone, I’m not enough. Alone, I can’t fight this, And that’s OK because, praise the Lord, we are NOT alone and with Him we are ALWAYS enough.
Someone, somewhere needs to hear this today. If that’s you, I just want to take a second to tell you how enough you are. 
You are genuine. You are wise and you are compassionate. Your struggles have shaped a kind and gentle heart. You are purposeful (trust me you really are). You are loving and you are courageous. You are intuitive (your gorgeous soul always knows best). You are capable (even when you don’t feel as if you are) and you are adaptable (or else you wouldn’t have made it this far). 
You are extraordinary and with God on your team, 
you are so enough it blows my mind.
God wants you to know that you don’t have to fight alone. 
Give in to the loving arms He’s reaching out to you. 
You have the Holy Spirit here to comfort you, teach you, and help you. 
Now go take some time to go love yourself and the wonderful God who created you.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. “(Psalm 139:13-14)

A Moment In My Mind

I was asking myself “what’s wrong with me?” Why do I always have such awful thoughts? Then, in that moment, my brain chatter went completely quiet, like somebody pushed the mute button. What is this….silence? Total silence. At first I was shocked to find myself in a quiet mind and then I was immediately captivated by this unusual happenstance.

It was a rare, short but beautiful, moment because the internal dialogue that anxiety creates is unique to anxiety sufferers and it never ends. We are always worrying about something, anything, and everything. This is why I wanted to create a brief window into my life, giving people an idea of what its like to live with anxiety.

Then, the next moment, it was gone. All the brain chatter came rushing back.

What if I get sick? What if I die? What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t get accepted? What if I fail? What if I hurt someone? What if I mess up? What will they think of me? What’s going to happen if I go? I’m hopeless. I spend too much time thinking about my thoughts. I could slice that persons face.

Suddenly, my brain shoots into overdrive. Whats wrong with me? Who thinks thoughts like that? Why do I have these thoughts? Maybe I’m a murderer. I should go to hell or maybe I should die. 

What if I die now that I’ve thought that? ok. ok. ok. We’ve got a problem! *Heart starts racing* I’ve got to get help! I need to text my mom. So, I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. I search for my moms number but all I can see is pixels, even though I can see clearly in my mind where my moms name is, my eyes just can’t focus on the task at hand. I’m still to worried that I’m going to die.

I could stab that person walking by.

WHAT?!?! Summer!! How could you ever think something so awful?! I must be the worst person on the planet! No one else would ever think something like that. 

The Dr. said lots of people have these thoughts occasionally…but that can’t be true. Nobody thinks like that. I must be a psycho-murderer at heart. 

I could punch that person.

WHAT?!?! NO!! 













Still there…





You have now survived just 10 seconds in my brain. For anxiety sufferers this continues for hours and hours on end.

Although my mind is a crazy place at times, I find comfort knowing I don’t need to battle alone. 

“Moses answered the people, “Stand firm and you will see the the deliverance the Lord will bring you today….The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14) 

I feel as though I fight anxiety every moment of my life but what a comfort to know that God’s got it all under control, I need only be still. The people were despairing but Moses encouraged them to watch the wonderful way the Lord would rescue them. Moses had a positive attitude! When it looked as if they were trapped, Moses called upon God to intervene. WE may not be chased by an army but we may still feel trapped by anxiety. Instead of giving in to despair when all these thoughts are rushing through our mind we need to only “stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will bring…The Lord will fight for you you need only be still.”  

No Mistake

Sometimes our walk with God is not so much a “walk” but rather a weak, tired, crawl; sometimes its a climb up mountains of trials. This year has been packed full of trial after trial. Every single day has been a struggle. Some days I see no point in existing. This is when God grabs a hold of my heart and gives me purpose, reminding me why I’m here. Then I continue trying to live for Him. I try but so often I get distracted by c o m p a r i s o n.  I start comparing my life to the lives my friends have: going to school, going out, making new friends, having fun, working. 

Twenty-year-olds should be either working or going to school…certainly not spending two years in a psychiatric hospital. How am I supposed to be setting an example for younger kids when I can’t even stay home alone and how am I supposed to shine a light for Jesus when my life is in shambles and I’m surrounded by darkness? I even question God: “How am I supposed to continue living for you when for three years I haven’t felt you moving?”

What do you do when your whole world continues to fall apart? You either hold on to your brokenness and let it consume you or you turn back to Jesus and let Him calm your storm.

I guess I forget that God can use us wherever we are because He placed us here. Somehow God is going to use me right here in Parkwood hospital, even when it feels like the only thing I’ve done all year a survived. The ALMIGHTY God did not make any mistakes when He planned our lives. We are the right person, in the right place, at the right time. God designed us and our lives perfectly for the race laid out for us. God has fully equipped us for this life and His mercy is far greater than any mistake we could ever make. The same God who holds the stars in place is holding my life in place. He can use a broken life if only we have faith. Faith in God includes faith in His timing. I may not be doing what other twenty-year-olds are doing but I will get there eventually.

Sometimes our walk with God is not so much a “walk” but rather a weak, tired, crawl, sometimes it’s a climb up mountains of trials…BUT it doesn’t matter if we’re walking, crawling, or climbing, God is right beside us faithfully leading us through.

It’s Okay

These days people seem to make a big deal of telling people to “hold on” or “be strong”…but you know what…? 

It’s okay to not always be strong. 

It’s okay to break down and it’s okay to cry. 

Some days are just hard and we need to accept them as they are. Some days all I can do is cry out to God to come save me from this mess of a mind I carry on my shoulders. Some days my heart is in such a shamble that I wonder how I managed to get dressed in the morning never mind survive the day…but you know what…? 

                                             That’s okay too. 

Some days are just hard and that’s okay. 

Having a bad day and breaking down doesn’t mean you’re going to have a bad day everyday. 

It simply means that you had a bad day. 

Crying on a hard day doesn’t make you weak, it simply makes you human. 

It’s okay to not always be okay and it’s okay to not always be strong. 

Fight when you can but relax when you need to. It’s okay to be scared and overwhelmed just don’t let it consume you. 

Let it be okay to not be okay and okay to not always be strong. When we are so weak we feel like quitting we must allow God to continue to carry us through no matter how badly you want to give up. Gods power is made perfect when we are not enough.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

  ~2 Corinthians 12:9New Living Translation (NLT)

Personal Update-January 2015

Over the past year and a half I have been battling severe depression (which leads to suicidal thinking)-along with psychosis (Which is mainly controlled with medication now) and severe OCD. In that time my depression has been in a downward spiral.

Even with each medication we tried I’ve just been feeling worse and worse. Medications were making me feel hopeless. I felt as if every few months my Dr would say, “Here’s another medication to try. It may work but probably not so welcome to your life for the next two months while we wait to see if this works,” (OK, maybe they didn’t quite say it like that…)

Then every few months I would report “No change” (in fact, I was feeling worse). I’ve been stuck in a hopeless downward spiral of depression. All I ever feel like doing is sleeping but the OCD makes me need to try and distract myself  from my thoughts. No matter how hard I’ve tried to make myself feel happy I’m just not. Happiness feels so distant; out of reach.

Because nothing is helping my depression we are trying electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they put me to sleep and then shock my brain into a controlled seizure. The weird thing about ECT is that no one knows exactly how/why it works. All they know is that it “resets” the chemicals in the brain. 

I started ECT on Wednesday (Jan. 21st) and I’ll have up to 20 treatments. There is a lot of hope that ECT will work for me. I’ve seen a few other people have really great results from ECT and I’m hoping to see the same for me. So far I’ve only had two treatments so it is too early to see a change but the treatments have gone really well-my body is responding well to the treatments.

After the ECT is finished we will still be going to Toronto to get assessed and get some treatment for the OCD.

In the Bible, Canaan was a land with giants. The Anakites may have been 7-9′ tall. Many of the walls around the city were up to 30′ tall! The Israelites fear was understandable but not justified because the All Powerful God had already promised them victory. Sometimes I find myself fearful of the war raging inside my heart. The battle of good & evil; joy & sadness. I focus on the negatives and doubt God will actually pull through and help me find victory. 

“Where can we go? Our brothers made us lose heart. They say the people are stronger and taller than we are with walls up to the sky. We even saw Anakites there.Then I said to you ‘Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you just as you saw him do in Egypt and you saw how The Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you travelled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.”  Deuteronomy 1:29-33

Although the road God wants us to take is sometimes scarier and harder, God has promised to lead the way and take care of us just as He has brought us this far in our journey.

Please pray that I will trust God when he says He will win the victory in my battle. Please pray that the ECT works and for as few side effects as possible.  

Held by Invisible Hands

Dear God,

I don’t understand why you’ve placed me on this journey. Don’t you see that it’s too hard for me?

Do you see me?

Do you care?

Where are you?

Why aren’t you helping me?

How long will you leave me here struggling just to breathe?

I’m drowning in pain; I weep all night long. My cheeks are stained with tears.

How long must I wrestle with these thoughts and live with this sorrow in my heart? I’ve built up all these tall walls around me to keep everyone at a safe distance but I’m lonely, Lord. Heal me because I cannot go one more step. I am faint; my mind is in agony; all night long my soul is in anguish. I’m worn out from all my anxieties.

How long, O Lord, how long?
Sincerely, The Hurt and Broken

Dear the Hurt and Broken,

I have heard your weeping. I keep track of all your sorrows. I have collected all your tears in my bottle. I have recorded each one in my book. There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time for war and a time for peace. There is time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven. My timing is perfect for I know what I am doing. Although this season hurts, I have a plan for your life, trust me. Do not give up this fight because I know the outcome. I have already won the Victory. Daughter, I love you so much.
Sincerely, God


Dear God,

I’m sorry that I ever doubted you. I know that you are perfect and holy. I’m so grateful that you hear every tear that falls and answer every request. Help me to take hold of my faith and hang on no matter what the storms of tomorrow bring. Right now hope is dangled in the winds of uncertainty. I don’t struggle with whether you will deliver on your promise to make something beautiful from the shattered remains of my life-I just wonder when. I thank you that I have recovered enough to believe that things will get better…somehow…someway. And maybe, just maybe, you’re not finished with me yet. Please help me to survive until the next chapter of my life.
Sincerely, your Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Remember that I am holding you with invisible hands. Don't worry about the rest.

 Sincerely, God

How You Should Not Help Me

My last post was about how to help me and what to say so I thought there should also be a post about things NOT to say to someone who is struggling with a mental illness. So many people want to help me but aren’t exactly sure how…so instead they chat away and tell me about what helped their “Great-Aunts-Cousins’-Sister-in-law” when they were depressed 25 years ago…I’m sorry, but what helped you or your friend may not work for me, and quite honestly, I don’t really want to hear about it. Here are some examples of what NOT to say to someone struggling with an mental illness:


Have you tried….(I get this one a lot)
Do you have any unresolved sin in your life?
There’s always someone worse off than you
No one said life was fair
Don’t feel sorry for yourself
Everyone gets depressed
Get over it
Just think positive
It’s your own fault
Believe me, i know how it feels. I was depressed once (for several days) and I just ___ and then I was fine!
Snap out of it
You have so many things to be thankful for, how can you be depressed?
You’d feel better if you got off all those pills
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger
Go out and have some fun
I know how you feel

All of these statements show that you don’t know what your talking about. Most people don’t understand….and that’s really ok! I would prefer it to be awkwardly quiet than hear one of these phrases. Try inserting some of these 

Hey, diabetic, you’d feel better if you came off those meds.
Hey, paraplegic, so you can’t use your legs, we create our own reality.
Hey, person who has MS, I know how you feel.

You get the idea. These sound completely unreasonable, and it’s no more reasonable to say to someone struggling with mental illness

I do understand that people don’t know they are being hurtful. People are trying to help. I get it. But here’s the thing, my illness is just as real as anyone else’s. Please stop forcing me to convince you.

And a Personal Update:

I’ve been back in the hospital for the past 3 months. We are waiting to get an OCD assessment in Toronto to see if they can offer me the OCD treatment that I need and I’m also meeting with a research team. If they decide that they can’t help me there than we will start filling out info to head to Boston’s OCD program. Please pray that we can have the assessment soon so I can finally get good treatment that I desperately need!  

Fall Update 2014

There is so much going on in my life that I don’t even know where to begin this update. I’ve been back in the hospital for just over 2 months now because I needed some help learning to manage my dissociative episodes (times where it’s as if I’m running on auto pilot-and not thinking clearly). I’ve learned some tricks and skills that I have been using to help me to manage these episodes. So the episodes have gotten somewhat better but I still can’t catch EVERY episode before it gets too severe.
Like Thursday, for example, I went outside to go for a short walk (by myself) like I had been doing frequently throughout the past few days. I thought everything was going smoothly but then all of a sudden I was on the train tracks in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no recollection of how I got there! I called my mom in a panic and after a little while we did some apple technology stuff that helped the police find where I was!
I know so many of my friends and family were praying and helping search for me…so thank you all so much, our prayers are being heard.
I also got my service dog, Zoë, in May! She has been wonderful!! She is learning so much (still lots of training to go though…) Not only is she incredibly smart…she’s also incredibly adorable and I just love her to pieces. Welcome to Team Schyff, Zoë!



Treatment-wise we are waiting to go to Toronto to meet with an OCD treatment team. This team will evaluate my OCD symptoms and decide if they think they would be able to help me there or if a hospital like Boston would be better suited to my needs.


A friends Journey

This is a post by one of my beautiful friends. This is her story. She has chosen to write anonymously but I would love to pass on messages of encouragement to her!
Mental illness. It’s something that has been popping up in the news in the last few years-teen suicides, bed shortages, criminal trials, just to name a few. It is estimated that 20% of Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. That’s 1 in 5 people. If you don’t personally have an illness, it is likely that someone close to you is struggling, whether you know it or not. Mental illness is not like most physical illnesses. Most of the time you can’t see it. And many individuals hide their battle due to the stigma that still surrounds mental health today. 
I, like many others, became quite skilled at hiding my illness. I’ve had people tell me that I have a “perfect” life. And superficially I did-I had a handful of friends, a loving family, was doing well in school, was athletic, etc. But nobody knew what was going on under the surface. To be honest, I didn’t even know what was happening until my depression was overwhelming.
Eventually I did seek treatment. However, with every medication they gave to me, the worse I got. And no amount of cognitive therapy made any difference.  After several visits to the ER I was finally admitted to the hospital to keep me safe. I stayed for over 6 months, and spent almost 2 months on “constant observation”. That meant a nurse stayed by my side 24/7-into the bathroom, the shower, everywhere. After I’d been in hospital a few months I started ECT. Basically they put me to sleep three times a week and then applied electricity to my brain to induce a seizure. It’s about as fun as it sounds.  But after a few weeks something completely unexpected (for me) happened-I started to feel better. 
I’ve since been discharged from the hospital but it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. My mental illness is still there. It’s not like an infection that goes away completely after a week of antibiotics. My antidepressants help, but they don’t remove my depression. 
Having depression sucks. Depression is not just being “sad”. It’s a feeling of such complete despair and hopelessness that suicide becomes an option-an enticing one too.  It turned my life (and my family’s/friends’) upside down. I was supposed to graduate a few weeks ago, but that didn’t happen.  I had to quit my job.  Several of my friends walked away.  And I felt like God was a million miles away. It is so hard to believe that God is still there and that He still cares when you cannot feel His presence or comfort. 
The most important thing that I have learned so far in my journey is that feelings are not facts. And to be honest, most of the time my feelings are the complete opposite of the truth. Just because you can’t feel God does not mean He is not there. Just because you feel like things are out of control does not mean that God is not carrying out his perfect plan for you. You are not useless, unimportant, unsavable, worthless, or unlovable. It is so easy to fall into believing these false truths simply because your mind tells you they are true.
Stop listening to what your brain is telling you and listen instead to what God has to say. God made you and says you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  You aren’t just a clump of cells that somehow managed to form a human being.  Furthermore, God loves you. He loves you so much that He died for you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done or what has happened to you-the cross was enough.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).  If you have accepted Christ as your Saviour, God “remembers your sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12) and you can approach Him with confidence, knowing that because of Jesus you are blameless in His sight (Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 10:19-23).  Finally, you have a purpose.  God has a perfect plan for your life.  A plan that will bring you closer to Him and help others that cross your path in their own spiritual journey.  “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 2911).  It’s hard to believe that sometimes.  The Bible tells us “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Mental illness does not feel good at all.  And it’s hard to see how something so painful for so many people can possibly be good.  But God has a plan.  He knows exactly what He’s doing and how this is going to turn out.  
You can’t let your feelings dictate your life.  I know they are there and they are intense and very convincing.  They appear to be the truth.  But they are not.  You can’t control them or make them go away, but you can choose to not let them control you.  It’s not easy (nowhere close actually) but with God it is possible.  Ask Him to help you distinguish between facts and feelings.  Write verses on cue cards and plaster them where you will see them frequently.  Read your Bible.  Have a few people you trust that can gently and lovingly tell you when you are believing your feelings and direct you to the truth. 


Not once does God ever promise that our lives will be easy.  In fact, He often tells us the opposite.  However, He does promise that He will be there beside you constantly (Deut. 31:6).  Even when you can’t feel Him.  Especially when you can’t feel Him (Psalm 34:18).  He also promises that in the end, He will win (John 16:33).  Today it may feel like you’re losing the battle.  But God will win the war.  He will destroy evil, and the pain of this sinful world will be erased.  Keep fighting- God’s got this.

How May I Help You?

We all find ourselves in situations where we feel we have no control, where we feel hopeless and alone. Maybe you’re suddenly without a job, lost in a stormy dark night, your relationship or marriage is spiralling out of control, your child shows you no respect, or a sickness or death leaves you breathless and now you feel your friends distancing themselves from you because they don’t know what to say or do. What would you like people to do for you if you were in one of these situations?

Most likely you would want them to do for you as I would want you to do for me. When you know I am cutting to try and stop the pain, when I’m running away from fear, when I am hearing illogical voices in my head that are constantly telling me untruths, or when you see me crouching in a corner, alone and inclosed by an inescapable sadness, please:

Take my hand and lift me up.

Show me compassion, not pity or disgust.

Tell me, retell me, assure me, that I am a woman of worth and significance.

Show me you love me with an unconditional love (Don’t just tell me!).

Show me grace.

Treat me as you would a “normal” person-because I am.


Invite me to be-and accept me as-your true friend.


Give me a shoulder to cry on.


Don’t abandon me.


Don’t be afraid to talk with me. I can share what I am comfortable with (some days will be different than others).


Try and understand me (all I ask is that you try).


Be honest and tell me what you’re thinking.


Don’t try and be my psychologist-leave that to the experts.


Pray for me and with me-only God is my complete healer!


Read/message me the truths of God’s word to me-I need to be reminded often. 




I’m here for you


You’re not alone in this


You are important to me


Do you want a hug? (please ask because somedays it may make things worse)


When all this is over, I’ll still be here and so will you


I can’t understand exactly what you are going through, but I am here to listen and support you


I’m not going to leave or abandon you


You’re not crazy


I love you (only if you mean it)


It sucks that you’re in so much pain


I’m not going to leave you; I’m going to take care of myself, so you don’t need to worry that your pain might hurt me


What can I do to help?


This must be very hard for you


I’m here for you; I’ll always be here


You are amazing, strong, and beautiful


You’ll get through this


You never have to apologize for your illness or feeling this way


I’m not scared of you

These statements show that you recognize that  I am in pain, that you don’t understand, and that you will be there for me anyways. Sometimes the best thing you can do is give me a little escape from my mind. Distract me with something fun and leave my illness aside for a while. I love to have fun but sometimes my illness gets in the way. 

I know I have significance in God’s sight. I know I am loved by him and that gives me a sense of purpose, hope, peace, and comfort that no one will ever experience unless you know Jesus Christ personally…but would it ever feel great if I could feel that, and hear that from you as well. I know it would speed my recovery and it would give you a sense that God is using you to heal me.

*Thank you to my wonderful Papa,

Jim Johnston, for helping me with this post! I love you!

"Conceal; Don’t Feel"

I watched Frozen again the other night and both times I watched it I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to my life with MI (mental illness). Could Disney be speaking of the dangers of stigmatizing MI and the power that love and acceptance has in recovery? Honestly, I don’t know…but the similarities were too much for me to pass up.
Elsa, one of the main characters in the film, has a “condition” that is strongly linked to her emotions. She has explosions of ice from her hands that she cannot control. With my mental illness I have emotions and actions that, at times, I cannot control.
When Elsa is little she accidentally hurts her sister, Anna, with her powers. I know there have been times where I have hurt other people when I’ve done things I didn’t mean to do.
Elsa and her parents become afraid that Elsa will become completely uncontrollable. They chose to shield everyone from her powers by keeping them a secret. They give her gloves to control her ice powers. My family and I are big believers in raising awareness for MI but there still has been times when the stigma has seeped into our minds. My family has never asked me to keep my illness a secret though, and they are completely supportive of this blog. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many children and teens. Many people go undiagnosed because they are afraid to have something “wrong” with them, or if they are diagnosed, it’s kept low key.
“Conceal; don’t feel” became Elsa’s motto. I could write a whole blog about trying to “control” my illness in a society that doesn’t understand it.
Elsa learns to shut everyone out of her life, even the people who desperately wanted to connect with her. I can’t even count how many times I’ve felt so unloveable and ashamed that i locked myself away from the people who care about me. To everyone who’s been trying to love me: you deserve a medal.
In the movie, Elsa has an embarrassing public outburst which causes some confusion and even some harsh criticism. One man repeatedly calls her a monster and tries to convince everyone that she is unfit to rule the kingdom.  I’m not sure if this is a negative or positive that I can’t remember most of what happens during a psychotic episode. Even though I can’t remember, I still feel so embarrassed for doing such silly things that I wouldn’t do in my right state of mind. At one point, Satan even had me convinced that I am unforgivable and that I would never make it to heaven.
Elsa runs away to the mountains by herself where she slowly learns to accept and even find beauty in her “condition.” The lyrics to the song Let it Go (It’s not just some little catchy song!) are so relatable to my life with MI! The song talks about holding everything inside because of shame, then “letting go” of it all, not letting the things that make you different hold you captive.
In the end, love is what restores Elsa, Anna, and their kingdom back to order. It is that love that inspires the entire kingdom to accept & embrace Elsa’s powers. I know that I wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for the power of unconditional love and support from my family, friends, and God.
Stigma keeps us silent.
Stigma keeps us away from others.
Stigma banishes us to the outskirts of society.
But love and acceptance can heal.
In order to teach the mentally ill how to love themselves; we must first learn how to love them.
It starts with the conversation. Lets talk!


(That is, if you can get Let it Go out of your head for a minute. 😉

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