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Skeletons in My Closet…

I’m often asked how I can work with families that are surviving the same tragedy I’ve endured. “Is it cathartic?”, “Doesn’t it bring back bad memories from your experience?”.  I’ve even had board members quit because it was too emotionally draining.

The answer to these questions is “Yes.” Yes, it’s cathartic. Yes, it hurts to be reminded of my own loss. And yes, it’s too emotionally draining.

Watching the news makes me have panic attacks.

I have generalized anxiety disorder. I’m on medicine for it, but that doesn’t keep my heart from flipping inside of my chest when I hear of another murder.

I also have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I’m on medication for this as well. But again, it doesn’t keep me from hearing about a murder and then obsessing over why someone hasn’t given them our information. It doesn’t stop the compulsion to find them on Facebook, and searching for anyone in the media that will forward our information to them.

As if that wasn’t enough, I have Bipolar Disorder. Of course there’s medication for this too… (sidebar: I take so many damn pills, I have to use one of those pill counters and my medications have made me gain about 100 pounds!). But the bipolar part of my personality throws me into deep depressions. I don’t want to get out of bed… that is if I even crawl in it. If I do go to bed, and my mind is still racing about the things I need to accomplish, I can’t sleep. The lack of sleep feeds the depression, and around and around we go…

The manic part of this disorder keeps me up until 4:40AM trying to finish some projects I’ve started, or writing. It convinces me that I can make a change in the world if I just give it my all.

I had all of these issues before Corey was killed. I’d almost had it completely managed with my medications… but then all hell broke loose! If you throw a murder into someone’s home, it tends to throw you for a loop. Now they’ve added PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to the mix.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m really quite a mess. I’ve been fighting this for about a decade.

But here’s the thing: I would be worse if I heard of a murder and didn’t do anything to help someone through it. Especially since I know I can help!

I have some really good excuses to sit on my ass for the rest of my life and feel sorry for myself. No one would blame me. I suffer from mental illness, and my son was murdered. Either of those two issues would be more than enough to justify my checking out.

That isn’t what I was made for though. I was made by my Heavenly Father to help others. As cliche as it sounds, my God does NOT create junk! He does NOT make mistakes. In His eyes, I am not broken… I’m exactly what He wanted me to be.

A fighter. Survivor. Warrior.

I’m a mom.

That’s the answer to the question, “How do I work with families that are surviving the same tragedy I’ve endured?”

I’m a mom.

Notice, I never said “I am Bipolar”, or “I am an anxious person”… I never said “I AM mentally ill”.  I have those things.  I am not defined by them.

However, I did say I AM a MOM.

That is what defines me.

That is what keeps me moving forward.

What skeletons are in your closet? Do they keep you tied down? Do you watch the news and say, “Oh, poor lady! She lost her son.” then walk into the kitchen to make dinner?

If I make no excuses (though I’m entitled)… what’s your excuse for not stepping up?

I have more skeletons in my closet.  But for now, these are the ones I need to share.

Michelle Metje

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