By Lauren V. Macaraeg #LaurenMacDoodles
Welcome to my #Live4Infinity #LifeProject! My name is Lauren a.k.a. #LaurenMacDoodles. I started this simple personal project because I want to live life in light of infinity, as if I was going to live forever but also as if this was the last year of my life. I want to spend more time with family and friends because love is spelled T-I-M-E. I want to seek healing in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ways to survive and to live fully. I am opening up about my mental health struggles, especially depression and anxiety disorder, and other life challenges with you to encourage you just in case you are going through something too. You are not alone. I am also sharing this journey with you so that you won’t be too surprised at the lifestyle changes Mama Uni Macaraeg and I will be making. Please pray that the Lord will use me even in my brokenness to give hope to others who feel broken too. We love you all.
#LaurenAndMamu #MamaUniAndMe #Cutie #CutieTheCat #Family #2017 🐱
3 Reasons Behind My Live4Infinity Life Project:
1) I want to live for infinity. I want to live the best life possible, no matter how long or short my life on earth will be. While I will probably live until I am a hundred years old because I am MD, I still want to live each year as if it was the last year of my earthly life because we never really know. In order to try to live a life with the best quality and quantity possible, I need to make life choices in light of forever. When the time comes for me to go home to the Lord in heaven someday, which is hopefully many years away, I want to be at peace knowing I lived a life full of love and not regrets. Starting now.
“What would you do if this was the last year of your life?” the Lord asked me earlier this year.
“I want to spend more time with my family and friends,” I answered without hesitation.
It was then that I realized I already knew what I wanted out of life.
My greatest wish is to show my family and my friends that I love them and that God loves them. I want to let them know I love them, not because I want them to love me back, but because they already love me, even if I was too blind to see it for so many years. I want them to know I finally see them, that I am now finally thankful for them.
I want to show my love to others, people and animals alike, simply by spending time with them. After all, the best way that they have shown their love to me over the years is also time. They have helped me realize the truth that love is spelled T-I-M-E. They have helped me understand why Jesus’ name is Immanuel, “God with us”.
I have already tried to spend time with family and friends the past several years, but I want to continue doing so in the future in new and more meaningful ways. That’s why the focus of three future personal projects under Live4Infinity is time: #ProjectTIME (creating new memories), #ProjectPICMIRACLE (collecting remembrances of memories) and #ProjectTHANKYOU (thank you letters for family and friends). Details to follow.
However, before I start giving my time, effort and energy to others again, I need to give time to someone I have missed very much: myself. I need time to heal first. At this point, I just feel tired and drained, physically and mentally. After years of trying too hard to give of myself in spite of all my imperfections, I don’t feel like I have anything to give to others anymore. Because of that…
2) #ProjectHEAL (journey of healing) is the first personal project under Live4Infinity that I will launch. I need the time and opportunity to seek God’s healing in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of my life. My mom and I need to make lifestyle changes so that we can be healed, restored and transformed with God’s help.
It has been a tough year for Mama Uni and me, although it may not be obvious to others since we’re not the type to broadcast our problems to everyone. We try to manage as best as we can on our own, and we ask for help from close family members and friends only if absolutely necessary. We are still bubbly, cheerful and friendly, not because our life is so perfect (yeah, right!), but because we try to make the best of things in spite of all our challenges. However, the stress and pressure have been extremely great this year with all the back-to-back problems that it has negatively affected our health. We’ve barely even recovered from one trial when another one suddenly comes our way. In the midst of it all, we continue to experience pressure and inconsideration from others, although we know it’s mostly unintentional. Thankfully, we continue to experience kindness, thoughtfulness, grace and concern from others too. We have faith that the Lord has a good purpose for everything, but to be honest, tao din lang kami. Nakakapagod lang minsan.
I know it’s not obvious that we are facing a lot of challenges because we don’t often look like it. Why, do we have to make ourselves look like it?!? 😂 No thanks. Haha. Just because we feel like crap sometimes, it doesn’t mean we intentionally have to make ourselves look like crap too. Anyway, we do have our bad hair days and sandpaper skin days and haggard days when we don’t even have to try 😜 Lol.
Please pray for our physical health. I will share more about our health struggles later on. Please be assured that we do not have any terminal illnesses, by God’s grace, just to clarify in case anybody is worried. But our recent health conditions are serious enough to serve as a wake-up call and a clear reminder that we need to take better care of our bodies which God has given us. Let’s put it this way: My isaw food trip days are over 😂
I already intended to minimize my activities to help out my mom a little more after she faced health challenges earlier this year. I did not expect that I would face new health issues myself and have my mom take care of me instead for the past month. Thankfully, we’re both feeling better, but we still need to take good care of our physical health.
Please pray for my mental health. My anxiety disorder and depression are back. The Lord already healed me from these mental health struggles years ago. Why did they return? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s because of the stress caused by our problems, other people, and my own self. Perhaps it’s because my social life has been highly imbalanced during the past two years: For the first time in years, there are way more people leaning on me emotionally, than the people I can lean on (thankfully, the family and old friends I used to lean on emotionally are not naman fully gone, but most are either far away, married, busy with their lives, work or kids, going through something difficult, or they simply have changed. I miss them all. But I am thankful for all my new friends also and for how they have reached out to me so freely. It’s largely my fault for not being able to develop new friendships as much as I should have). Perhaps I was trying too hard to be strong for my mom. Perhaps I was trying too hard to fulfill my commitments to God and to others even if nahihirapan na ako at kahit hindi na ako masaya. Perhaps I just didn’t take care of myself well enough. I don’t know. All I know is that things have to change.
I will share more about my mental health conditions later on, but let me just say this for now: Please be assured that just because I am now battling anxiety disorder and depression again, it doesn’t mean that I’m sad all the time. The strange thing is, I’m actually happy, or at least cheerful, most of the time. I just often get crippling anxiety attacks and depressed moods late at night when I try to sleep (and occasionally during the day time on crappy days). So when you see me smiling or laughing, it is real, at least most of the time (although yes, I admit there are occasional social situations where I have to force myself to smile to be polite and civil even if I don’t feel like it for the sake of others. I suck at forcing smiles though 😁 Awkward haha). My cheerful face is not some mask I put on to cover my struggles (I often hear depressed people being described as “laughing on the outside, crying on the inside”. It might be true for some persons. Pero hindi naman dahil depressed ang isang tao ay pang-cover up lang lahat ng happy expressions niya). Sa totoo lang, I will totally be bored and frustrated if I don’t find something to laugh about every day. That’s who I am. Actually, one of the reasons my sense of humor is well-developed, aside from the fact that it runs in the family, is because I have intentionally tried to cheer myself up over the years while battling depression when I was younger. As a result, seeing the funny side of things has grown automatic to me. Aside from myself, I also know some people who are fun to be with even if they are also going through mental health struggles. Please be aware that not all people who are going through depression look and act emo (hmm, maybe I should try the emo look for a day just for kicks though?! Bring on the heavy eyeliner!).
Actually, I am already starting to get better, both physically and mentally. The changes we have been making lately are a big help, by God’s grace. Still, I need to continue this journey of healing, because every time I have started to get better earlier this year and prematurely pushed myself again beyond my limits, I would go on a downward spiral again. This time, even if I’m starting to heal already, I will do my best to allow myself the opportunity to heal fully and thoroughly.
3) I plan to share our journey with all of you because you matter to us.
I want you to be aware that we are currently making lifestyle changes so that you will not be too surprised, worried or hurt if we do not behave like our old usual selves. I will share more about these changes later on, but for now, let me tell you about these basic changes in the early stages of #ProjectHEAL and #ProjectTIME:
I have gradually been lessening my social activities, both online and in real life, as some of you have already noticed. And as I try to change my social life patterns, I am now starting to prioritize family and friends even more over ministry. I am also starting to prioritize real-life interactions over virtual interactions via social media.
Last but not least, I am trying to be more real to myself (I almost never try to change myself for the sake of making others like me. But as a Christian, I thought dying to one’s self meant often ignoring my feelings and personal needs for the sake of Christ. Di rin pala. We need to take care of ourselves too. To be continued). Mas maganda sa Tagalog: Mas nagpapakatotoo na ako sa sarili ko 🙂
It’s not you, it’s just me, trying to get better. I appreciate your patience since I know I owe many of you a lot of bonding dates, pictures and videos, thank you letters for all your wonderful gifts and treats, replies to messages, birthday greetings, likes, etc. I’ll explain later on and try to get back to you when I can.
I honestly considered simply and suddenly disappearing from social media for a while while I am healing. And I still plan to take a full social media break later on (and if I can, I will try to post our photos of important family events before I take my big break). But I don’t want to do it without giving you notice or explaining why I am taking a break for a while. I know I don’t have to. But I want to do it. I’ve run away from too many people in the past without any warning. I’ve hurt too many people before and I don’t want to do it again. I want this time to be different. I want it to be a different me this time.
Someday, when I am much better, I will also try to launch #ProjectHELLO (personal sharing) so that you will understand me much better.
Thanks to everybody for your prayers and love! From the bottom of my weary heart, I appreciate each and every one of you who have reached out in grace, understanding and concern even if you did not fully understand what we were going through. I am even thankful for those who made this challenging year an even more challenging one, and I am saying this without any sarcasm, because people who pushed me beyond my limits (and I believe most of them did so unintentionally naman) helped me to understand God’s limitless heart a little better. And while I don’t understand why people believe in me when I don’t always believe in myself, I am thankful for your trust and confidence in me. While I need to take a breather from stressful and toxic social situations to recover, please know that I am thankful for all of you who have been part of my life in one way or another. And I will always consider you all as my friends.
I’m just taking things day by day and I have no idea where this project will lead. Bahala na si Lord.
The Origins of Live4Infinity Life Project
I once promised the Lord many years ago that I would try to help people suffering from mental health conditions if He helped me overcome my depression back then. In His mercy, God not only lifted me out of the pit of depression, but He flooded my being with joy also. I did mean to keep my promise to help others with mental health struggles, but for a long time, I wasn’t sure exactly how to do it. As the years went by, I became so cheerful and contented that my depression and anxiety disorder seemed like a distant dream. I tried to serve God in other ways in the meantime, even if not directly in the area of mental health awareness. Then something happened.
We lost my cousin Mico in 2015. He took his life after doing his best to battle with depression and prolonged physical sickness. I wanted to write about my mental health struggles in honor of Mico’s memory. At that time, the pain was still too raw for me to write right away, but that’s when the idea for my Live4Infinity Life Project was born.
I already had plans to start this project earlier this year as my own little way to give back, especially after I won last year as #MostFavoriteWriter during Lampara Publishing House, Inc.’s #AklatAwards2016, by God’s grace and with everyone’s help. I believe the Lord blesses us so we can pass on the blessing to others. Then a lot of things happened. The launch of this project got delayed, but perhaps there is a purpose to that too. A year ago, I originally planned to share a message about hope and love as someone strong who has overcome mental health challenges with the Lord’s help. Now, I am still going to share the same message about hope and love, but not as a survivor looking back at her difficult past, but as someone weak who is undergoing mental health challenges right here, right now. Perhaps God can work better through me in my weakness than in my strength.
Do I worry that other people will judge me? Oo naman. Minsan. Alam ko naman na some people do not and will not understand. I’d like to believe that it’s not because they don’t care, but they simply do not have the personal experience to comprehend what people with mental health issues are going through. I am aware that we do not have a thorough understanding of mental health in the Philippines in general. That’s why Filipinos with mental health conditions often experience stigma, sometimes even in the Christian community, even if other people have good intentions. Still, if with the Lord’s help, I can give hope to even one single person because I shared openly about my mental health struggles, if I can encourage one single person to open up to others or admit to himself or herself that he or she needs help, if I can encourage just one single person to choose life over death, it’s already more than worth it. I want to thank everyone who has shown me unconditional love, acceptance, compassion and understanding when I first opened up about my depression and anxiety disorder many years ago – my mom, my dad, my family, my friends, my churchmates in San Francisco. The grace you have freely given me is my source of courage up to now. Some of you are still near, while some of you are now far away. Pero ang matibay na pagmamahal na kusang ibinigay niyo ay laging mananatili sa puso ko ❤️
The wish of my heart is that these random scribbles of this broken girl will give even a little hope to you. My prayer to the Lord is that my awkward attempts in sharing about my own mental health struggles and life challenges will give hope to those who are also suffering from seemingly impossible problems, physical sickness, depression, anxiety disorder, mental health conditions, suicidal thoughts, hopelessness and despair.
I am sharing our new journey with you, not because I have the secrets to healing and recovery, but simply so that you know that you are not alone. Hindi ka nag-iisa. There is hope. Even in the darkest night, there is hope.
Hope for the past to be redeemed. Hope for the present. Hope beyond time and infinity.
Let’s hope together.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – Jesus Christ (John 10:10) #John1010
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) #1Corinthians1313
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) #John316
“Only in silence the word
Only in dark the light
Only in dying life:
Bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.”
The Creation of Ea
– A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
#Live4Infinity #LifeProject by #LaurenMacDoodles #LaurenVMacaraeg: #Introduction 11.30.2017
#Healing #MentalHealthAwareness #MentalHealthPH #Depression #FaceOfDepression #AnxietyDisorder #SuicideAwareness #PhysicalHealth #Health #Wellness #Health #Wellness #Love #Family #Friends #AmazingGrace #LoveIsSpelledTIME #GodWithUs
5 Projects Under My Live4Infinity Life Project:
Coming Soon: #ProjectHEAL #ProjectTIME
To Follow Later On When I Get Better: #ProjectPICMIRACLE #ProjectTHANKYOU #ProjectHELLO
In memory of my handsome cousin, Michael “Mico” Manotok (September 14, 1994 – May 2, 2015)