Tag Archives: fear

Dreams Of The Witch-House

*trigger warning* Contains descriptions of dreams involving needles

I’ve always had a weird thing about witches. By “weird thing,” I mean legitimate fear that one would cast a spell on me and manipulate my actions. When I was involved in really extreme, charismatic spirituality, a few authority figures told me I was vulnerable to the spirit of witchcraft. I didn’t really know what that meant. They said it was about the need to control everything, because a witch’s power is all about controlling the elements. Looking back, I feel like “spirit of witchcraft” is just a really bizarre and terrifying way of saying “control freak.”

In college, I wasn’t really as scared of witches as when I was younger, but there was a new fear creeping in. A fear of my sexuality. I became more scared of men and drawn to women, and even though I didn’t believe being gay or bisexual was a sin, or even that the lifestyle was, I was afraid I was wrong. I would dream about a dark-haired woman a lot, and became convinced an evil spirit was visiting me. I abandoned the hyper-spiritual, casting-out-of-demons-constantly lifestyle soon after, simply because I was so exhausted, but I never really “deprogrammed” myself from it.

I read a lot from different spiritual authors like Rachel Held Evans, and went to regular counseling where some of my sexuality issues were resolved. I was able to acknowledge that I was bisexual, but because I was engaged to Chris, I never had to unpack it more than that.

My spiritual life is nothing like it used to be, where every panic attack was treated like an expression of demonic forces or reading the Bible was a desperate attempt to defend myself. But I still dream. I think dreams are the soul’s way of remembering things we wish we could forget.

This week, I dreamed that a witch attempted to take over my body by sewing a long line of thread through my ankle and earlobe. Every time I pulled out the thread to free myself, she would patiently start again. I kept repeating buzz words and phrases I had learned from charismatic teachers back in the day, but nothing worked. Finally, the spiritual counselor who had the biggest influence on me (and who was the one told me I had been molested and then offered no guidance as to how to deal with that revelation), showed up, and the witch went away. She would be back, though, and I was suddenly in one of my old houses lying in bed, in the dark, with tiny needles embedded in my skin. I couldn’t move, but I could hear people outside. They were preparing for the witch’s arrival, and said that I had to let her partially into my body before they could get rid of her. There was a lot more to the dream, but the most notable part was when I was able to see into the witch’s past and see her. I remember really worrying that she would look like one of the actresses I’ve had a crush on for a while.

There’s that whole bisexual fear again. In my head, I’m totally comfortable with it, but underneath is a different story. As soon as I really confront it, it freaks me out. If I wasn’t married to Chris, and the possibility of being in a relationship with a woman was more of a reality, I would need some serious counseling. Now, I don’t know how much it matters. The dreams never bother me, and I know they’re not real. I think it might just take time. I just assumed I was over all that stuff with casting out demons and being stalked by a witch spirit who was making me like girls, but maybe not. I figure the farther away from it I get, time-wise, the less it will affect me.


The Day After

I’m still in shock. I don’t want to read any articles, watch any videos, or do anything that would allow my mind to accept this as reality.

But I have to. We all have to. Trevor Noah put it best: “Feel discouraged and upset, but don’t let it turn into fear, because fear is what Trump uses.”

Trump won because of fear. Fear is the enemy of love.

Even though it seems like we’re doomed, it’s not really over. Love can still win. Our job now is to protect those who suffer under a Trump presidency, including those who voted for him. That’s what loves does.

God give us strength.

when fear asks the wrong question

The greatest disagreement Chris and I have had in our relationship is children. He’s always wanted kids, and when we got married, he knew I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but I was very young, and we both assumed I would gradually come around to the idea. I haven’t. In fact, I’ve become more resistant to it.

We’ve had a lot of tough conversations. There have been lots of tears. It seemed like the question we both had to face was, “Do I have to choose between the person I love or the life I always imagined having?” For Chris, that life meant children. For me, it meant not having children. We reached an impasse.

I knew something was wrong with the question we were asking. I’ve always been very analytical and self-aware, and any question that seemed designed for heartbreak made me suspicious. I fully believe that there is no fear in love, and to be so fearful meant there was something going on.

I’ve had to ask myself a million times, why don’t I want children? It always comes back to my mental illness. The idea of pregnancy terrifies me. The medication I’m on has such a bad rap that there’s a thing called “Effexor babies,” where women have sued after being on high doses while pregnant, and having children with birth defects or who died. Of course, the healthcare system insists the risk isn’t too bad, but they have a horse in the race. Reading stories from actual women has convinced me that any kind of strong antidepressant is going to mess with the natural development of a child. However, the other option, going off medication, is just as scary and risky. Severe depression can affect a fetus’ growth just as much as a drug.

My fears don’t stop there, though. No matter what route I go, that’s just 9-10 months. It’s doable. But, then the baby is born, and it’s here for the rest of my life. It’s overwhelming. I’m at a point where I can just care for my own mental state, how on earth can I be expected to take care of a kid? Another human being, who is essentially a sponge? And then there’s the increased risk of the child also developing a mental illness, so that’s another layer of responsibility.

In going over my reasons, I noticed that Chris was entirely absent from my thought process. And then I realized that the reason I’m so overwhelmed is because I imagine dealing with all the complexities of parenting + mental illness by myself. I don’t have confidence that Chris would know how to deal. I’ve never imagined my life with kids because I’ve never known my life free from the ever-looming presence of mental illness, and I’ve never known what having a real partner in the fight is like. That doesn’t mean that Chris doesn’t support me or is unhelpful. It’s just that depression/anxiety has always been my “thing” that he comes in and out of, it isn’t something he lives with like I live with it. If we’re going to be a real team, we both have to live with it. If we were truly united, I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed about the idea of kids.

The real question isn’t choosing between us or a kid. It is, “How do we get on the same team when it comes to mental illness?” That’s something a counselor can help us with, and has lots of solutions both practically and spiritually. It’s a question we can tackle without feeling like we’re just butting heads. Fear always likes to ask the question that only has one, usually horrible answer, but that’s not how love works.

faith is just letting go of the horses

Screenshot 2016-02-03 at 6.35.08 PM.pngSo much of my life has been about control. When I was young, strong emotions scared me. They were like wild horses that had been leashed to a cart that I was riding in. If I wasn’t able to rein the horses in, they would take off, hurdling me towards some other unknown doom.

Trusting God and control do not well together. Jesus wants to take the reins, but I’m white-knuckling it, telling him, “No way, man. You’re going to take me someplace weird, someplace I don’t know, without signs. And these horses. You don’t know them like I do.”

Depression is a wild one. You would think he would be an old mule, slow, but Depression doesn’t work that way. This guy wants to take us all off a cliff. He is bent on destruction and he’s very hard of hearing, so no matter how often I tell him that it’s okay or how loudly, he never quite believes me.

Anger comes next. I’m not even sure she’s a horse. She might be part dragon; that would explain the smoke. She snaps at the other horses and wants to trample everyone in our path, even the people I love. She wasn’t always this hard to control, but as I get older, she’s getting worse.

The third horse is Anxiety. He’s very skittish and gets sick to his stomach a lot. He will slow down whenever we’re heading into a new place, and he’s terrified of strangers.

And then there’s Fear, Anxiety’s mother. Fear is the oldest, and her eyesight isn’t very good anymore, so she’s very paranoid. She looks a lot like Anxiety, but don’t be mistaken, she’s much different. She’s a leader. She’s not as unsure as Anxiety. Fear can pull this thing in any direction she wants.


There’s been one thing in my life I have had the most troubling thinking about letting go: Yoshi, my dog. It’s been a very real possibility three times in my life. The first was when we were trying to crate-train him, and he barked all night. The second was when we moved to an apartment and he hated it so much that he developed severe separation anxiety, and would bark all day, bothering the neighbors. The third was very recently, when Chris was waiting to hear about a job that would take us out of state, and not necessarily into a position where we could take Yoshi back from Chris’ parents.

Thinking about giving Yoshi to a shelter literally made me feel ill. I couldn’t sleep at night. Whenever someone brought it up, I dug my heels in. I didn’t even want to consider it. It was too much to bear.

Then the new job became a real possibility, and I had to face it, because I knew if it came through, but we wouldn’t be able to keep Yoshi, I would have to let him go. Chris really wanted the job, and I couldn’t tell him, “Wait for something else, one that lets us keep Yoshi.” Chris loves Yoshi, too, but in the end, we both knew it was ultimately my decision.

I would lie awake at night, my emotions running through my veins like fire ants, like wild horses. This was when I prayed, though it really just seemed like a form of a panic attack. I would focus on the one thing, on my desire to keep Yoshi, and lay it before God.

Lay your burdens before God. 

I’ve heard that phrase my whole life, but I’ve never really known what it meant, exactly. I do know, or at least, I know what it means for me. It meant letting myself feel the stress, the fear, the anxiety, the anger, with the intention to expose it all to God. He sees everything, but there are times when we hide ourselves, like Adam and Eve did in the garden. We don’t want him to see. This time, though, I wanted Him to see it all, in its shredded, blistering wreck. I went over and over my one prayer again and again, from all angles. My wish broke down piece by piece, from, “I want to keep Yoshi” to “I want to not feel sick when I think about letting go of Yoshi,” and finally to, “I want to be able to go of Yoshi.”

And there were still more layers, because I knew that I had faced this twice before, and both times, I had gotten to keep Yoshi. I didn’t want this to be a test, where I faked letting go with the expectation that God would “come through” at the last second. So I prayed for that, too, because pretending to let go and letting go are completely different things.

I don’t know how long it took, or when it even happened. That’s the most important part of the story, though, because it proves that it wasn’t anything that I did. I made a choice, yes, to even try to let go, but I can’t explain the actual thing. Three things happened:

  1. Chris got the job.
  2. It was better than we could have imagined.
  3. We are able to keep Yoshi.


The horses are calm. I look at Jesus, shocked, and see how he handles the reins. His hands are rough from years of taming these creatures, strong, and supremely more experienced than mine. Where I frighten them, He soothes them. Where I am lax, He is firm, and where I am brutal, He is gentle. We are far from the cliff, from the places where their hooves catch on stones, and where there is no grass or fresh water. Something else is different, too. He has brought His own horse, a breed I don’t recognize, and a color I’ve only seen in that moment between sleep and awake. It is leashed to the front of the cart, leading the others so confidently, it’s like they’ve become one body. When I ask what His horse’s name is, it all makes sense.




I wrote a book!

So, I wrote a little book called “To the Brokenhearted: Being a Christian with Depression,” and it will be coming to Kindle very soon. I’m using their direct publishing service, and I’m super excited for everyone to check it out. It’s about my experiences with depression and anxiety, specifically as a Christian, and the lessons I’ve learned on how to deal with symptoms, people who deny mental illness, and so on. I have an author page on Facebook set up: https://www.facebook.com/eshubertyauthor

“Like” me and stay tuned!

With Unexpected Speed

I did not expect to be dealing with all this so soon.

I had recently passed my two-year anniversary and was looking out the car window at the blur of fields and barns. Occasionally we would pass clumps of trees, but they would fly by so fast, it was like they had never been there at all. When I tried to focus on a small detail like a single branch or house in the distance, it would immediately bleed into the oddly-linear hues of gray, green, yellow, brown, and blue. My mind was wandering. It had only been two years since I signed a piece of paper, said goodbye to my dog as he left for his new home with my in-laws, and woke up a married woman. In a lot of ways, it seemed like yesterday. However, it also seemed like forever ago. In those two years, me and my husband have dealt with mental breakdowns, horrendous medication withdrawals, a crisis of faith (ongoing), employment turmoil, sexual identity questions, loneliness, relationship doubts, and looming financial challenges. I was not naive when I got married. I knew all this and more was part of the deal; I just didn’t expect it all to happen so soon and so quickly.

Isn’t marriage supposed to have a honeymoon period? You know, that brief time when everything is rose-colored and you’re just happy to wake up next to your person every morning? I’m not saying I’m unhappy to be waking up with my person, but there was never a time when that happiness wasn’t mixed with anxiety and questions chewing on my brain like termites.

Is my unemployment a burden to this clear-eyed, optimistic, occasionally goofball-ish man I’ve yoked myself to?

Will the pharmacy screw up my medication again and disrupt my entire week with crippling muscle pain, headaches, and frantic doubts about everything? Are those bone-shaking doubts just symptoms of an unstable mind, or legitimate concerns I should be listening to?

Should I have gotten married when I did? Am I too young and immature? 

Will I ever be in a place to have kids? Do I even want kids? What happens to us if I don’t want kids? 

Even before we got married, we were faced with having to give up our dog Yoshi and the distinct possibility he would never be adopted. Thankfully, Chris’ parents took him back to Indiana with them, but that raises its own issues, like feeling the self-inflicted internal pressure to make enough money to get a place where we can take him back.

Do other married people have these problems? I’m sure they do. And I’m positive that couples have faced worse unemployment, worse debt, worse mental illness, and so on. I want to always be aware of the privilege I have, but I’m selfish and self-pitying. I see other couples with Instagram-perfect lives and go between feeling glad I’m not a fraud, and then furious that we’re not them. I see other couples having or planning babies, and I’m flabbergasted that they aren’t freaking the f*** out every minute of every day. I envy identity/orientation confidence. I envy white-picket fences and Tuesday date nights and dishwashers. But mostly, I fear.

I fear I will never be happy at the same church as my husband.
I fear 9-5 jobs and “work shoes” and imperfect bosses.
I fear eternal debt.
I fear little pink capsules and inefficient pharmacies.
I fear loneliness because I don’t dare get close to other women.

I fear God and His timing, which is so unlike our own, that to Him nothing is “unexpected, “too soon,” or “too late.” 

Childhood Fears

The first real fear I remember experiencing was a fear of witches. Given the fact that I was not born during the late 1600’s or even on the West Coast of the US, this probably seems odd. While I may not have been born during the Salem witch trials, I was a young person in an Evangelical world when the Harry Potter phenomena erupted into popular culture like a firestream from hell. While many Christian kids got to read the books and enjoy the subsequent movies unquestioned, there was a small but aggressive Evangelical sect of Christianity that viewed Harry Potter with deep suspicion. It was probably the only thing they had in common with the Catholics. I don’t know its origins or even why my parents – normally so reasonable in all things – fell prey to it. Someone my parents knew must have brought up Harry Potter as a source of nefariousness, because before I even really knew what it was, my brother and I were not allowed to read the books or see the films. When we made friends who wondered why, my brother and I were given a video entitled “Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged” that would answer all our questions. The goal of the film was to show how Harry Potter was responsible for a renewed interest in paganism, the occult, and Satanism. It was “repackaging” a dangerous, soul-damning practice into a nice story about a messy-haired wizard boy with glasses. The video consisted of:

  1. Ominous music playing over black-and-white photos of J.K. Rowling, including one in which she appeared like a floating head with no body
  2. Multiple scenes from the 1996 movie, “The Craft,” one which featured a young girl getting struck by lightning and possessed
  3. Shaky footage from “Wiccan spring fertility” ceremonies, with more ominous music added
  4. A “real-life” witch pretending to fly around a cauldron on a broomstick during Halloween
  5. Screenshots from Harry Potter chat rooms where tweens asked how they could study witchcraft and cast spells to make their crushes like them

After watching this video, I was on constant alert. I would hear stories about other Evangelicals who met real-life witches and the weird things that would happen, like children having constant nightmares after walking past a witch’s house, and my fear persisted. I was simultaneously drawn to and horrified by the “Alternative Beliefs” section in Barnes and Noble, where they stocked tomes such as “Wicca and Witchcraft for Dummies” and “Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living.” If I lingered too long, I would worryt hat I had “picked something up,” which is a real term for when a demonic spirit latches onto an unsuspecting host and messes with their lives. The solution was to use the Bible or other prayers to send it away, almost in a spell-like fashion.

Women were especially vulnerable to the effects and allure of witchcraft, probably because Eve was the one who Satan went after and successfully tempted into eating the forbidden fruit. In terms of “sin origins,” which means the real root of any sin a person can commit (i.e. if you only think about yourself and are inconsiderate of others, you are guilty of pride), witchcraft is considered the sin of control. If you like to control everything in your life, you are vulnerable to witchcraft. This was very troubling to a 12-year old perfectionist who hated spontaneity. Would I accidentally become a witch? I was tempted to google “spells,” just to see, but if I did that, I could be kidnapped by a coven who had my IP address and then there would be no going back. I often lay awake at night in a cold sweat, terrified I would die and go to hell. I mistook panic attacks for demonic possession. Witchcraft was everywhere, and I couldn’t escape it.

Once the correct diagnosis of anxiety cleared up most of my concerns about my own soul and I spent less time lying awake contemplating damnation, my fear of witchcraft faded. Besides seeing occasional bumper stickers that read “Get a taste of religion, lick a witch,” I have never actually met anyone who professed to be a witch. I also started to learn more about “alternative beliefs” from sources other than Evangelical video companies and realized that Wicca and Satanism are not – in fact – one and the same. Even if I did meet a witch, they would not immediately attach a demon to my back. A Satanist wouldn’t even do that. That’s just a dick move. If I ever do something that would warrant that kind of action, I probably deserve it. Some things haven’t changed though. I still refuse to see “The Craft.”

Embracing the Ordinary

For a long time, I was restless with where I was in life. So much of it felt like a waiting game. Waiting to go to college, waiting to find someone to spend my life with, waiting for a job….it felt like I was in the lobby of life. If only something would happen, something exciting, something significant. 

The thing with always waiting is that there is always something to wait for. When I focused on the waiting, that was all I was ever doing. When I started counseling again last year, a big part of it was learning to set goals. 

My therapists in the past were never goal-driven, it was more about exploring feelings and explaining why I thought about certain things the way I did. It got exhausting. I was rehashing my past over and over again and there was no way out. I had one counselor in high school who was a listener, not a talker, so I felt pressured to just talk the whole time. It was helpful for a while, I was able to unearth what I thought myself and the world around me, but I’ve always been very self-aware, so I started wishing she would just tell me how to change what I thought. My counselor my firsts year of college was better, she provided more insights of her own. The depression was really bad that year, I was involved in a lot of dramatic and intense spiritual activities, and my medication was erratic, so we focused mostly on keeping me from having night terrors and being terrified of boys. When I left for Macalester, I had to leave that counselor behind. My next counselor I only saw for a few months. I stopped seeing her when I tried to talk through my confusion about my sexuality and I felt like she was arguing with me. When I decided to go back into counseling and start afresh with someone new, I knew I had to have goals. 

Therapy is not supposed to go on forever. It is not only expensive, but it is ineffective if you have to keep going back to the same person over and over again for the same problems. And I mean consistent counseling. Clearly, some of us will just need to check in with a therapist once and while to get back on track, but one session per week therapy should not go on for years at a time. I was going to have to set goals.

I’ve always had big dreams. When I was a little kid, I asked my parents what the first day of college would be like. I had dreams about being a pop singer in 5th grade. I wanted to be a mermaid when I was thirteen. I wanted to be marine biologist. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be a writer. For me, it is easy to be motivated about the big stuff, the important stuff. It has always been the ordinary things that brought me down.

When I started counseling last year, my goals were simple: 

Go to the grocery store alone.

Get dressed everyday. 

Do the laundry. 

I was terrified of leaving the apartment. I had this constant anxiety and fear of meeting people and being seen. I wasn’t afraid that they would hurt me. Just being looked at was enough to make my skin feel hot and my eyes dry out. It was like other people could see through my outside and read my mind, see all my fears, all my failures. I was terrified of looking stupid. Being told I was beautiful by Chris and my therapist even made me nervous, because it meant that other people would think that too, and my appearance would draw their attention to me and then I would be exposed. I just wanted to be invisible. 

I didn’t care about achieving the big dreams anymore. I just wanted to be able to walk down three flights of stairs to do laundry. 

I can do that now. Over the past year, I’ve been freed from my agoraphobia and go the store once every two weeks, do laundry, and even drive myself to places I’ve never been to before. Doing the ordinary things used to mean very little to me. Ordinary things are the bare minimum, the expected, the “easy” things in life. Everyone can do those.

Hitting rock bottom told me that is not true. I found victory in walking up and down three flights of stairs with a basket of warm laundry. I can appreciate the elegance of pumping my own gas for the car and going to the grocery store. Embracing the ordinary has helped calm my restless spirit and brought me from my fantasy land to the real world, where anything can be hard and everything is significant. 


Have A Nice Day

You know what bugs me? That attitude of, “Hey, you don’t have a good day, you choose a good day. Seize that diem.” In my mind, it’s usually accompanied by a wink and finger pistol.

I get the general concept. People should make the best of things, take positive action, and so forth. It gets annoying because sometimes, you just have a really bad day, and nothing you tell yourself is going to change that, and it certainly doesn’t help when someone else is telling you it’s only a bad day if you decide it is a bad day.

With depression, I have very little choice about what kind of day I’m going to have. Every day is a crap shoot, and for someone like me, who likes to be in control of things and likes stability, it’s exhausting. One day might be really good. I do all the things I’m supposed to be thinging, and then, for some unknown reason, I can’t go to sleep until 6am and then I’m comatose until 2 in the afternoon and the whole day is just trying to eat food that doesn’t make me sick and trying not to fall asleep again. That is a bad day. The kind of people who say things like, “You choose a good day” seem to be the kind of people whose good days outnumber the bad ones. They don’t have to try so hard to make the best of things. Their lives seem…consistent.

I envy consistency. I’ve never felt jealousy so much in my life as I do now, when I’m convinced I’ve paid my dues when it comes to mental health, and the waves just keep rolling. It’s like being in an ocean. There are storms, there are moments of calm, but inevitably, you know the waves are going to keep coming in varying strengths, and a lot of them are going to make you feel like you’re drowning. Am I ever going to find land? Should I expect that? Or should I just keep bracing myself? I don’t know anymore.

I can’t choose what kind of day I’m going to have. But I can choose how I respond to the day. Days make up life, but bad days don’t have to define my whole life, even if seems like good days are scarce. I’m young. Sure, most of my life thus far has seemed just hard, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been good, and it doesn’t mean the rest of life is going to be at this level of storm. Ocean storms are terrifying, but when the ocean is calm…there’s nothing more beautiful.

Biting Down On Anxiety


I suddenly had a mild spell of anxiety tonight. My “big thing” this week is something out of the ordinary, so my anxiety is automatically raised to a higher level.

I have a dentist’s appointment.

I have never liked the dentist. Who does? I had braces for about ten months when I was in middle school, and one time one of the assistants made a mistake and ended up slicing up into my gum with a sharp tool. Ow. Another time the Novocaine made me feel super sick and I ended up throwing up into a plastic bag on the drive home. If I even thought about the taste of the cleaning paste, my stomach would turn. My most recent toothy adventure was probably my wisdom tooth surgery, which in itself was fine, since I was passed out. I did however have some continuing pain and kept bleeding, so I went back in to get it checked out. The dentist, who I was not familiar with, poked and prodded around, and ended up jamming an instrument directly into my socket, causing me to literally gasp with pain. When my mouth was freed, I asked what the deal was, and he chirped, “Oh, you have dry socket.” Thanks for the head’s up.

So the dentist isn’t something I look forward to. I’m always paranoid that something is horribly wrong with my teeth, and since I’ve recently been discovering all these things I’m allergic to (artificial sweeteners, sodium nitrates in processed meats), my gums have been suffering the consequences, since apparently the manifestation of any allergy is horrendous gum itching. I have had one cavity in my life. I’ve got to be due for another one soon, and it has been like two years since my last cleaning.

I’m anxious about driving there, even though it’s extremely easy. I’m worried that there will be ice on the road and since our car is not made for Minnesota winter, I’m worried it will skid off into oblivion the second I tap the brake (that has happened, though I obviously came back from oblivion). I’m anxious about finding a parking spot, even though the lot is quite large and there probably won’t be that many cars there at 10am on a Wednesday. I’m anxious about the paperwork. Did it go through? Do they accept our insurance, since I technically gave them the wrong one when I made the appointment? How much will it end up costing? What if there isn’t enough money on the card? I even get anxious about leaving the appointment. I don’t feel relieved until I am in the apartment. There is the time I got nervous driving and made it successfully to the bus stop where I dropped off two friends, I was relieved then, and moments later, got into the car accident that shattered my nerves for months to come. That experience taught me to never relax, even after the anxiety-producing situation is over and home is on the horizon.

Writing down my anxiety is supposed to help. It puts things unto paper and I’m supposed to be able to see how each negative thought is not based in reality and it then loses its power. We’ll see. I’ve still got some days to struggle with this beast.