Twenty Twenty (2020)

It feels good to be sitting down and writing a blog post again. I’ve missed it. I took a break to really enjoy Christmas and not be so busy. I was apart of a really good bible study and we dove into learning about Mary and her perspective leading up to Jesus’s birth. It made me step back and really focus on what was important and what Christmas was all about.

I know this Christmas was probably very different for you also. We just stayed at home but got to enjoy a family zoom with my Dad’s side of the family.

I know 2020 was a year and while I don’t want to go through another pandemic, I took a lot away from this year. Since being sick, I’ve been focusing on changing perspectives a lot. While this year was tough no doubt, I also looked at it as a big learning year and healing.

I first want to say if you or a family member have suffered through COVID my thoughts and prayers are with you and if you lost someone I’m deeply sorry.

In 2020 my word for the year was regrow. The definition I went with was; to continue growth after interruption or injury. If you remember, in the fall of 2019, I was struggling with severe depression and suicidal thinking. So going into 2020 I wanted to focus on growing again. I would say I really did a lot of growing.

I did a lot of hard work in 2020. We did intense therapy sessions and much counseling. I wasn’t allowed to be left at home alone yet, so I would have people stay at the house on Thursday’s and Friday’s while my mom and sister were working. Then the pandemic hit. I was getting better mentally and was putting in a lot of work. We went completely virtual for the rest of the year so that meant that my Mom and sister were home with me everyday.

Having them home everyday with me and also getting into really intense therapy sessions completely transformed me. I’ve mentally never felt this good. It’s weird to say trust me because it’s hard to say I’m happy sometimes because happy feels different since Dad died. One of the things we worked on in counseling was doing the rapid eye movement and we did it on zoom! It worked great! She said I was really sensitive to that therapy in a good way! I know that’s how I got better. It was hard and I had rough weeks because then after talking about something so traumatic you go back to that place but I had to do that to heal. We got to the root of my problems and fixed my core beliefs through this eye movement therapy.

We worked on me fully accepting that I could have done nothing to prevent Dad from dying that day. We got rid of the guilt I held on to for all these years. We realized I was holding on to things I didn’t even know that I was and as we went through it we processed it and talked through it and worked through it. We worked on accepting Dad’s death and realizing how I wanted to respond to that and how Dad would want me to live. One of the hardest things I had to do was see that there were good things that came from his death. I know it sounds harsh maybe but let me explain.

I can connect with kids at school and other friends who have also lost a parent or have had to deal with the trauma and PTSD from finding a loved one who has already passed. After Dad died I became really intuitive to people’s feelings. I can almost see when someone is close to breaking down or anything along that nature and I can step in and help them process it before it comes out in an unexpected way and I can be right there for them. I’ve understood just how short our time is on this earth and this is literally our temporary home. I’ve focused on my purpose on this earth which is to do kingdom work for God. I don’t get upset easily and I hate conflict because I know how precious this life is and I never want to have “bad blood” or anything with anyone. I choose to see the joy and kindness in everyday.

Obviously I would take my Dad back in a heartbeat over having to experience those. It’s called radical acceptance. I’ve accepted that I can be happy and do things that make me happy but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss my Dad or I’m not honoring him. Grief isn’t a one size fits all and we are all on our own journey.

So after I did a lot of healing and accepting on everything with Dad we moved on to the next phase -trying to tackle the root problem of my depression and suicidal thinking. The first memory came when I was in 4th grade and I got an F on my science test. So we had to go back to that memory and really sit in it for me to heal. We worked hard on putting the thought that I wasn’t smart out of my brain through eye movements and tapping on my arms and many other things. This belief was with me all through 3rd grade until about a few months ago. I would say it really stopped in May 2020.

This false core belief had been a voice in the back of my head (which I call Satan) telling me lies about myself and making me believe them. I no longer believe those lies. They are exactly that – lies. I’m still smart even if I didn’t go to college. I have my own talents.

I had all this extra time at home during the pandemic to really focus on healing mentally. I did a lot of devotions and lot of praying and bible studies also.

I’ve never loved myself more than I do right now and somedays are hard but for the most part I don’t even listen to those lies or worry about what other people are thinking. I found my true purpose on this earth and my heart has a burning passion for it everyday.

My purpose is to live for God everyday and be a disciple, to put it really simple and easy. I don’t have to have my life planned out from a to z because I’m literally here right now because of God. He picked each of us for a special reason with a specific job to help make Kingdom impact and make heaven crowded.

My mindset has completely shifted and I’ve had so much mental clarity. I also got back on Adderall in December which has helped a lot.

I’ve had quite a few changes to my health. I don’t really have any new diagnoses. I got a few more doctors/ nurses that I really like. I’ve challenged myself and stood up for myself and have truly became an advocate for not only myself but to help change the way doctors treat those with chronic illnesses.

I still have a lot of stomach pain but some of that has gone down because we found out I have a latex allergy and not only that – but there are foods that have a cross-reaction with latex so I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of foods and am on a pretty strict “diet”.

I have a new allergy/immunologist doctor who has been very helpful. I also have a new local rheumatologist who I love! Long story short, I decided to really advocate for myself again after all the local rheumatologists wouldn’t accept me. I went back to the one who took over the office of my first rheumatologist after he retired. Fast forward, she looked over my case and accepted me! I’ve had 2 appointments with her and am very impressed. She is helping me a lot. She has me on a new med and is really concerned about me especially during the pandemic.

I had a good appointment at Cleveland Clinic in September and she also acknowledged there is something more going on so I got a work up for Sjogrens, Lupus, and Rheumatoid Arthritis again. They came back the same low positive so no diagnosis. In May I will hit 5 years since this all started and on average it take can 5-8 years for an auto-immune disease to get diagnosed.

My photosensitivity rash got really bad in December and the dermatologist was booked so I made an appointment with his nurse practitioner and it went so well. He said I definitely had photosensitivity and right away wondered if I had been checked for Lupus. He decided to do a test that he said I’m pretty sure you don’t have this type of photosensitivity but I want to check if that’s ok so I can cross it off the list or you’ll be diagnosed with it. I don’t have it so we can cross it off. It was some really fancy name that I don’t remember. He also confirmed that my medicine isn’t what is causing this photosensitivity rash. I have to wear 50 spf on my face everyday now and it has to be mineral with zinc in it so it truly blocks any light.

I think that’s about it for health. I had a lot of flare-ups this year but due to all the time at home I was also doing a bit better physically then and don’t have to rely on the walker as much but now that I’m back in the swing of things and the weather is changing I’m starting to get worn again.

So far I’ve started off 2021 with a pretty bad ear infection that spread into my lymph nodes and was starting to settle in my teeth/gum-line. My face was all swollen as was my neck. I had a tele health appointment with my doctor and he put me on some really heavy duty antibiotics. I missed 3 days of work and slept pretty much all day and all night for about 5 days. It started Sunday night but got really bad Monday morning. So today (Friday) I’m doing much better and I broke my fever this afternoon! The pain and swelling have been reduced significantly. I’m in a pretty bad flare-up now since I had an infection but I still feel better than I did a few days ago.

Just like 2021 has had a rough start with everything that happened at the Capitol on January 6. I want to address it and say it was wrong. Violence is never the solution to anything. It also was hard to see the stark difference between how this was handled/treated vs the Black Lives Matter marches/ peaceful protests in the spring.

In 2020 I learned a lot of things. I learned and am still learning so many things. I’m learning how to advocate for myself and advocating for others with health issues. I’ve learned that being silent about certain things is no longer ok for me. If I see something that is wrong I will speak up and stand up. I’m learning how bad the systemic racism is here in the United States and I’m continuing to listen. There have been uncomfortable times and conversations for me but sometimes that is needed to go forward and make changes. I’ve learned a lot about the government and am still learning. I’ve learned how divisive politics can be which is truly sad. I’ve also learned there are really great people still out there working hard.

I have hope for 2021. I’m hopeful with the vaccine here that we will soon end this pandemic. I’m hopeful that we start to end racism. I’m hopeful we can be kind to one another. I’m hopeful this time at home has caused healing for you too.

I’m hopeful.

Here is what I shared on Instagram to wrap up my final thoughts on 2020:

Dear 2020,⁣

You weren’t what I thought you would be. I never thought I would live through a pandemic. ⁣

Today I’m thankful for life and the lessons I’ve learned in 2020. ⁣

You taught me to look at my life: past, present, and future. ⁣

You taught me to love myself and never give up on myself. ⁣

You taught me to not be silent and stand up for what I believe in. ⁣

You taught me how broken our world is and how much healing we need. ⁣

You taught me so much about systemic racism and how to speak up. ⁣

I am an anti-racist. ⁣

You led me to an amazing group of women known as the Go Make Disciples community . A bible study that impacted my life so much. ⁣

You taught me to see how faithful God is. ⁣

You led me to a new rheumatologist who is local and we love her! ⁣

You were a year that tested me and stretched me in so many ways. ⁣

There is so much more I could say but for now that’s what’s on my heart. ⁣

I wish we didn’t have to go through a pandemic and that so many lives have been lost. ⁣

Heading into 2021 I have hope. The vaccine is here and I have hope. ⁣

So 2020 you were hard no doubt and while I don’t wish to repeat a pandemic by any means I thank you for the quiet time and reflection I needed and all the healing I got this year. ⁣

So thank you 2020 for teaching me valuable lessons. “

“Well done, good and faithful servant.” – Matthew 25:21


Abby Hershberger

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