Aziza's Story: NYU Student rallies support for Syrian, Afghan & Iraq Refugees

Photo: Aziza and Shams, a Syrian refugee. at a medical clinic inside of a tent at the Moria Refugee camp where Shams' younger sibling was being treated.

Photo: Aziza and Shams, a Syrian refugee. at a medical clinic inside of a tent at the Moria Refugee camp where Shams' younger sibling was being treated.

by: Aziza (New York City)

As the daughter of Afghan war refugees, I felt compelled to help in some capacity after seeing some of the images and stories surrounding the refugee crisis in Greece. My sister and I had come to learn that once refugees were in Greece, a lot of the operational work (in terms of clothing, food etc) was being executed by volunteers who had just picked up and booked a ticket to the island. They were people just like us who had felt sympathetic to the struggles of seeking a better life. So, we decided to do the same. We went to Lesvos, Greece – an island that has received more than half a million refugees since January of 2015.

We visited various refugee camps scattered all throughout the island, learned about and met with organizations that were contributing to making the refugees time on the island smoother and providing them with the basic necessities they needed before they begun the real efforts to build their new lives, and thought about efficient and impactful ways to contribute to these efforts through a Crowdrise fund we had set up raising money from people in our community in the New York City area.



NYC - Dariel's Story of how Poetry helps him fight Police Brutality & Injustice

by J. Caleb Perkins - NEW YORK 

Sometimes I just want people to see things through my eyes. The people I encounter everyday, the many faces, the hurting, the broken.

In a city of over 8 million people, you're bound to see a lot. You see the adventurous. The lonely. The free. The enslaved. And sometime you see purpose within pain. 

As I was leaving a meeting in Brooklyn one day, I casually took the train home, just like any other regular day. It was a normal Tuesday. I took my seat on the train and began to read and think about my day. About 5 minutes later, I heard the commanding voice of what sounded like a young guy. This voice definitely had the attention of the train car, and everyone was listening-- including me. 

That day I met Dariel.

Dariel was giving a powerful poetic demonstration of the lives that had been taken by police violence and injustice in America including Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Sandra Bland. These stories have struck me in my own life as well. One in particular, Kalief Browder, inspired me to start Remedy Network in New York City in 2015. However, the most captivating and compelling aspect of Dariel's strong presence was not just his message; it was the means by which he delivered it. 

I met up with Dariel and congratulated him on his non-violent method to dealing with the adversity that he has faced in life regarding the turmoil and concern that police brutality and injustice has sparked within him. 

Whatever problem that we are facing in life, I believe there are solutions to our pain. There are practical ways in which we can raise awareness about the issues that we are facing in life. That is what Remedy Network is all about: encouraging people to share their story of how they've overcome and pointing others to solutions. I encouraged Dariel to share his story on Remedy Network to inspire other millennials on how to overcome their obstacles.

True life change requires a "method to move". In this case, Dariel used poetry to spark awareness in his city. There is power in sharing stories. But the real power comes in the methods on HOW we walk out true freedom. What vehicle are you using in your life to transmit true change? 

Check out the video below, and make sure you share your story of how you've overcome here

- J. Caleb Perkins - (Founder, Remedy Network Inc.)

Chicken Pox: God taking the virus of sin and healing it

by Bethany - New York City

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Getting saved when you are 7 years old is both a blessing and a curse. It's something like having chicken pox. The earlier you are exposed, the fewer complications you experience in the future. Imagine chicken pox are like sinful culture. 

At the time I got saved, I was already in a church environment. I had a stable, loving home and amazing friends who had similar upbringings. I lived at church! I loved it all. To me, it gave me not only a sense of beauty in this world, but also a place to belong. That was until I hit puberty. 

When the hormones overtook me, so did the obsessive compulsive disorder. Suddenly, my stable environment was not so stable. Everyone had always liked me. I had never been so ignored. Because I felt isolated, I became awkward. As I began to seek the approval of those around me, I had less and less faith in myself. I became stranger as the years wore on: writing novels in class, animating when I was supposed to be concentrating. I was moving further and further into my own imagination and away from those around me. 

I have a lot of respect for my church at home. To this day, they continue to do wonderful things for humanity and my parents. As wonderful as it was, I won't say it was without its issues. Living in a small town, you are in constant contact with the same people. The same people you go to church with will also be those at your school. You can't escape running into people at the supermarket who you know from church or work or the other supermarket down the street. It isn't easy to disconnect. The same people who ignored me at school became the same people I would see Sunday at church. I was never physically mistreated. I was made fun of, but never too severely. I just got used to being ignored. The only attention I could warrant was largely negative. The second I expressed myself in church was the second everyone would call a committee over to speak with my parents. They thought I was troubled for being an artist and noticing things that no one else did. Regardless, I never felt like I belonged. 

Though I deeply considered it, I never gave up the title "Christian." But I became rebellious and defiant of the church in general. The "church people" (as I began to call them) were irritating to me. I didn't see how they could be so optimistic all the time. It seemed so fake to me. How could the same person say that our God is inclusive, but only accept certain types of people to socialize with?

The older I grew, the more I began to cling to the world. I moved to New York for school and fell in love with the culture. Everyone here loved me! It was as if I were finally where I was meant to be. Never having felt such a strong sense of belonging, I began to turn to my friends who did not know Christ for all the advice I could get my hands on. It seemed to make sense. Maybe I was just more like Solomon, I thought. Maybe I was just a very worldly person. No one was ever going to change that. 

As the years wore on, I began to subscribe to the philosophy that as long as it wasn't hurting anyone, why should I not participate in it. I began to abuse alcohol, have casual sexual encounters and worship at the feet of my own body. I climbed so high in the social ranks, I began to think I had finally "made it." I was my desired body weight, I had a great group of friends who I partied with constantly, my plays were becoming popular, I was acting, and most importantly, I had a great boyfriend. I did not want for anything, but I still had an unshakable emptiness in the fear of losing it all. 
(Mostly the boyfriend.)

Two years later, I am a sobbing wreck after having broken up with the love of my life. In the past, the way I dealt with heartache and pain was by re-invention. I would always pick myself up, have casual sex, drink a lot and explore myself. All my friends cheered me on as they saw my pathetic attempts to self-improve. I tried to move on in any way imaginable. This time it was different. I missed the person. It was as if he had died. 

"You look great!" they would insist, "There are too many men in this world for you to get all worked up over this one guy." 

I remember this making me furious for several reasons. It was my first real glimpse into what love means to our generation. I began to understand why divorce was such a constant pattern in our society. After all, if your partner no longer makes you happy, why stay through the complications? I fell victim to the advice of the lost; those just as lost as myself. 

Almost as an afterthought, I decided to revisit church. It was my last possible option. Believe me, I resented it, but I could find no relief elsewhere. People would try to welcome me at the door, I would set them up as cheesy and over-enthusiastic. People would sing and move around during worship, I would sit still. I was there for one reason and one alone: to get help from God. This continued for several weeks. I gave the sermons attention as they were practical, but even when I felt something, I would try to minimize it. I had always enjoyed listening to Carl Lentz preach, but I didn't care for all the bright, fancy stuff of worship. That was until he preached a sermon I will probably never forget.

When we got on the subject of "Dig a Little Deeper," it was as if God had come and kicked me in the face with the inevitability of my salvation. Until that point, I had always thought that my relationship with God was about me. I used him as one of the many things that created my identity. All my friendships, relationships and interactions had been rooted in the world. Much like the abused Bible rolling around in the bottom of my bag amidst a sea of pens and tiny notebooks, I had thrown God into a convenient corner to use when I needed him. 

I began to pray and seek His guidance. I was still lazy and stubborn at first, but not as unenthusiastic. Gradually, I am beginning to have opportunities placed at my feet that I could never imagine. Instead of being a part of my identity, God is now my identity. While I can't say I have ever fully won the battle, I am hoping to win the war against the evil one. Slowly, the things of this world lose their luster. They become less and less amazing as I find my way to a true calling with the one who loves me. 

I send hope and love to my ex, my family, my friends and everyone I've ever wronged by not explaining to them how beautiful God's grace really is. I'm still figuring this thing out. But I am hopeful that if I persevere, I can relax and ease into God's plan for me to further his kingdom. 

While I still have scars, I am thankful for the chicken pox of my life. Though the exposure was late, I know I will be a stronger Christian. I am by no means asking you to sin, but I am asking you not to regret your past. We have such a wonderful God that he can take the old, dead viruses of our sins and use them as a vaccine to make us stronger.

The Prison Calendar That Revealed God

   Celebrate Recovery - Spirit Life Church

   Celebrate Recovery - Spirit Life Church

The Prison Calendar that Revealed God:

Happy Tuesday everyone! Thanks for taking the time to read my second blog post on The Remedy Network.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of speaking at a Celebrate Recovery meeting at Spirit Life Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Celebrate Recovery is a biblical program that helps people overcome their hurts, hang-ups, and habits. 20 years ago, Saddleback Church launched Celebrate Recovery with 43 people, and is now in over 20,000 churches. It’s a program designed to help those struggling by showing them the loving power of Jesus Christ through a balanced recovery process.

Last week, I attended testimony night, where a member from CR speaks about their journey through the program and how God has moved in their life. On this particular night, Gary was speaking about his struggle with drugs, alcohol abuse and his journey with methamphetamine. He allowed me to share his story with The Remedy Network.

Gary was admitted into the Jackie Brannon Correction Center in McAlester Oklahoma in 2011, which changed his life forever. Gary told the crowd that even though he was in prison, he met with God every chance that he could. Here is a picture of the Prison Calendar that showed chapel services inmates could attend:

Religiously, Gary always attended the 6pm service at Jackie Brannon, hungry for the word of God. With tears in his eyes, Gary proved that God could still work miracles in life even when it seems like you are at wit’s end. Gary testified that it was there in prison where God changed his life forever and showed him his great love and redemptive work.

I am so grateful for Gary’s story. No matter where we are in life, God is still beckoning us back to into his arms. There is nothing that we can do that can separate us from the love of God.

Whether you have a great relationship with God the father, or whether you feel miles away from him locked away in a prison cell, know that this is true: God loves you more than you can image. You are not at the end of the road. Even if you’ve exhausted all your strength, or have turned away from God, there is still hope.

Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.”

Wherever you are in your journey, this is not the end of your story.

-J. Caleb Perkins

Make sure you share YOUR story on The Remedy Network. Click here to anonymously share your story today.  

Faith Wisdom: Born of Faith

I hope by sharing this story with others that it will help people know that they are never alone in what they are going through. For a long time I thought to myself “Am I the only one out here going through this”.  But really there are a lot of other people going through the same thing.  God has blessed me in a lot of ways.  He has watched over me from the time I was born till now.  So with this I will start my story out from the time before I was born.

    My mother was older when she became pregnant with me.  She had a heart condition that the doctors said she should not even think about having another child.  My mother told them that she was going to have me and that if something happened to her while giving birth to me then that is the way it was supposed to be.  She said that God would walk with her through this.  When the day came that she gave birth to me.  She was in labor for 36 hours.  She died giving birth to me, but the doctors were able to bring her back to life.  When the nurse asked her what she was going to name me she said “Her name is Faith”.  The nurse looked at her and asked how she picked that name.  She told the nurse the story about how the doctor said that she should not have me, and how she told them that she would put her faith in God to see this through.  So that is how I was named “Faith”.  Even with her dying giving birth to me she knew that God would walk her through it, and he did.

   I had my mother for only a short time after that.  She died when I was eight years old.  She had a massive heart attack at the age of 44.  She lived a hard life.  But I know that she loved me more than life itself.  She risked her’s to give me life.  I miss her every day.  Not having her with me during the most important times in my life.  Not having her there to see me go through school, get married, see the birth of her grandchildren.  But I know that she is watching over me and I am doing my best to make her proud.

   After my mother passed away in January my father remarried in May.  I was what you would call the true life Cinderella.  I had a new stepmother and two step sisters that did not like me.  My father married the woman that my mother did not like. I went from being the only child at home that had her own bedroom and playroom.  To the child that had to share a room and giving up my playroom to the other stepsister.  My father expected me to accept my new family. It was not easy to do since my mother had only been gone 3 ½ months and the fact I reminded her of my mother.  So During the summers after my father remarried I was sent to my grandparents in Missouri for the summer.  My step mom did not want me around.  That was the best thing that could have ever happened.  I learned a lot from my grandparents.  My grandmother made sure I knew the values of life, she taught me to sew, quilt and cook.  She was a big part of my growing up and the person I turned out to be. The memories of living on the farm during the summer are some of my most memorable times of my life.  I remember getting up at daybreak and getting the cattle in to be milked.  We lived on a dairy farm.  Those were the morning that I remember it being quiet and all you heard was the sounds of nature and the animals.  It was peaceful.  I learned a lot about hard work can get you a long ways in life.

   After I moved away from home I joined the United States Army during the Gulf War.  I did get to stay in the service long due to a leg injury.  But I did learn a lot.  During the time I was in I became our platoon’s chaplain.  That was a blessing for me.  I was able to help other people and be able to stay walking in my faith. 

When I was sent home from the Army with an Honorable discharge I came to live with my cousin that introduced me to my husband that I was married to for 15 years. So then my last name went to “Wisdom” Faith Wisdom. I know it is crazy how I ended up with the name.  We had three wonderful boys.  I could not have asked God for three better boys.  My husband and I divorced and it was not a pretty one.  But I have managed to be a single mother raising three boys that I am very proud to say that have not been in any trouble make good grades.  I stay active with them.  I know being a single mother can have it challenges, but it does have it rewards.  So for all the single moms out there always remember to rely on God and he will give you the strength.  I know that when times get hard and you think that you cannot go any further know that you are not alone. There are other moms out there that are going through the same thing you are.  Find strength in God and your friends and family.  Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.  I know that I always wanted to be the super mom, but every now and then even Super moms get to the breaking point. 

   During my life I have went through a lot and I am going to post each week something that I had to deal with in my life and I hope that it well help someone that is out there.  Some of the topics well be from when I was younger, losing a parent at a young age, having a step parent, the times I lived on the farm with my grandparents, to marriage and divorce, being a single mom of three.  The hard times that I have been through with alcoholic family members that were close to me.  Also  to the most recent, having to move due to a house fire.  How I struggled with my own faith at times.  There are a lot of other topics I will talk about.  I hope that through this I can help someone know that they are not alone and that God will see you through. “When you do not think he is there, is when he is carrying you”.

Freedom from pornography. David's story.

Hi my name is David and I'm from New Jersey. I am also a student at ORU (Oral Roberts University).

I received one of your note cards for The Remedy on tuesday night at 3D. I wanted to share one thing that I struggled with that God delivered me from. I struggled with pornography. I had a severe problem with it between 2008 and 2010. I decided in 2009 to make a decision to get closer to God. I listened to ministers of the Gospel messages over and over. I went through the New Testament several times. I kept on persevering even though I kept falling. During this time I was filled with the Holy Ghost and that really helped. I would be encouraged in my spirit from God and had unwavering hope that I could come out of this in spite how long I had struggled with it. In 2010 I felt led to watch the 700 club and that is when I received my deliverance. The desires had left me. From march 2010 through june 2012 I was completely sober from it. In mid 2012 I got away from God in a
big way. Things just seemed to hit me one after another. I felt like God let me down. So I turned away from Him. In that process I start drinking, got into an unhealthy relationship and opened that door to pornography again. I had no intention on serving God again and thought I was on my way to hell, but God turned me around. I was at the point of suicide preparing to jump out a window and I said God I'll give you another chance. The process to returning to God was a struggle, but with the help of my pastor, The Word of God, The still small encouraging voice of the Holy Spirit I pressed my way back to being on the path God has for me. The thought of going back comes to me here and there,but I have made a fresh decision not to go back. So I am still a work in progress, but my outcome is victory! About a month ago I felt led by God to start youtube videos in October called Men Empowering Men. Where I and or other people share our testimony, give brief
encouraging word, and minister through music. So to have this come across my path I felt was no accident. Thanks for handing this Remedy Notecard to me. The more I share my past with people the more free I become. I pray that this ministry touches and changes a lot of lives! God Bless!

Jason's story. Freedom from depression and video games

For nearly my entire life I had an addiction to Video Games. I remember as a kid, while everyone wanted to play outside, I wanted to be inside playing games. It got in the way of school work, it got in the way of relationships with friends who didn't want to do what I was doing and it got in the way of truly living life during my childhood years and forming lasting memories like most people do. 
      But 2012 came along and changed my life. My relationship with my girlfriend, who I had been with for nearly six years at the time, had come to an end at the end of 2012. The following year I started to battle severe depression. Unhappy with so many aspects of my life, I began to lose hope and wonder if things would ever get any better. While all this was going on I continued to play video games with nearly all of my free time. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was the fact that I was spending all of my time playing video games instead of making meaningful improvements in my life was one of the biggest contributing factors to my depression. My depression had reached such a severe state that I started to entertain thoughts of suicide.
      I had been a Christian pretty much my entire life. While not always living in such a way that reflected my faith in God, I always believed in him, I always knew he was there. It was in those darkest moments of my depression that I called out to him and prayed that he would deliver me out of this mess and give me a hope. He did.
      One Sunday morning, I was laying in bed, playing video games of course and just really not wanting to go to church that morning. I was tempted to do everything BUT go to church. But my mother called me and convinced me to go, so I did. On the way there, I realized that there was probably a reason why I was so tempted to do other sinful things and not go to church that morning. There was probably something I was needed to hear that morning and Satan didn't want me to hear it. 
      I arrived at church, attended praise and worship, heard the sermon but nothing was standing out to me. No sign from God that I supposed to be there at that exact moment until after the sermon when my pastor, Alex Himaya, asked the congregation "Is there anything that you have given up to God.... and then taken back." I didn't even have to think about it. In the past, I had given up my favorite pastime as a fast but once the fast was over i went straight back to where I was. I realized that I had made a God out of video games. I had worshipped on the altar of my addiction to them for too long. It had always promised me satisfaction and a relief from my worries but it had never delivered. It was at that I felt the spirit telling me to get rid of this addiction out of my life.
      This was especially difficult to obey because I had just recently purchased an XBox One. I could've sold it and made some money but God didn't tell me to sell it, he told me to get rid of it. Besides, with the money I had earned by selling it, I could've been well on my way to just buying a new game system.
      I had struggled with what to do and even bartered with God in an attempt to be able to keep my Xbox One and still honor God. I tried to just play it less, which worked for awhile. But eventually I found myself playing it just as often as I always had. It was in that moment that I knew I was an addict. I also knew what I had to do.
      A few days later and it was my 27th birthday, it was Sunday morning and I was sitting in church. I was reflecting on my addiction and how I had not yet been obedient to God by getting rid of my addiction. I heard God say to me, "This addiction has plagued you your whole life. Don't give this addiction one more day of your life." The very next day I donated my game system to the Saint Francis Children's Hospital. As I walked out of the Hospital a few pounds lighter than I went in, I felt like the burden that had held me down for so long was finally lifted. I felt like the idol that had kept me from a closer relationship with God was finally out of my way. I began to grow closer to The Lord.
        Fast forward to where I am now, life is good. My depression is gone, I have a more satisfying job where I help troubled teens recover from behavioral issues and learn to cope with mental disorders, I'm going back to school soon and, a truly rich blessing, I've begun a relationship with a beautiful, godly woman who I'm inspired by and encouraged by all the time and whom I love.
        God delivered me from my addiction and depression but oftentimes I find that we have to be obedient to where he is calling us and what he is calling us to do. Trust in God and believe that he loves you enough to deliver you from the pit you find yourself in.
      To others who struggle with this issue, I would encourage you to realize that, whether you find yourself addicted to substances like drugs or alcohol or something like video games, gambling or pornography, when something has a negative impact on your life, it either needs to be changed or it needs to be removed. Trust that the life free from these burdens and addictions is the life that is truly worth living and it's the life worth changing for.

Freedom: Jen's 11 year battle with meth and finding hope in healing

Well, I don’t know where to start, so here goes…

I grew up in a decent household with a mother, step father, and brother. My “own” dad was never around. When I was 13 years old, a car accident left me with $7,000 when I turned 18, so given that, lets move forward to the day after I turned 18.

I was too young to be unsupervised with all that money after 18 years of a mother who loved me so much she smothered and sheltered my every move. I moved to my own small house, in a different small town, by myself. With all this newfound freedom, I was very trusting of EVERYONE. I had never tried drugs or alcohol before. Two weeks to the day I moved out, I tried smoking meth. When you have bipolor disorder and you are manic, meth makes you feel “normal”. I LOVED it. I was hooked after the first night. Four weeks after moving out, I was injecting the meth. My life was slowly spinning out of control. I never had a chance because at first, meth was fun and new for me, and I was meeting all kinds of fun, new people, who didn’t make me pay for anything. So once I had this bad habit and bad addiction, I realized I couldn’t stop when I eventually had to start buying it, my life and behavior was completely out of control. (This is how they hook you---give it to you you for free until you feel like your going to die without it, then you better pay).

Now, part of being an “attractive drug addict,” is the fact you get your pick of the litter of dope manufacturers. I chose the highest “respected” meanest, hardest, criminals and latched on—men and women—because they always had my dope. The guy I chose in 2006 was a doozy. After 2 months of dating, we went to a meth house to trade drugs for guns. Bad mistake. As I had my back turned to weigh out the meth and marijuana, my boyfriend—after neither of us had slept in 9 straight days- got it in his head they were going to kill us- so he shot both the guys in the face. One guy was standing so close to me that his blood and brains splattered on my face. This guy died with a dope pipe in his mouth. The other girl in the room is alive today because of me. He wanted me to go back in and rape and kill her. (At this point, I had jumped over 2 dead bodies and ran out the door) I refused, went into survival mode, and said “BABY! WE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE!” I did everything I had to do to make him think I was on his side so I didn’t die next.

After he forced me to ditch my car, we took off walking. He needed another car, so he car jacked a 19 year old boy of his brand new Mustang, but not before pistol whipping and shooting him too. This is the 3rd body I saw drop that night. He had 2 bullets left. One for me and one for himself. Before he could kill us, he needed more meth to do it, so after he raped me with that gun to my head, he went to get more meth and was coming right back. After he was no longer in my view, I RAN. I made my way to my mama and told her what happened. She said I needed to call the police immediately—so I did. They were already looking for me anyway.

The police interrogated me and made me out to be a monster, until I explained what happened. After throwing down pictures of bodies and making me relive what happened, they finally decided if it weren’t for me, more people would have died. I had witnesses throughout the night to back up what I said. People I didn’t even know.

40 weeks to the day of the murders, was my due date. I put the cigarettes and needle down and sobered up long enough to be pregnant then went right back. This drug is so strong it’s all I wanted. So moving along with another baby and another failed relationship I finally got out of, I was ready for a new dope cook. This one I married after 3 weeks. We went to another state and eloped. I had never been married before. Well, we got pregnant and after baby #3, it was time for more dope.

Now, this time, I didn’t know he would have sex with my 6 year old, 4 year old, and 15 week old babies in the house. We lived across the street from a cop. We had a search warrant within hours. My husband ran and left me to fend for myself. I went to jail for 3 months. I lost my kids, car, house, husband, everything. They let me out of jail with probation and a mental health program, which I am still in. I came out of jail with nothing but the clothes on my back. This is when I decided I can’t do this anymore. I am FINALLY done.

Its been almost a year since I’ve used and it feels amazing. The detective, Rebecca, who kicked in my door, took my kids from me, and threw me in jail to rot, well, I hated her. Everything was HER fault to me.  I can’t live without her now. She is my probation officer who gives me weekly drug tests. I LOVE her. She is such a strong woman and is teaching me how to be one too. I can’t live without her, my therapist Lydia, or my group leader Ms. Pat. There is something Ms. Pat has said to me I’ll never forget. “Why are you crying over a man?! You are too beautiful for that! Don’t ever let any man make you cry!” Since that day, I have never cried over a man. I make them cry over me now! These strong, beautiful women helped me out of that hole, and now I want to be just like them.

Currently I have an amazing job and amazing people in my life. Without their support and encouragement, I wouldn’t have made it. If everything I went through will help [people get] off meth or prevent them from trying it all together, then it was worth it. I am a survivor and you are too. It CAN be done, and there is a light at the end, you just have to want it bad enough. 11 years I was hooked on that stuff and it destroyed my life and took everything from me. It takes your soul too. Do you really want to walk around with no soul? I don’t. Now that I’m on this side of the fence, I’ll NEVER go back. I’m looking into going back to school and I’m very close to getting kids back. It’s been a long journey. Every day can be a struggle but it gets easier with time. Hang in there.

Thanks for reading, hope this helps.