The Dark Cloud

dark-1536122

I realized last night that I’ve been living in this again.  I had a hypomanic episode, a few months ago, then it fell into depression.  At that time, we decided to put the kids in school.  I started to feel better.  For a while.

Lately, I’ve really been struggling.  I sleep most of the day.  I have no desire for things that I enjoy.  I make plans, only to cancel them because I want to sleep.  I have zero motivation.  For someone that enjoys a clean house, I have had no desire to keep up with it.  This lack of desire for things that I enjoy, no motivation, and sleeping all the time was starting to spiral into some hopelessness, which I want to stay away from.  Far, far away.  I’ve been there, done that, and ended up in the hospital.  Twice.

I decided today (after sleeping 3 1/2 hours this morning after a full night’s sleep) that it was time for me to talk with my doctor.  Unfortunately, she’s 6 1/2 hours away, in the Dallas area.  I have continued using this doctor for one major reason: she gives me samples of a really expensive medication.  Fortunately, they do phone appointments!  So, I’m hoping that a simple med change will help me.  We’ll see.  I also see my counselor tomorrow, and just simply going into town will help me, I’m sure.

I think the hardest part of all this for me is realizing and remembering that I am a person that lives with a chronic mental illness, and this is part of life for me.  For the rest of my life.  It’s so hard to know that it will never go away.  I won’t be healed from it.  It’s a chemical imbalance that cannot change.  It can be managed for a time, but the med adjustments and counseling and seeing a psychiatrist are my life.

In addition to just having an illness, this time of year is hard for our family.  Joey died in November, and the fall will always have a darkness to it.  Which is hard because I have always loved fall.  But it’s been tainted by the gruesome suicide of my only brother.  Those memories will never leave me.

I wish I could end on a happy note, but there’s just not much happiness in there right now.  I’m learning that it’s okay.  I will be okay.  But I will also be real.  That’s who I am.

Transparency… and Self Care

IMG_0427

I have gone back and forth about whether or not to write this post.  It has been on my heart the past few days, and I have had a hard time ignoring it.  This is probably one of the hardest posts I’ve written because it is entirely too transparent for my comfort.  But, I feel that there are other people who struggle that would benefit from my transparency.  So, if I can just help one person, it is worth it.

Through the past few months of ups and downs, I have spent some time evaluating changes that I can make in my life to take better care of myself.  Self care has not been a priority, even though I truly thought I was taking care of myself. Turns out, I haven’t been doing a great job in this area, and I knew I needed to make some changes so I didn’t end up back in the hospital.

One of the areas is alcohol.  Despite the fact that I’m not supposed to drink while on my medications, I didn’t let that stop me.  And I could tell that my medication hasn’t been working completely the way it should be.  It’s supposed to help about 70-80% of the time, and I’ve been struggling a lot the past few months.  To be honest, I didn’t use alcohol responsibly anyway.  It became a way to cope with my anxiety and depression, which just makes me spiral down fast. So, I have made the decision to stop drinking all together.  Not even one.  It has been a little over a week, and I can tell a HUGE difference in my moods.  I feel more stable!  I can see why they say not to drink while on them!  I am so incredibly thankful that I live here.  I reached out to some ladies here and they have been so supportive, encouraging, and my prayer warriors.  I’m thankful for women who love me right where I am.

Another area is how I view my body, and how I eat.  I decided one day that it is a choice to love my body just the way it is.  My husband thinks I’m amazing just the way I am, and he doesn’t want me to change.  I am who I am, and I desire to just be content and satisfied with that.  In that, I have decided to be more balanced with food, and for the first time in my life, I actually feel that I have achieved this.  I eat well but allow myself foods that I enjoy.  I don’t think about weight loss 24/7 anymore, which is so freeing!  There is so much more to life than losing weight!  I have gotten lost in the weight lost world for far too long, and it has been like chains for me.  It consumed my life and my thoughts.

I am still hiking and often long distances.  I hike for my mental and emotional well being (spiritual as well since I pray the whole time).  Yesterday I hiked almost 9 miles, and over 20,000 steps.  It is so motivating to see what my body can do.  I plan to do a long hike 3 days a week.  I took today off, but will be back at it tomorrow!  I absolutely love hiking.

I finally decided the other day that it was time to get back into counseling.  I am pretty sure that I will never be able to stop counseling all together.  My illness will always be with me, and I’ll have ups and downs.  I had an intake appointment with a new counselor last week, and I will be seeing her weekly for a while.  She is retired from the local mental hospital and is now working for a Christian counseling group.  She seems to have a lot of knowledge and understanding of mental illness and just life in general.  Even her daughter takes the same mood stabilizer that I take.  She doesn’t just know about it from working with mentally ill people, her own child struggles with this tough disorder.  I am hopeful that she will be a great part of the self-care puzzle.

Most importantly, I have decided to spend more time with my Savior.  He and I meet every morning right after the kids have left.  I am studying Galatians through the She Reads Truth devotional.  It is perfect for this time in my life.  I’ve studied it many times before, but God is teaching me new things through it.  I pray more and am growing into a more intimate relationship with Jesus.  He is who helps me through each day.  Without Him, I am nothing.

Through all of these changes, I have seen a shift in all of my relationships.  Especially with Robert and my kids.  Because I’m taking better care of myself, I can better care for my family.  I enjoy spending time with my husband every night after the kids go to bed.  We communicate better.  We are more affectionate.  I’m less irritable with my kids.  I am more patient and can handle them just being kids.  I spend a lot of time with them doing homework and cuddling.  I find myself missing them through the day, which is a blessing.  My heart overflows when I think about my amazing family.  I’m so thankful that God has blessed me with them.

I listen to this song multiple times a day.  The words speak right to my heart, and I feel that I am living it right now.

Learning About Myself

Through difficult times, I find that I learn so much about myself.

As I wrote in my last post, I recently went through some hypomania and a bipolar low.  I am feeling better now; though, I’m not 100%.  I talked with my doctor and she re-assured me that this will happen despite the medication.  She told me that I’m doing a great job working through it and some situational stress was partly to blame.  I’m so thankful that the episodes are so much better than they used to be.  A year ago and I would have been back in the hospital.  I have come a long way, and I credit the right medication and lots of counseling.  And God has been the one to be with me through it all.  Though, I haven’t been relying as much on Him as I would like to.  One day at a time.  I’m human.

Like I said, I learn more about myself through difficult times than through the easy times.

The last time I tried to work, I realized that I cannot work full time.  I have worked different types of jobs.  Retail.  Pharmacy.  Teaching.  And all of them ended with me quitting because of my mental illness.  The majority of those times I did not know it was because of my mental illness, but over time, I have realized that that is what it is.  I cannot handle the pressures and hours of a full time job.  My family needs me, and that’s all that I can handle.

Homeschooling.  Whew.  I have tried this multiple times, too.  Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out well for myself or my kids.  I’m at the point in which I’m so excited about them being educated by someone who doesn’t have a mental illness (at least, I’m assuming?!).  They will do SO well at their new school.  They are beyond excited.  They know.  They know what is best, and they aren’t even fighting it.  They know.  And they start tomorrow.  Late.  Of course.  But I’m just so glad that they’re going to school, and I don’t have to worry about screwing them up.  I’m learning my limits.  Slowly, but surely. And I will be spending most days just trying to take care of myself so that I can take care of my family.  No shame.  It is what it is.  Tomorrow.  Mommy will be a new person, soon.  Whew.

Diets.  I have tried this many, many times.  It always ends up badly.  I always end up feeling terribly about myself.  Weighing myself multiple times a day.  Feeling like I can’t measure up.  Feeling like nothing I do is good enough.  Feeling like I am just a mess.  Yes, during these times, I’m usually working out a ton, which is good for me.  But.  It’s not good for my mental health.  And, I’m usually eating really well.  Which is good for me.  But, anything but balance isn’t good for my mental health.  It takes a lot to keep me moving, and a diet and exercising every day to lose weight is not healthy for me.  Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  I will be hiking a lot now that my kids are in school, but it will be ONLY for my mental and emotional health.  I don’t care if I’m skinny anymore.  I am who I am.  My husband thinks I’m beautiful and sexy just they way I am.  In fact, probably more so than when I was thinner.  And I’m good with that.  His opinion is all that matters.  I have no one to measure up to.  We’re all different for a reason!

God has a reason and a purpose for everything that He allows.  I am growing into the person that He wants me to be.  And I’m trusting Him.