My Addictive Brain, Healthy Habits, and Making Changes for Good Health

I’ve written about this sooooo many times, and I have made a final decision (after talking with Robert who is a very balanced person and he agrees with me this time). I am doing something “black and white” (I’ve been … Continue reading

On this Thanksgiving…

I have pulled out my computer and sat there staring at the screen (or getting distracted by Facebook) so many times in the past month or so.  We have so much going on and I have so much that I could share, but the words just aren’t coming when I sit down to write.  I’m not sure why.  I do know that I have spent MUCH less time on my computer lately and that’s a good thing.  I used to sit on my computer all day, every day.  Now I don’t have time for that, nor do I want to.  Part of the reason why I don’t write as much (or sit at my computer as much) is that I used to drink and drink and drink and all I could do while doing that is sit.  Also I have been so busy.  Mostly in a good way!

The moment that I decided to put Karis back into school, my anxiety went away and my depression lifted.  We didn’t even take much time to pray through it once I thought of it because 1) I knew that Robert wanted our kids to be in school, 2) I realized that my mental health went back down hill when I pulled Karis out, 3) Karis went backwards in many ways being home and I knew it would be best to teach her how to persevere even when things are hard (and she needed to be around kids her age).

Since we’ve made that decision, lots of things have hit us… broken arm, asthma attack that landed Ethan in the ER, lots of doctor appointments, bloodwork, lots of medicine, Ethan got strep (and ended up missing 4 days of school), counseling appointment for Karis… And I have been in either Rocksprings or Kerrville pretty much every single day (with a day off here or there).  I have also tried to go to AA twice a week but it hasn’t happened as much as I would like (I definitely go once at least).

But do you know what hasn’t changed through all of this craziness?  My joy.  I may be tired.  I may be somewhat stressed.  Karis has cried a lot (as we’ve been walking her through things).  Levi has been in trouble a lot at school this year (and we’re working with his teacher and doctor to figure out how to handle this).  But I haven’t regretted anything.  I haven’t felt guilty.  I haven’t tried to make something happen that wasn’t supposed to happen (which is how I ended up homeschooling off and on so much over the years).  I haven’t made things to be my fault when they weren’t (like putting Karis in school or Levi getting in trouble).  I’m just truly living each day.  One day at a time.  To its fullest.  I’m more comfortable in my skin.  I have spent a lot of one-on-one time with my kids.  Karis and Ethan are doing choir.  The house stays mostly clean (except this week because the kids are home, and that’s okay!).  Robert and I work together.  I focus a LOT on self care because that is what keeps me going. Life is just good.  But I don’t take it for granted.  With my history and my mental illnesses (and being an alcoholic), I truly have to take it one second, one minute, one hour, and one day at a time.  And I’m finally in a place in which I can do that.

So on this beautiful Thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for.

It has been literally years since I felt this kind of peace and joy for more than a few days, and especially through stress and difficulty.

My family and friends are amazing, I’m learning to love myself as God has made me to be (and I’m realizing what my true calling is), Jesus loves me and I love Him, we love Camp Eagle and are so blessed to be a part of this family, we have all of our needs met (even when we don’t know how things will work out, they always do), I’m thankful for AA and what it has done in my life (and continues to), I’m so thankful for the Healthy Habits Happy Moms community (and Balance 365 program) that has helped me see myself in a completely different light, and I’m thankful for all the little things that bring me joy each day… music, flowers, coffee, Christmas lights, candles, a hike, spending time with my friends and family, playing games, cleaning, coloring, drawing… the list could go on and on.  I am who I am today because of who God is, my family and friends, and through the difficult of the past several years.

Finally Thriving, Not Just Surviving

The past 2 weeks have been long and stressful and amazing.  I was in town 10 times in those 2 weeks (either Kerrville or Rocksprings).  Karis broke her arm and we went to urgent care on Monday the 9th, Karis started school on the 10th, choir was on the 11th, we went to the orthopedic doctor on the 12th, the 14th we went to Wild Seed Farms and Robert and I had a date day (amazing day!!!!!), the 15th we went to the Alumni meeting at La Hacienda and I got my 1 year chip (and we picked up the kids), the 16th I went to AA (and Robert took Ethan to the ER that night for asthma), the 17th I went to town to get Ethan’s steroid med filled, the 18th was choir, the 19th Karis met with her partner for science fair at the library, and Friday Ethan and I went to the doc for a follow up and we got groceries.  The urgent care, ER, and doctors were not good (well, the docs and stuff were great but having to go wasn’t good), but the rest was!  And I’m really starting to feel better.  I’m having a few physical symptoms that I’m not sure about, but I’m still just taking it one day at a time.  I might go back to the doctor eventually.  It’s nothing extreme.  And tomorrow I will see my psychiatrist.  That’ll be good!  I don’t think I really need to make any changes.  I feel like things are going better and while I do have anxiety still, I don’t want to take more meds and I think it’s just something I have to live with.  I’ve learned a lot of coping skills and put those into place when I’m struggling.  Things are going well for the first time in a long time!

Tuesday we had “HAF (Home Away From) Homes.”  This is time with our gap year students (well, 3 of them).  We share with our neighbors who we love deeply.  It’s such a sweet time!

Friday was so fun.  I had an entire day with Ethan.  The appointment with the doctor went super well.  We got all of his asthma meds refilled and we’re going to focus on getting him completely stable in that area.  He got a flu shot.  Then we got donuts and got some blood work done to see what he’s allergic to.  We got groceries (I spent very little and am so proud of myself!) and we got Halloween costumes.  Then went to eat at a Chinese restaurant (Ethan’s choice).

This past weekend was so productive.

Saturday I cleaned the house nearly spotless.  It has been a long time coming!  I have just been having the kids clean it and obviously that means that things weren’t being cleaned super well. So I deep cleaned the bathrooms.  I cleaned the floors.  I cleaned and organized my bedroom (desperately needed to be done… I had piles everywhere).  I got caught up on laundry.  Washed some sheets (I need to finish that this week), and washed towels and bathroom mats.  The kids cleaned their rooms (not spotless, but good enough for now).  I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen.

After the kids cleaned, they enjoyed time with their friends and Levi enjoyed time reading fall and Halloween books that I pulled out :-).  At the end of the day we watched a movie as a family (Spiderwick Chronicles… so good!).

Sunday I did a bunch of food prep!  Mini whole wheat pumpkin banana muffins.  Homemade whole wheat bread (though it didn’t rise real well).  I made lunches for 4 days.  I bagged snacks.  Cut cantaloupe.  Cut veggies for the veggie tray.  Froze pumpkin in candy molds for smoothies.

The kids were out playing with friends this whole time.  The boys went fishing in the river.  Karis played with her friends.  I love that they have each other!

Robert worked, then he had to go pick up the camp jeep because it broke down.

At the end of the day I did a quick pick up of the house, finished the dishes, set the coffee up for the next day, signed the kids folders, and did a little bit of spot sweeping.  I went to bed exhausted and fell asleep pretty quickly!  It was so great!

I really think having all three kids in school is the best for our family.  I feel so much better mentally/emotionally.  The kids are thriving.  Karis is actually doing so much better this time.  She feels somewhat stressed, but she’s handling it very well.  I encourage her constantly and she has amazing teachers.  She’s making A’s and B’s!  A 100 in science and even an 86 in math!  This is HUGE, especially since she came in late in the school year.  Also, she’s doing well writing with her left hand since her write arm has a cast on it!

Yesterday I went to AA (always amazing!), then I had a nice lunch on the patio of Chili’s afterwards.  Then Walmart, then home!  We had dinner with friends last night.  It was so amazing!

I always get my Sonic Coke Zero with lime before AA.  And there’s a dollar there because they take up donations to pay for the fee for using the building, material, etc.  That’s my AA Big Book.  We read “How It Works” last week and this week.  It’s my favorite chapter in the book.  It tells you how to work the 12 steps.

The burger was a Smokehouse Cheeseburger.  It had a special sauce, crumbled bacon, 2 amazing onion rings, and all the veggies.  It was so amazing, and of course I love their fries.

Today I’m hosting ladies’ Bible study here.  It’s always a sweet time of fellowship.

Life is good!!  Praise God for this!!

Scattered Post… Update, AA, My Story, Friendship, and Plans

I used to blog every day and now every time I sit at my computer to blog the words don’t come.  I have so much on my mind, and I just don’t know how to get it out these days. … Continue reading

Scattered Update… An Alcoholic is Always an Alcoholic

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.  Truth is, I have been struggling (still).

I don’t know if it’s my thyroid (I just started meds for it) or the hydroxyzine that my psychiatrist put me on, but I’m just sleeping all of the time.  Also my friend suggested that maybe I am depressed and I think that’s true, as well, to an extent.  And my cough has been there still, which is so annoying.  My doctor told me that it’s just allergies and gave me a nose spray and Tessalon Pearles.  I’ve also been taking Mucinex DM.  It helps some, but when it wears off, my cough comes back in full force.  There’s also a chance that it could be viral.

I have had no desire to clean, I’ve struggled to be fully present for Karis; Robert has been doing dishes, dinner, and laundry when he gets home from work.

I’ve also been struggling deeply with obsession about alcohol.  I had been doing sooooooo well until this week.  It hasn’t left me alone.  I went to Rocksprings Tuesday by myself and went to the store for a few things.  I kept walking by the wine and staring at it.  Remembering the wine that I used to drink, feeling the relief that I felt at the beginning of drinking it (not thinking of how bad I felt at the end of the day), and finding a wine that isn’t in a bottle that I could easily buy a bunch of and hide.  I was feeling desperate.  Luckily I walked away and texted my sponsor when I got home.  I talked with Robert and he reminded me that I’m okay.  I will be okay.  I just need to take good care of myself.  I wrote about it on Facebook for accountability (I know, most people don’t share about that on FB but I do).

I’ve been doing a lot of AA meetings on In The Rooms.  I want to do more in person but it’s so hard with where we live.  Honestly the online meetings are just as good!  And I can do multiple a day if I need to.

I’m taking it one day at a time.  I’ve read and heard that coming up on a year is really hard.  I have a couple of friends that are struggling who I met in the treatment center.

An alcoholic is always an alcoholic.  The possibility to drink is always there.  All we can do is take it minute by minute and day by day.  It has been pretty easy lately until this week so I’m hoping that it’ll get easy again.

I saw my doctor on Monday to discuss my blood work, symptoms, and my cough.  She was so great… she was concerned, listened to me, and did a thorough exam.  She came to the conclusion that my cough is most likely from allergies based on the fact that my lungs and heart sound great, and I have bad drainage.  She gave me Tessalon Pearles and a nose spray to clear the drainage.  So every day I take Mucinex DM, the Tessalon Pearles, the nose spray that she prescribed, and Flonase.  I feel okay when I stay on top of all of this but when it wears off the cough comes back.  And I have a slight cough even with all of that.  The cough has lasted about 2 months so far and is wearing on me.

I told her about my symptoms and she said that with my TSH number and symptoms she is diagnosing me with hypothyroidism.  She put me on Nature Throid which I was thankful for because I have had bad side effects from synthetic thyroid meds.

She also put me on cholesterol meds because I have been on it before and it worked with no side effects.  It’s in my family so changing my diet and exercising did nothing in the past.

I’m on sooooo many meds and supplements.

Morning meds and supplements

Night meds and supplements

I have continued to end my day listening to Serenity Spa Music and lying next to my diffuser with essential oils.  I take baths when needed.  I meditate sometimes (though I don’t do this often enough).

I still feel so distant from God (I have talked about this in the past).  I haven’t been leaning into Him like I want to.  I miss Him.  I do spend some time in worship and that’s helpful.  We will be going back to church again in a few weeks, and I think that’ll help so much!

I have been asking Karis constantly if she would go back to school.  I have been so worried that she will suffer because I am struggling.  But she has begged me to stay home.  I then considered the online public school, but I changed my mind after talking with people about it.  It’s super difficult and intense.  Plus she would still have to test, which is why she struggles so much in school as it is.  So we have landed right where we were.  She is pretty independent and helping her some actually helps me.  It gives me some purpose and something positive to do.  She has been doing well these past few weeks.

Anyway, this is a scattered update.  I will hopefully come back with a  more positive post next time, but this is life with mental illness (bipolar 2, depression, and severe anxiety), alcoholism, and now hypothyroidism (high cholesterol has no symptoms).

Learning to Cope with Anxiety Now That I’m Not Drinking

I realized Saturday night just how much my mental illness affects me these days.  The past few weeks I was in town multiple days (town is far, far away).  Between the driving (2 1/2 hours round trip), the waiting, the meetings, the counseling, the doctor appointments, etc, I was just worn.  I don’t handle being away from home well.

This weekend we planned on going to my parents’, staying the night, then going to church for Easter yesterday.  Saturday evening I was sitting at my parents’ just feeling very restless and anxious.  I just needed to be home.

We left at about 8:00 to head home.  We got home at about 10:30.  Sounds crazy to leave that late, but I just couldn’t handle being away from home anymore.

Saturday night I was just lying in bed mad at myself for not being able to handle things well.

In the past (for about 7 years), I would drink to handle anxiety.  I would drink at my parents’ house (a lot), most evenings (because that’s when I was most anxious), before going to camp events (and I know I made a fool of myself on multiple occasions), and when we traveled.  I would drink every time we had people over (before they came I would binge).  It was just how I handled anxiety; mostly social anxiety, but generalized as well.  And being the alcoholic that I am, I would just drink “because” a lot.  It prevented anxiety.

I remember talking to my previous psychiatrist (well, PA) about my drinking and he would just tell me that it’s common for people who have anxiety to drink to quiet it.  Not once did he tell me that it’s a problem (well once he just told me to not drink and take Xanax at the same time).  Because of this I was in denial that I had a problem, but that’s for another post.

Now that I’m not drinking, I have to feel my emotions.  I also have to have different ways of coping, and my biggest way is to just stay home as much as I can.  I keep a clean/organized house because mess and clutter makes me have anxiety.  I have to leave the boys in school even though I want to homeschool them, and they want to homeschool.  I have to have a quiet morning of Bible study and coffee to start my day out well.  I listen to a lot of worship music.  I have to end my day listening to “Serenity relaxing spa music” because it quiets my anxiety.  I drink a lot of caffeine free Coke Zero to replace the alcohol that I often had in my hand.  I have reduced my caffeine a LOT.  Mostly just drink half caff coffee in the morning and a Coke Zero with lime when I’m in town.  That’s about all the caffeine that I drink now.  It has helped.  I take a lot of medication.  It helps a lot, but it doesn’t take it away.  I see my counselor 3-4 times a month.  Sometimes I hike or walk to prevent evening anxiety.  And believe it or not, homeschooling Karis has helped a ton.  It gives me purpose for my days, but with just her it’s not anxiety inducing.  She’s easy.

I am trying to get disability and I have been denied 3 times already.  My lawyer is trying to get me a hearing date but she said it takes 12-18 months.  So I’m just waiting right now.

My desire is to be stable enough in a few years to be able to homeschool the boys again the year after next.  I don’t know if that’s going to happen.  I will for sure homeschool them when they are in junior high because they will be independent by then.

I just want to be able to do what my heart desires, but with mental illness it’s important to be realistic.  Since I’m not super stable right now, I would possibly relapse.

My goal right now is just focusing on coping and self care without drinking.  It’s a big goal!  With God’s help I can do it.  It’s just going to take lots of work!

An Update and Grati-Tuesday

This past week was lllooonnnggg.  I had bad anxiety and I could barely see past it.  I was pretty selfish through it and have had to repair a few things.  I’m grateful for the grace of people in my life … Continue reading

Happy Monday!


My day started at 5:15.  I love waking up early these days.  I got up, made coffee, woke up the boys, helped them get ready, did my Bible study, planned my day, ate breakfast, and did dishes all before 8:30.

I hung some stuff up in the school room.  I found a map and decided to hang a frame to make less white space.  It feels more cozy now.

We did school (mostly independent but I worked with her on some things such as writing, grammar, and spelling).

 

I did my AA step work for the day and read handouts and listened to audios from my dietitian.

Next up is online AA.

Lots of hard work and self care!

What is your plan for this beautiful Monday?  How will you take good care of yourself?

Learning and Growing with Every New Day

From the chapter of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, “How it Works”:

“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.”

“…self-seeking…”

“…self-centered, egocentric…”

Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.  Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…”

“Above everything, we alcoholics much be rid of this selfishness.”

“We had to have God’s help.

“First of all, we had to quit playing God.  It didn’t work.  Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director.”

“He is the Father, and we are His children.”

We read half of this chapter on Monday in the AA Women’s Big Book meeting and these bold words stood out to me.  I have been stuck in this for a long time.  I am self-centered, self-seeking; most of all I have had a lot of fear and self-pity.  I sit and focus on my illnesses and difficulties in life.

I posted this on Sunday:

“This describes me 100% right now. Mental illness, EMDR, counseling, alcoholism, AA, fighting cravings, taking care of my family, just getting through each day… takes a lot out of a person. I feel that I am a strong person (thanks to Jesus), but I am worn. Starting a new week tomorrow with hope in Jesus, knowing that I can get through the week because He’s with me.”

While all this is true for me, I was really hoping for pity… I was acting in self-pity and I wanted people to encourage me.  This is self-centered.  I wanted attention because of my issues… and in reality, this is me trying to make them my identity.

I want people to see me as strong.  I want people to see me as brave, courageous, and honest.  I don’t want people to see me as having self-pity and being self-centered.  I want people to see my love for others.  I want to be known for my love for Jesus.  My identity is in Jesus first and foremost.  Without Him, I am nothing.

Something else that’s really important is the reminder that I need to get my butt up and outside moving.  Not for weight loss, but for time to commune with God and for mental/emotional health.  I hiked Tuesday… I took it slow, took pictures, noticed the flowers, listened to the birds sing, listened to the river running, and was just in the peaceful element of nature.  It was perfect.  I talked to my counselor about it Tuesday night and she really wants me to make this a priority.  It’s hard in the moment when I don’t feel like doing anything, but it is so stinkin’ helpful that I need to do it even when I don’t feel like it.  My counselor that I had in Frisco would tell me that when I can’t think my way into acting, act my way into thinking.  So in other words, even when I don’t feel like it, just get up and do it and it will help me mentally/emotionally.

It was a beautiful day.  Sunny and the perfect temperature.

I used to exercise obsessively when I was dieting, and definitely not for mental/emotional health… mostly to try to lose weight.  I counted steps, calories, etc. I would exercise to be able to eat or I would exercise to make up for what I ate.  This is not healthy.  I sold my FitBit because I was tired of feeling guilty if I didn’t reach my 10,000 steps a day, and when I hiked, I would obsess about getting as many steps as I could, not enjoying it.  I now use Map My Walk, only to see how many miles because I’m curious.  It’s not something I have to keep up with every day.  And I can hike without the app… it’s all about curiosity.

The program with my dietitian is called Attuned Eating for Attuned Living.

Every week I have audios to listen to, worksheets, and lots of readings (including some books).  She also goes over my food journals most days and we have a weekly Zoom meeting so we see each other and talk to one another.  Sometimes there are one or two more ladies in the meeting.

Today we talked about something that I have been struggling with… my coffee and Coke Zero intake.  She thinks it’s keeping me from being able to listen to my hunger and fullness cues.  I drink so much coffee in the morning that I have a hard time eating breakfast… then I’m shaky by lunch time and over-eat.  She also pointed out that there is a reason why I feel the need to have a lot of coffee and Coke Zero (only drinking those and drinking very little water).  She thinks I have a habit to the process.  Also, I’m using my drinks to replace alcohol, which means that I’m still trying to not feel certain things.  It’s an emotional crutch.  She wants me to be journaling about how I’m feeling when I drink coffee and Coke Zero.

We’re also focusing on my eating breakfast every day so that I’m not starving and shaky by lunch.  The most common thing that I’ve been eating is breakfast tacos.  Potato, bacon, and egg with salsa and cheese.  It keeps me comfortable until lunch.  Today I had homemade Greek yogurt and steel cut oatmeal.  I’m pretty hungry now, but it’s almost lunch time so I’m fine.

The most important thing that she’s doing is helping me to learn to love myself just the way I am.  She told me that gaining a little bit of weight is normal as my body overcomes the constant dieting that I did for so many years.  My body is trying to find it’s set point.  Where it’s supposed to be without dieting.  I may end up losing weight eventually.  But the most important thing is to not weigh myself at all because it changes my emotional state big time.

The most important thing that I have learned this week is that I need to make God’s word and fellowship with His people priority.

I got very behind on my Bible study because of dietitian homework, driving to and from town, and being depressed and anxious.  It’s been a rough few weeks.

I was going to skip Bible study since I was so behind.  Robert did everything but push me out the door.

We had technical difficulties so we ended up having Bible study at my house, watching the DVD on my tv, and having coffee and discussion.  It was really great!  From now on the Bible study is going to be at my house.  I’m so excited about that because it’s built in accountability.  I also love to host women in my home… especially since I’m alone most of the time!

We decided to start fresh next week (turns out, I wasn’t the only one behind), so now I’m right on schedule!

I started it as soon as we finished!

This book (1 Peter) talks a lot about trials and suffering.  It’s just right for what I’ve gone through and continue to.  The good news is that it says “for a little while.”  That’s hopeful!

 

So… through struggle comes strength and growth.

Between AA 2-3 times a week, step work, meeting with my sponsor weekly, working with a dietitian that wants to teach me to love myself the way that I am,  my counselor working with me on my self worth, daily time in the word, constant worship, church (becoming members), and so much more, I’m growing so much!

Through working hard, I’m learning more about myself and my calling.

Being the Best “Me” That I Can Be

I met with my counselor on Monday, and she decided that we needed to do some psychotherapy before we moved on with EMDR again.

We discussed the fact that I have PTSD on top all of my other mess.  We discussed the signs of PTSD and how I have many of them.  These signs aren’t always there at once, but they are definitely there.  She didn’t circle panic because I haven’t been experiencing that lately, but it is something I have struggled with off and on.

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We talked about how I can work through my anxiety.  And I learned that caffeine greatly affects my anxiety!  I had no idea.  So I’m slowly working on reducing caffeine which is hard because I love my coffee and Coke Zero.  I use it to cope and to not want alcohol so much.  I’m so used to drinking something through the day!  At the moment I’m at half caff coffee and I’m drinking less Coke Zeros… including some La Croix sparkling waters and plain water in there.  I also drink herbal tea at night.

We talked about learning to talk to myself in a more positive way and how important that is to my anxiety.  I need to be practicing that right now…

We talked about how to breathe when I’m in the midst of my anxiety.  Deep, slow breaths from my belly.

She reminded me to listen to music that brings about positive thoughts.  This is a no brainer for me because I mostly listen to praise music and Christian music (Bethel, JJ Heller, Shane and Shane, David Crowder, etc).

She also reminded me how important getting outside and walking/hiking is for my mental health all around.  I plan to go for a short hike this afternoon.

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I started working with a dietitian on Monday.  We met Tuesday and Wednesday via Zoom.  It was so great.  I have started the program by listening to audios from her, reading lots of things, doing worksheets.  Wednesday I started the food log.  The point isn’t for her to see “how healthy” I’m eating (I’m learning that food isn’t inherently good or bad), but for her to see how much I am eating and if I am listening to my body.  Paying attention to hunger and satiety cues.  Processing through how I’m feeling about things.  Making sure I’m doing some sort of joyful movement and taking good care of myself.  She also thinks I should reduce my caffeine intake for many reasons (just like my counselor).  So I’m working on that.  Today I had half caff coffee this morning and water with lunch.  I ended up having a few Coke Zeros this afternoon, but that’s a start.

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Today was a really rough day.  I wrote about it earlier in my post Self Pity and Pressing Into Jesus.  It only got worse and I got to where I didn’t want to get off the couch.  I also had a very strong urge to want to drink. I ended up having get up and moving because I had to pick up the kids.  That was the best thing for me.  Then, Robert came home and he made me feel so much better.  This evening we’re working together to make dinner (fish tacos, black beans, guacamole, and coleslaw).

We also got to talking about what we can do to help me not have days like this.  The biggest thing is that I need to be at AA more often.  I was planning to do it online but that hasn’t been happening.  I need the face-to-face and accountability.  I will go at least on Monday and Wednesday… and maybe Fridays.  We’ll see.  Also, being in town more will help because it will keep me moving and around others.  It’s worth the extra cost in gas to make this happen.