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 … Continue reading

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 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 … Continue reading

The Hard Stuff… Processing Through My Fear, Falling into the Gospel

I have had yet another long few days thanks to anxiety.  I will feel good for a few days and think that I’m “over the hump” for it to all come flooding back even worse than before.  This over-breathing/hyperventilation syndrome … Continue reading

Grati-Tuesday and Getting Back Into Routine!

It has been a long time since I’ve written a Grati-Tuesday post so I thought I would do that today.

I have been struggling for so long that I have forgotten to be grateful.  In fact, at one time I wrote “Gratefuls” to my sponsor every day and I haven’t been doing it much at all lately.  I need to get back into the habit of gratitude.

My wonderful hubby.

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My beautiful kiddos.

 

Our view and rainbow (second one recently).

Girl time with Karis eating homemade pizza and watching Gilmore Girls.  This will happen more often now that it’ll just be the two of us during the day.  She’s excited!

Having summer staff (and one full time staff) over for a big breakfast a few days ago :-).

Date night in of steak dinner with Robert thanks to my mom buying the steaks.

We played games and watched a movie :-).

My Happy Planner and seasonal stickers, my household notebook, pumpkin spice candle in a fun mason jar, and coffee with pumpkin spice creamer in it (NO, it’s not too early… see header picture! haha).

The kids played store for HOURS this morning.  I love that they spent so much time without electronics by choice!

Then they played with friends.  I love that they have great friends that are like family here.  I also love that Robert and I have great friends that are like family here.  We are so blessed to be here.  This is the only picture I took.

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Tonight Karis has her two good friends coming over and the boys are going to our neighbors’ house.  We will be making dessert and watching a movie.

 

My anxiety breathing issue has been so much better since Sunday.  I don’t want to get my hopes up, though, because it could come back.

On a similar note, I don’t feel 100% because I still have a cough.  I called Teladoc and the doc told me that I have a viral cough and they just last a long time.  There’s not much that can be done for it… She gave me 3 days’ worth of cough medicine (they can only treat for a few days and if it lasts longer they tell you to see your doctor), and she told me to drink honey and lemon in warm water and use a humidifier (which I don’t have, but I might get one Friday if I decide not to go to my doctor).

Anyway…

Robert and I spent all afternoon/evening Sunday cleaning the kids’ rooms, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and prepping food for the week.  We took the boys separate beds and put them back into a bunk bed (their request) and deep cleaned their room.  It took hours.  It was so bad.  The goal is to make them clean after they play now.

Before:

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After:

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I made Italian coffee cake, peanut butter pies, peanut butter chocolate protein steel cut oats (recipe to come!), cut veggies for snacks and meals, boiled eggs, made chicken salad, and cut summer sausage and cheese.  Robert helped with a few things.

Fall is coming soon which means ROUTINE!  In 2 weeks (from tomorrow!) the boys will be going back to school and Karis will start homeschool.  Friday we are buying school supplies.  The boys are super excited!  Levi will be taking his lunch and Ethan wants to eat lunch there most days (they get free lunch… everyone at that school does).

I meant to do some school planning today but it just didn’t happen.  I have time, and I don’t have much to do :-).  I pretty much just need to update the schedule/checklist that I made for Karis.

Karis will be staying home alone (with neighbor’s on call for emergencies) on some Mondays or Wednesdays that I go to town for AA and/or counseling.  I plan to go once a week either of those days.  Robert will be off 2 out of 3 Mondays pretty soon so it’ll most likely happen on a Monday.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m going to give her a chance :-).  The beauty of living here at camp is that there are people everywhere to help out!  And this is a safe place.

Things are looking up :-).

Over-Breathing, More Natural Remedies, and My New Focus

One of my best friends spent some time Monday sharing a bunch of links with me about hyperventilation syndrome (also called disordered breathing or over-breathing).  I didn’t read all of the links, but I found a few really helpful ones that made me feel like I’m not just making this up.

From Breathing Works:
“Disordered breathing occurs when upper chest breathing, usually at a faster rate and through the mouth, becomes the dominant pattern of breathing. Disordered breathing can also include big sighs, yawning, breath holding, feelings of breathlessness, or feeling unable to take a good breath in or out. Over time, disordered breathing can cause a large variety of symptoms including dizziness, anxiety, pins and needles, chest pain or tension, blurred vision, feeling easily overwhelmed, and constantly on edge.”

From Physiotherapy for Hyperventilation:

“How do I know if I am over-breathing? You may not be aware that your breathing is wrong or you may be aware of some, or even all, of the following most commonly experienced symptoms:

(I have most of these, though some of them aren’t constant.)

  • Frequent sighing and yawning
  • Feeling breathless, even after relatively minor exercise
  • Difficulty co-ordinating breathing and talking and/or eating
  • Breathless when anxious or upset
  • Pins and needles in hands/arms/around mouth
  • Palpitations
  • Feeling permanently exhausted and unable to concentrate for no apparent reason
  • Throat symptoms (I clear my throat constantly)
  • Muscular aches and tension around the neck/shoulders/jaw
  • Bloated feeling in the stomach
  • Light headedness

 

What causes these symptoms?

When we over-breathe we eliminate large quantities of carbon dioxide on every out breath.

This causes a chemical imbalance affecting many of the body’s systems. The results can be extremely unpleasant and frightening, causing us to become anxious. This can further upset our breathing pattern and a vicious circle develops.

Triggers
You may be well aware of a particular event or experience that triggers your over-breathing, although this is not always the case. Possible triggers include bereavement, anxieties at work or home, altered breathing due to chest disease, (e.g. asthma) or following surgery.

(My trigger was anxiety)

How can I help myself?
Become aware of the way you breathe…
and how it may vary in certain situations. By learning to control the rate and depth of your breathing, i.e. retraining:
Learn to nose breathe.
Try to stop yawning and sighing.
Focus your breathing gently into your abdomen, avoiding excessive upper chest movement.
Become aware of your posture and learn to recognise areas of tension in your body.

Exercise…
This can be a good way of increasing your general feeling of well-being and self-confidence. If exercising is particularly difficult, discuss this with your physiotherapist.

(Exercise makes it worse right now but I think I’m going to try yoga.)

Diet…
Variations in your blood sugar levels can contribute to your symptoms, so:
Avoid large meals, particularly late at night.
Eat regularly
Take healthy snacks between meals”

(I’m working on this.  I’m not always consistent with my eating.)

 

I read somewhere else (can’t remember where) that reflux is a symptom, and I’ve been struggling with that as well.  Papaya enzymes are my friend!  I tried them Monday night, and they worked almost right away.

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More Natural Ways that I’m Working on my Anxiety

Meditation and Breathing Training

I have two great apps that have worked really well for me.  I wrote about the meditation one before (Meditation Studio), but my friend shared a different one with me yesterday and it made a HUGE difference just using it a couple of times!

The app is called Breathing Zone.  It’s really simple.  It just has you breathe in and out in different amounts and times.  It completely reset my breathing.  Then I struggled again, then I started focusing on breathing through my nose only.  I have also been meditating when I first go to bed.

I took a picture today of myself before I started my breathing re-training while resting this afternoon.  I look kind of a mess (no makeup, hair everywhere, and zits), but I’m just thankful that I have these resources!  They have helped so much!

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Essential Oils
I received these essential oils from a friend yesterday, and I was floored.  She bought me 11 oils and some Stress Away bath bombs.  I totally don’t feel deserving of this.  Young Living EO’s are NOT cheap.  I’m praying that they help me!!!

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I no longer have a diffuser, so I ordered a pretty inexpensive one off Amazon.  Hopefully it works okay.  Diffusers from Young Living are at least $60 and this one was only $20!  It looks promising.  I will probably buy another one in a few weeks to have one in the living room and one on my desk in my bedroom.  We’ll see.

diffuser

I used to be anti-oils but I have decided that I am willing to try anything and my friend is helping me out SO much with this so I will try all of my options!

Supplements

I take a lot of meds (Buspirone, Lexapro, small dose of Lithium, Lamtictal, small dose of Risperdol, Propranolol, and Gabapentin), but I’m actually hoping to reduce soon because my doctor and I feel that I’m on too much (which I think has been causing me more anxiety).  I will always have to take meds, but less would be better.

I recently shared about all of the supplements that I take (Rescue Remedy as needed, Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Cod Liver Oil, Probiotics), but I have recently added 5HTP with Melatonin at bedtime and Vitamin B Complex.

I also ordered Epsom salt to use with essential oils in baths consistently.  I bought a “Sport” one because it was $5 cheaper ($10 instead of $15 for 5lbs)!  If I find that I’m going through a lot, I will buy a 19lb bag because it’s so much cheaper.  We’ll see.

epsom salt

Acupuncture

When I was really struggling a few days ago my counselor suggested I try acupuncture.  I have never been open to that before in the past, but I was desperate and I made an appointment at a place called Kerrville Community Acupuncture.

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I ended up canceling the appointment when I noticed that they breathing re-training was WORKING.  It is always a fall back, though, if my anxiety gets bad again or if it just doesn’t settle down long-term.  The acupuncture does a lot of good things so it would never be bad to do.  I just don’t want to spend the money now (although she is pretty inexpensive with a sliding scale!).

Bible Study, Journaling, Prayer, Worship 

This is the most important one.  I have been struggling so much spiritually and I talked with one of my best friends a few weeks ago about not totally trusting God because He allows such bad things to happen.  In the midst of my suffering with the breathing issue (it’s TERRIBLE you guys) and having to put the boys back into school (again), plus thinking about the gruesome suicide of my brother and mine and my brother’s mental illness in general, I was just low.  She was amazing and shared lots of scripture with me, but I just couldn’t hear it.

The past few days I have been reading from an app called the First 5, and the study is on suffering.  It’s so perfect and exactly what I need to be reading right now.  It has you read a chapter out of scripture (starting with Job, and I read out of my study Bible with commentary), then there is a devotional to follow and an open-ended question that it asks at the end where you can type your answer right into it.  I am also using my Quieting Your Heart journal that I’ve shared before in the past.

Then I spent some time listening to worship music (which I haven’t been doing as much lately) and it was so perfect for my heart.  I could “hear” God speaking to me again for the first time in a long time.  I could feel His love.  I felt hope.  It’s been a while since I have felt hope.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me today, and He comforted me and was my counselor.  I have needed that for a long time.  Years.  I am convinced that I need to trust Him to be that for me more often.

Speaking of… I decided to pull out a book that has been on my bookshelf for like 8 years.  I read a couple of chapters when I got it but never finished it.  I totally forgot what I read those 8 years ago.  It’s called Forgotten God and it’s by Francis Chan.  I started reading it again today and it spoke so clearly to me.  I’m looking forward to actually reading it all the way through this time :-).

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I’m keeping most things off of my plate right now.

My new focus is my relationship with Jesus, my family and friends, keeping my anxiety low, going to AA (and staying sober), homeschooling Karis, and “healthy” habits that I have been doing for a long time (including gratitude, meal planning, meal prep, self care, keeping the house mostly clean, and one that I have been working on for about 5 months but still have a long way to go… self love).  That is all I can handle at the moment. And honestly it’s a lot!  What keeps triggering my anxiety is trying to do too much (all of that PLUS a movement habit, still feeling the need to focus on weight loss, planning other Balance 365 habits, planning a backpacking trip that I’m not ready for, homeschooling all of the kids which is the biggest thing, etc), so I will NOT make that mistake again, for a while at least ;-).  Now if I can keep my perfectionist brain away!

Feeling Defeated

When I started feeling better with-in a day of telling the boys that they would be going back to school I thought that was IT!  I wouldn’t struggle with hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) again. To my disappointment, Friday night, I started … Continue reading

Night and Day

I thought I would give a little bit of an update on things.

I am night and day better from where I was this time last week.

I have settled into the idea that I will only be homeschooling Karis, and I’ve learned to be good with that. She does better at home, she is mostly independent, and she is fun to work with. There is no stress or anxiety involved in it. I’m looking forward to digging into things with her. And we have a good relationship and she’s now a pre-teener so this is good for us.  I plan to really dive into stuff with her and learn along side her.  And on the days that I don’t feel up to it, she is capable of doing everything on her own!

I hope to do Poetry Teatime every Friday with the girls at the camp.  It will be so fun.

The boys are so excited about going back to school, and honestly they do really well in school. I’ve talked with their teachers from this past year (one emailed me and one I emailed first), and they are so happy that they will be back. They were so encouraging and positive.  The boys will learn and grow at school. We will have a regular routine/schedule every day which will be good for my anxiety and good for my Ethan’s anxiety as well. He needs that routine.

I plan to still do some nature studies with all of the kids.  We will try to take a few “field trips” but not as many as when I would have had them home.

And I am happy to be able to focus on getting healthier mentally and physically. As you know, I have mental illness, and I also went to rehab last fall for alcoholism (which is a mental illness as well). I need to be able to focus on keeping myself healthy and sober. In addition, I’m trying to get back to health physically (using the Balance 365 program) because I haven’t been doing too well there, either. So I guess this is just a season of health for me. Maybe once I’m healthier, I can bring my boys back home (if that’s God’s plan). It’ll probably be a while if that does happen. In the meantime I’m happy about playing with the kids until the boys’ school starts on August 23rd. We were going to start school next week. And I’m looking forward to doing some back-to-school shopping and all of that.

Family camp this week has been pretty great so far.  We have 2 more full days, then we leave on Saturday.  I haven’t felt good the whole time, though, because of my cough and constant nausea.  I’m also really tired all the time.  So I’ve just been resting as much as I can.  We have done 1-2 activities per day and played in the game room a lot.  We have had great meals, fun themed nights, and I’ve enjoyed time with friends.  We have been gone from home for a full week already, which is hard for me because I’m a homebody and an introvert.  I’m making it, though, and am trying to just enjoy the time that I have with my family all together!  It is a blessing to have this opportunity.

Here are some pictures of our week so far:

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Build-your-own pizzas

I actually did the Cross Bows!

The kids love the foam pit, but not as much as last year.

Family devotionals and outdoor worship

RC Cars were fun!

Patriotic night

Patriotic night ended up being indoors.

Drift Ball ended in some minor injuries.

Tonight is Luau night.

The next two days are packed full of fun activities.  Paint war, lake front, date night, hiking, more RC cars, kickball game, dessert, and a dance.