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

My New Journey

Words aren’t my friend right now so bare with me.

A little over 7 years ago my brother died by a gruesome suicide.  A few months later I had Levi and went through terrible postpartum depression and anxiety.  My life has never been the same.

3 years ago I was suicidal for the first time and ended up inpatient at a mental health facility.  A few months later I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 and generalized anxiety disorder.

The past several years have had many ups and downs.  I have been in outpatient therapy and most recently was in a treatment center for alcoholism.

I have spent so much of my time advocating for myself and others with mental illness.  I got the above tattoo (not quality work, but I still like it) almost 2 years ago to represent that (check out Project Semicolon to learn more about the symbol).

Today, I’m not doing well.

I was worried that homeschooling Karis again was the cause of my anxiety, but Robert and I have pretty much determined that it is in fact my medication.

I am feeling hopeless.  The medication that I cannot afford is what is best for me and no other meds have worked like it.  In fact, the one I’m on not only doesn’t work as well, I really feel that it is the cause of my anxiety.

Yesterday I wrote on Facebook that I was no longer going to share about my mental illness because I’m tired of being “known” for mental illness.  If they wanted to read about it, they could go like my FB page.  Then today I woke up with anxiety again, and I asked for prayers on FB.

A lot of people commented and messaged me.  I felt guilty for doing what I said I wouldn’t do, so I deleted my post.

I’m so tired.  Tired of being the needy one.  Tired of being the one that is always struggling.  Tired of being the one that is a drain to others.  Tired of being the one that is too open.  Tired of being the one that focuses on herself so much.  Tired of being a mess all the time.  Tired of being tired.

I don’t know what the future of sharing looks like.  I want to be an advocate, but I also don’t want people to only think of mental illness when they think of me.  I want them to see the other parts of me, too.  On the days when my mental illness is winning, it’s hard for me to see the other parts of me let alone share those things with the world.  I have noticed myself not sharing as much when I don’t share about my mental illness.  I’m not sure why that is.  I think the biggest thing is that I’ve convinced myself that a part of me is me.

Every time I think I’m going to post now, I have to put a lot of thought into it.  I think I’m on a new journey of learning who I really am (with and without my mental illness).  We’ll see where this leads me.

I will probably always be vulnerable on here because that is what my blog is about.  It’s my outlet.  If anyone wants to, they can come read this instead of me complaining all of the time on Facebook.

Really Doing What is Best for My Girl

This has been a long week for Karis and I (more for her than me).  Starting Tuesday she was acting weird… extra emotional.  Then it got worse Wednesday.  She was also complaining about stomach pain.  She had a few others symptoms that worried me.  Wednesday night was a little party for her and she blew the candles out on the cake and left.  She went home and was in tears about stomach pain.

She was going to help me with this cake but didn’t feel up to it.  Her friend iced it.

I made her smile for a few pictures.

The pain just got worse and worse.  Thursday she was in tears most of the day (bawling sometimes… and it didn’t matter who was there).  I finally decided to call the doc and make an appointment.  She was able to get her in the next morning.  Thursday night I found out she has been having digestive issues for a while but she was embarrassed to tell me.  At that point I was so glad that I made an appointment for her.

I’m so thankful to my cousins because they watched the boys so I could take her in without them.  It turned out to be God’s hand in it because we wouldn’t have been able to be as open with them there.

We were there for an hour.  We talked about Karis’ severe anxiety at school, her crying all the time at school, her withdrawal from other students and struggling to make friends, the fact that she has mentioned suicidal thoughts to me, the being exhausted all day and having a hard time going to sleep at night.  Then we talked about her digestive issues, and my suspicion was correct.  She has the condition that I thought she had.

What I didn’t realize is that her psychological issues are likely the cause of it.

The nurse practitioner was adamant that she see a psychologist to get a diagnosis then have her see a counselor.  She also strongly felt that homeschooling is best for Karis.  She believes that she has severe social anxiety (and some depression).  But we won’t know for sure until we see a psychologist (if we can afford it).  She said that school is a major trigger for her and we need to remove that trigger to heal her body.

After that appointment I asked my counselor if she saw kids and she doesn’t, but she referred me to a person in her office that does (and said he is amazing with kids).  I called him yesterday afternoon and we talked for about 30 minutes.  He is fantastic.  He does art and play therapy and has experience with kids with the same condition that Karis has.  Bonus is that he is an LPC intern (I trust interns because I have had a good experience with one) and he doesn’t charge much at all.  He charges what you can afford.  He said I could pay as low as $10.  I’m paying $25.  That is incredible for good counseling!

We also decided to go ahead and withdraw Karis and start homeschooling her.  Just in time for STAAR testing.  She has been in tears over that stupid test.  She was being tutored for math and her teacher stopped it because she passed the benchmark by 2 points (not enough in my opinion).  And she doesn’t know how to divide!  It blows my mind that their only goal is passing that stupid test.  I hate it.  But I don’t blame the teachers.  It’s not their fault.  It’s the system.  They hate the test as much as I do (I remember from being a teacher).

Another thing that we have to do is to start limiting gluten and dairy again (mainly no breads and straight dairy like milk, ice cream, straight cheese, etc).  She said that she can still have yogurt because the proteins are broken down.  Lots of water.  Lots of fiber (which is hard for her because she is so picky because of textures).  We got a fiber supplement and will be trying to get her to eat more veggies.  She refuses to eat fruits (except bananas and apples, but the doc said those are out).  She has to take a few meds for a while to get her healthy.  She also will be taking a good probiotic, vitamins, and fish oil.

We’re coming at this from all sides.

Karis is so relieved and excited that we are going to be homeschooling.  She feels better emotionally already.  Her whole demeanor has changed.  She slept great last night!!

Robert told me last night that we need to do this as cheaply as possible for now.  I dug through what I still had (stuff that wouldn’t sell) and I have so much already!  I have science (textbook, notebooking journal… I realize it’s a junior one, but we’ll make it work… and lab kit), spelling, writing (between the book pictured and writing packs from Teachers Pay Teachers), tons of novels (and reading response cards from TpT for journaling), lots of informational books (and reading response cards from TpT for journaling), and a quiet time curriculum studying the whole Bible.

My neighbor is loaning me history (everything needed, saving me about $60) and Math U See blocks, fraction over lays, the DVD, and the instruction book (saved me $115!).

All I had to buy was Math U See student books ($40… workbook and tests) and grammar (an $11 workbook… Easy Grammar).  I’m going backwards on math so that she will learn division well.  She has struggled with it from the beginning.  She will feel so confident once we get through some of this.

I will be saving up for a few things for the fall.  Notgrass From Adam to Us (unless we decide to keep doing what we’re doing… this is literature and history… Karis loves it… it is $100), Essentials in Writing (maybe… it’s $87), more spelling (each book is short and cheap), and the next math student books (when we’re finished with this one, $40).

 

 

Now, for my self care.  I will be able to continue AA and counseling on Mondays.  Robert is off 2 out of 3 Mondays so he will be with her then.  The other Monday she will either hang out with a friend here or we will go to town together and my mom will hang out with her in town.  She can take some work with her and they can hang out in a coffee shop or something.  I will do some online AA during the week (I have to actually make a point to do this because I didn’t do a good job in the past).

I will make sure to do my Bible study each morning (and have Karis do a quiet time).  We will do a mother/daughter devotional together as well.  I will make sure to continue to eat all meals (breakfast is new to me), reduce caffeine until I no longer drink caffeine (for anxiety and figuring out my hunger/fullness cues), I will continue doing the readings and meetings with my dietitian, and keep a good routine for myself.

This is the devotional that we will be doing:

We’ve had it a few weeks but it has been hard to find time to do it with school.

We both feel at complete peace and can’t wait to get started!

Grati-Tuesday and Update About Meds

Today has been a very long day.  We all got up before the sun in order to get out the door to meet my mom at my grandma’s house.  They had to watch my kids so I could drive to San Antonio to see my psychiatrist.  I had so much anxiety over my appointment, and that didn’t help my exhaustion this morning.

I drove the hour and 40 minutes to my grandma’s house, spent a little time chatting with her, then got back in the car to drive another 25 minutes to San Antonio.

I got to my appointment early, and surprisingly, they got me back pretty quickly.  My doctor knew that I was coming in because the pharmaceutical company had denied my application for patient assistance (for my Latuda), and I can’t afford my medication anymore at $850 with insurance.

She was so sweet and encouraging.  She told me that there are always options, so never feel hopeless around medication changes.

We decided that I will go back on the Geodon to replace the Latuda.  They are in the same class and Geodon is $60 a month with my insurance vs $850.  I’ve taken it before and I had rapid ups and downs… but… I wasn’t on Lamictal yet and I was drinking heavily.  So I have no idea how it will work now.

Another thing we talked about is my recent bad depression.  She was pretty concerned about that and feels that we need to address that.  She decided to put me on a low dose of Lithium.  I have been scared of it for a long time because I know my brother took it… and he ended up committing suicide.  So anything he took, I’m leery.  But I know he is different than me.  I need to give it a chance.

I was overall very pleased with my appointment and just her care and concern for my well being.  I’m thankful that I had to change doctors!

After my appointment, I drove back to my Grandma’s house and had lunch.  My mom made a homemade lasagna, garlic toast, and salad.  We also had corn.  It was all so great!  I’m so thankful my mom cooked so we didn’t have to spend money on lunch.

Then we drove to Kerrville to get prescriptions.  2 hours later (long story), we left for home.  I did about 4 1/2 hours of driving today.  I’m worn out!

Now… Grati-Tuesday.

I’m grateful that we celebrated this girl with my mom and grandma today.  Her birthday is tomorrow.  She turns 11!

I’m grateful for the beautiful weather today!  The temp was perfect and the sun was shining.

My Grandma gave us all of this food from her pantry!  She was happy to give some away because she was out of space.

I’m grateful for these 7 medications (6 for mental health and 1 for cholesterol).  Without them I would probably not be here.  Even though I am sometimes depressed and anxious, it’s not near what it used to be.  I hate depression, though.  I remembered recently just how hard depression is to live with.  I’m so glad to be working with a doctor that is fighting this with me.  And most importantly, family and friends that are fighting this with me.

I’m also so grateful for my dietitian.  She is helping me so much in my intuitive eating and body love journey.  I have a llllooonnnggg way to go, but I’m on my way.  One day at a time!

I’m grateful that I have been too busy to even think about alcohol.  Having my kids home actually helps this.

Now to have dinner!  Robert is making ravioli with olive oil and parmesan and shrimp and pasta with homemade alfredo sauce!  Yummmmm.

Talk to you soon!

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.

Self Pity and Pressing Into Jesus

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I have so much to talk about (my counseling appointment, my meetings with my dietitian, etc), but I am just sitting in self pity right now.

I wrote this on FB last night:

I am so mad that I have the illnesses that I do. Without my medication (and even sometimes with medication) it is life threatening. Without my doctor, I couldn’t get my medication. Without the therapy that I have done and continue to do, I wouldn’t be able to work through stuff to get through each day. And along those same lines, addiction is an illness as well that is also life threatening. All of this is in my brain and I can’t do anything about it. These illnesses keep me from being able to work and have a normal life. These illnesses keep me from being able to homeschool like I would love to do.
I just have to continue to trust that God has a plan for it all and He will be glorified. Cause tonight I’m just mad.

 

The fact that it’s so hard to take the meds that work because of not being able to afford them is the most difficult part of it all.

Add in the trauma that I’ve been through and am working through, and I have a lot to deal with.

I was talking with a friend and she told me to find something that I would enjoy and try to use it to snap myself out of this self pity, but I just have no desire for anything right now.  I may force myself out to hike, we’ll see.
All I can do is press into Jesus.  He will use this for His glory, and He will be glorified through it.

I am the Lord your God,
I go before you now.
I stand beside you
I’m all around you
And though you feel I’m far away
I’m closer than your breath
I am with you
More than you know
I am the Lord your peace
No evil will conquer you
Steady now your heart and mind
Come into my rest
And oh, let your faith arise
And lift up your weary head
I am with you
Wherever you go
Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m everything
Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m your everything
I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves
And I am your steadfast, so don’t be afraid
Though your heart and flesh may fail you
I’m your faithful strength
And I am with you
Wherever you go

When the storm rages
I won’t be afraid
I have locked eyes
On You face to face
Your voice I will follow
Your eyes I will see
I’ll come a little closer
Come close to me

Importance of Self Care and Fighting For Myself

This week has been hectic to say the least, and today I have spent the day with lots of self care.

I didn’t get up till 7:30.  I ate breakfast (that Robert made!), made my coffee, started my Bible study, and couldn’t stay awake.  I ended up taking a 2 hour nap from 8:30 till 10:30.  Then I woke up feeling terrible and anxious.  I knew why I felt that way, so I took care of it.  I needed a shower and to clean up the house.  After doing both of those, it was time to drink my coffee :-).

I blogged about my groceries while drinking coffee, then it was time for lunch (yummy leftovers of brown rice, sausage, yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, and orange bell pepper).

As I reflect on the week, I realize how important it is for our family to not be involved in so many activities.

Sunday night I had a lot of anxiety knowing how crazy the week ahead was going to be.  Mondays are my town days.  Ethan desperately wanted to do basketball, which at the time I knew it would be every Tuesday/Thursday at 5:45.  Wednesday is choir.

With basketball being so late in the day, that meant we would just be hanging out for a couple of hours in the library.

I got through my day on Monday (more about this to come).  Tuesday was crazy because I had to prep for a baby shower, then go to Rocksprings to sit in the library from 3:30 till 5:45.  Ethan was a ball of mess.  Stressed, anxious, and nervous.  He couldn’t focus.  He was crying/throwing a fit about everything.  Then the same thing happened after practice.  After practice I had to rush home for a baby shower.  It was fun, though!  I’m glad I went.

Wednesday morning I found out that some practices will be on Mondays.  I can’t do Mondays because of my therapy and being in town.  This kind of sealed the deal on basketball.  It won’t be happening anymore.

When I told Ethan he told me that he was relieved.  The fact that they are never home to play with their friends was weighing on him.  He was feeling overwhelmed (like I get!).  He is thrilled to come home today to play.

I think we are just meant to be a family that doesn’t do a lot of extra curricular activities for many reasons.  One of the biggest is that we live so far from town!  If the kids could come home, do their homework, and play for a little while before practices, it would be different.  We live about 40 minutes from town!

Another thing is that I absolutely have to take care of myself.  Without lots of self care I can’t function.  I hate this some days… I don’t want to have to put myself first.  But in doing so, I can be a much better mom and wife.  It’s a benefit to my family and friends.

Rushing back and forth every day is NOT self care.  It’s getting back to a crazy life in which I cannot function.  I am trying to get disability because I can’t do anything but self care.  I can’t homeschool (at least until they are older); I can’t work.

Then this afternoon happened… I found out that my patient assistance was denied for my most expensive medication… $1000 a month.  I have been on the phone all afternoon and into the evening trying to figure out what I can do about that.  There’s not much that can be done, so I’ll probably have to change meds.  There’s only one medication that is even slightly similar and I didn’t have good luck with it before… but… I was drinking a lot and I have since been put on another bipolar med.

Fighting for myself is hard work.  And Robert reminds me that that is my full time job right now (and probably will continue to be).  I’m worn out at the end of every day and I don’t even do that much (compared to the way things used to be).

I planned to write about my appointment with my counselor and with my dietitian, but I didn’t even get to that today.  I’ll try to write about that tomorrow!

Happy Monday!

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I’m going to try really hard to make this a beautiful day!  Today is my town day which brings anxiety (I’m not a huge fan of doing a lot in one day).  I will be meeting with my sponsor (at IHOP), going to women’s AA, and going to counseling and doing EMDR.  I’m so nervous about EMDR after last week.  It affected me for days afterwards.

The plan today is to come home and go to sleep.  Robert is off so he will be picking up the kids.  He will also be making dinner.  Everything is prepped for him.  Tonight’s dinner is meat sauce, pasta, and steamed broccoli.  Easy peasy!

I hope that by resting tonight I will make the rest of the week great!

So I guess it’s a happy Monday because I can take good care of myself!

Tomorrow through Thursday will be busy!  Every one of those days I will be in Rocksprings for the afternoon/evening because of basketball and choir.  Tomorrow night we have a baby shower here at camp.  I need to get lots of rest today because of all of this!

I hope your Monday is happy and wonderful and beautiful!  What are your plans for today?  What will you do to take good care of yourself?

 

My First EMDR Treatment

img_9020(This is the sunrise over the hills that I see every morning. Beautiful!)

This has been a really rough week.  I did EMDR on Monday and it has affected me since (I’m assuming that’s what it is based on what people have said about it).  This is going to be a very tough process.

Tuesday and Wednesday I felt terrible.  I felt a huge weight on me.  I was anxious and feeling depressed.  I couldn’t get enough sleep.  I slept several hours each morning (after I got the kids off to school) and just felt like I had been hit by a truck.

Finally Wednesday I texted my counselor.  Sure enough, she said that I must have triggered something when we did EMDR on Monday and we will need to tackle that next Monday.  Also, I found out that being exhausted is just part of the process (which I had been told, but I guess I didn’t believe it until I experienced it).  Also, my feelings will be raw afterwards because we’re digging deep and bringing that stuff out.  Eventually things won’t phase me over time.

So the first thing she did was get to know my history from the beginning.  We did that our first appointment.

Then, we spent some time just talking, for me to feel comfortable with her, and for her to see more into my heart and mind.  We did this for the second appointment.

Then, we worked on creating a “safe space” in my mind for me to go to when I’m anxious.  For me this is the mountains.  Also, I can hear the Serenity Spa music in the background in my mind for my safe space (I listened to this a lot when I got out of the hospital the first time).

Finally, we started the EMDR process.

She uses these vibrating hand held devices.  They take turns vibrating.  The point of this (from what I understand) is to activate both parts of the brain (the logical side and the emotional side).  It goes back and forth, back and forth.

She had me close my eyes and focus in on one specific incident.  For me, this was an event in which I was physically abused by classmates when I was little.

She would have me focus in on it, then we would take a break.  Focus in on it in a different way, then I would take a break.  I could hear the sounds of the events, feel how it felt physically, and with-in my body.  Eventually she led me to how it made me feel emotionally and how it affects me now.

According to EMDR.com, these involve the client identifying three things:
1.  The vivid visual image related to the memory
2.  A negative belief about self
3.  Related emotions and body sensations.

We only addressed one specific incident, and we have many more to address.  I have more situations in which I was physically abused by classmates, a few other things that I don’t feel like sharing, then we will eventually address my brother’s death (gruesome suicide that I feel out of touch with).

I’m also learning a lot about how feelings aren’t facts, they are fleeting, and to use my “safe space” in my mind when I’m struggling with anxiety.  This is what my counselor talked me through when I was struggling on Wednesday.

One other tidbit of information from my counselor is that she thinks I have been struggling with bipolar since I was little (and anxiety).  Some of my behaviors are indicative of bipolar in a child.  So I thought that was interesting.  With bipolar 2, it’s often difficult to tell if it’s an illness or just behavioral issues.

This process will take time, but I see it really benefitting me in the long run.  A lot of my anxiety and depression are there because of these events and how they made/make me feel.  A lot of things have been going on with me since I was little, and a lot was triggered after Joey died.  So I know it affects me.  I’ve been stuffing a lot for many years.

I’m so glad I’m not working or homeschooling right now.  I really do need this time to focus 100% on my healing and self care.