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
Routine. It’s so necessary for my mental health. While I try really hard to implement it during the summer, it’s not built in so it’s hard. I tend to stay up too late. Sleep too late. Sit around drinking coffee … Continue reading
I wrote a piece for Juggling the Jenkins blog. If she chooses it, it will go on the blog and in her new book. We’ll see! I thought I’d share it here because it’s a short version of my story. … Continue reading
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
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.
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).
Yesterday was a fantastic day. Robert didn’t work. He’s not home often right now. There are so many projects going on here at camp. Things should slow down soon, and we are taking a few trips this summer.
We cleaned up the house, Robert worked on our Xterra a bit, then we went to town so Robert could buy some things for camp.
We went to Sonic for ice cream, went to the park (a new one that we hadn’t tried before), and went to a book store that we had never been to before.
The kids played on the little kid stuff at the park :-). Haha.
The book store that we went to gives 75% off the cover price if you bring a book to trade (I didn’t know this so I paid 50% off the cover price). You have to bring kid books to buy a kid book. But we have a lot that we won’t read. I think we’ll plan to let the kids pick out a book each time that we go into town. This will give them something to look forward to and maybe the boys will enjoy reading more (well, Levi enjoys it already but Ethan pretty much hates it). Levi started reading one of his Star Wars books right away and is several chapters in. It blows me away that he can read and comprehend books that are written for older kids. Karis actually struggled with reading until she got a little older (now she’s on like an 8th grade level). Ethan has always struggled (and still does). So for Levi to be in first grade (well, just finished) and able to read big chapter books blows me away. He’s also really good at math. And spelling. Things just come easy to him! I’m thankful!
I didn’t get Karis any books because she has a LOT of books that she loves (the boys don’t), and I just didn’t see any that she would enjoy.
We also got stuff for s’mores and hot dogs at Walmart.
When I went to Walmart to get the stuff for s’mores, I had to walk by the cases of beer (cause grilling, fires, s’mores, and beer all goes together). I looked closely at my Blue Moon that I used to drink. I had a fleeting thought of how nice it was when I could drink it and sometimes I miss it. But. I wouldn’t trade where I am today for what I felt like a year ago. I’ve had anxiety lately but it’s nothing like it was a year ago. I had hyperventilation syndrome and I couldn’t breathe right. I had restless legs a lot. I had terrible insomnia. I would wake up after the alcohol had worn off and couldn’t go back to sleep. Every. Single. Night. I tried everything to be able to sleep. I had an obsession and compulsion to drink and the more I had the more I wanted. It was never enough. I threw up multiple times a week (like I’ve mentioned before). The room spun every night, and I often passed out. Many, many times I woke up wondering if I had done anything that I shouldn’t have (looking at texts, FB messages, and fb posts). I also didn’t remember a lot. Being an alcoholic is ugly and embarrassing. There’s nothing glamorous about it. And statistics show that 15% of people are addicts/alcoholics so I know there are people reading this that are and don’t know it. Or they don’t want to admit it. You can have this freedom that I have with some work! I’m 228 days sober today and I take it one day at a time!
We ended the night with a fire in the fire ring. We roasted hot dogs and made s’mores. Some neighbor kiddos came and told camp fire stories. It was super cute. The kids had a blast.
Ethan told me yesterday that it was the best day of his life.
I would agree that it was a pretty good day.
This week has been a doozy.
Wednesday I got an email from Levi’s teacher that said:
“I’ve enjoyed him this year! I remember when he first came to school. He had trouble socializing with the kids, following routines, and remembering rules. Public school was a challenge . Now he fits in with the kids, has a lot of friends and does so well. We did a memory book of first grade and one page says “my best friend are”…… Levi was mentioned in all of the boys books and a couple of the girls. He is a star shining bright! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend this year with him!”
Then I found out that Ethan has been mean to another kid. His behavior has gotten worse since I told them they were homeschooling.
I felt anxiety for several days because of this. I thought that maybe they were better off in school.
Through anxiety this week I have learned a few things…
- It’s probably never going to go away so I need to stop assuming it will.
- I’m not causing it by decisions that I’ve made… I have it because I have an anxiety disorder.
- Learning to work THROUGH it instead of wishing it away will be the best thing for me in the long run.
- Giving myself grace is so important.
- I have this assumption that peace means that I’ve done good and anxiety means that I have done something bad.
- Anxiety comes and goes. It’s like waves.
- Prayer makes a huge difference, believe it or not.
- It’s normal to feel nervous about starting something new again (homeschooling), and I WILL have anxiety some days even though we know this is the right thing.
- I have spent so much time over the years changing decisions based on anxiety. If I felt anxiety, I would change my mind on something. Then when I would feel anxiety again, I would change my mind again. It has been a back-and-forth thing for as long as I can remember. I need to learn to stick with decisions even on the hard days (and there WILL be hard days).
Robert and I talked about how we decided to homeschool based on what is best for our family as a whole, not because they were struggling at school. It works so much better out here at camp.
I decided that no matter what, we need to stick with our decision. It wasn’t just me that made the decision, and I need to trust that God is working in Robert’s heart in this matter, too. The fact that he wants to homeschool now says a lot about this decision.
Yesterday the boys were saying that they want to go to school next year. They had an amazing week of not doing much school work, playing, and partying. They were saying that they will miss their friends and bus driver (really?!). Haha. I told them that they WILL be homeschooling next year and they seemed okay with that. I think they needed me to just tell them what we’re doing no matter what (I had to come to terms with it as well). This morning they were cheering about being homeschoolers now and how excited they are! They just needed to be home to remember what it was like. They have played outside all morning, and I’m sitting on the porch while they play outside. Next week they will start reading 30 minutes a day, and we will start school in July so we can take breaks as needed during the year. We will take a week off when we go to Glorieta camp for family camp (and to see Robert’s parents) at the end of July (it starts on my birthday!).
We’re all just so at peace today and enjoying life. The house is a mess, and I’m going to have to let that go now that they are home. Luckily they clean up quickly, well, and without a fight so it should be fine.
Life is hard, but it is good. I trust God and His plans even when they don’t always make sense. I need to stick with things and be content with where we are in life.
The kids and I went swimming after the boys got home yesterday (at 1:00)! It was super fun! This will be a regular activity! When the lifeguards are out, they can play on the toys. When they aren’t, we just swim :-). Their favorite thing is the floating dock. They get on, jump off, on, off.
This morning I woke up (at 9:00!) to them playing on the back porch and yard. They haven’t done that in a long time… they mostly play across the street under our neighbor’s porch. They are enjoying the Pokemon card game!
I’m also very rested today, which I haven’t been in a long time. So that helps my anxiety considerably! I have been sooooo tired and not sleeping well. I slept the whole night last night!
I’m realizing today just how different life is now that I’m sober. In the past I would have started drinking in a few hours because that’s what I did. I drank typically starting at noon into the evening. Maybe not every day, but most days. I wasn’t living life! I was in a fog all of the time… never alert to what was going on around me. Now I can think clearly and experience things.
Life is good! Praise God!
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!
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.