Just Processing Through Anxiety and Continuing to Figure Out Who I Am

So I’m sitting here on my back porch just feeling terrible… hyperventilation syndrome, chest hurts, cough, tingly hands and feet, foggy brain.  Just bad.  And since I’m struggling with the breathing thing, yet again, my mind goes to “fix it” mode.  What’s wrong with me this time?  What can *I* do to make myself feel better?  It has to be anxiety, why am I anxious?

My blog is usually my way to process through things, so I’m going to use it to try to find some relief.  And if I can’t, I’ll just go to bed early and do some meditation.

I started Monday out excited.  I found a blog called Blissful Britt that is basically who I used to be and who I want to be all wrapped up in one.  She’s a coffee lover, hiker, runner, foodie, and blogger.  She’s not married and she doesn’t have kids (at least not from what I can tell), so there’s that.  Obviously our lives look a lot different, but I can do what I want out of those things to be who I want to be!  It’s a choice that I make, right?

Robert seemed very excited because he was happy to see me excited about the outdoors again.  He really feels that being outside more will make a huge difference for my anxiety.  And for the most part he’s right.  I’m sitting on my porch and while I feel pretty terrible still, I can breathe a little bit better.  Unfortunately, though, that is what caused my breathing issue Monday night.  I went for an hour long hike and started to struggle, and it just never got better.

So now I’m wondering if maybe I’m trying to be someone I’m just not anymore… or maybe someone I can’t be right now at least.

This is who I want to be:

  • A person who is outside often and does all the nature-y things with her family.
  • Someone who backpacks regularly.
  • Someone who cooks and bakes often (and does a good job).
  • A homeschool mom who has a relaxed way of doing things and just enjoys being with the kids.  A Charlotte Mason homeschooling family (I LOVE her work).
  • A sober person with the ability to encourage those who are trying to be sober or are struggling (and sponsors others).
  • Someone who uses her mental illness to help others.
  • Someone who loves Jesus and that is evident in her life.
  • Someone who can let the house go a little.  Someone who can let go of organization a little and just live.
  • A good writer.
  • A mom with a lot of grace.
  • Someone who practices regular hospitality.
  • Someone who makes health priority, but doesn’t obsess over it or make it the focus.
  • Someone who is content with who she is.
  • Someone who doesn’t feel the need to live up to anything (in life, in homeschooling, in appearance, etc).
  • Someone who can just enjoy the moments as they come and not be so serious all the time (I want to be joyful!)

Oh, and then I actually considered trying to start “living naturally” again yesterday.  Like, go back to the no BPA, no paper, natural products, homemade cleaners, all homemade foods, organic, grass fed, herbal supplements, blah blah blah that I let go of a long time ago!  Maybe that’s what also caused my anxiety yesterday.  Some is good, but 100% is NOT healthy for me! (this is me, the black and white thinker here)

So now I’m trying to decide if I should make decisions based on these things (like a mission statement), or if that’s too much?  Am I causing anxiety by expecting too much from myself?  Maybe I just need to be okay with “enough.”

This is who I am (now):

  • I like to sit on the porch daily to blog or read but I don’t go for hikes as often as I would like (1-2 times a week).  The kids and I do nature walks/studies once a week.  We have plans for camping in the fall.
  • Robert and I go backpacking once or twice a year.  (I may not be able to go in August like we have planned if I don’t start feeling better, but I’m hoping to feel better, and there’s always next time)
  • I cook and bake often :-).  I love using recipes, coming up with recipes, and tweaking recipes.  I like to bake bread, pizza crust, muffins, cookies, etc.  I love to cook new things for dinner.  I have been branching out more lately.
  • I am a homeschool mom that is learning to relax and enjoy spending time with her kids using mostly a Charlotte Mason method.  I am also learning to throw off stuff that is heavy and doesn’t serve me well (I’m simplifying even more than what I had written on my last blog about curriculum).
  • I AM a sober alcoholic that does my best to encourage others when the opportunity presents itself, but I don’t sponsor like I would like to (and should) because I live so far from town!
  • I am very open about my sobriety and mental illnesses and I have a small group where people can share their needs.  I hope that my blog helps people.  It’s hard to know, though.  I don’t have many followers/readers/commenters.
  • I do love Jesus but I often wonder if it’s evident in my life because my mental illness overshadows it.  I’m working on growing this relationship, but it’s going to take a while because I have been running away (not really intentionally, but through my mental illness and addiction).
  • I definitely struggle to let the house or organization go.  I spend more time organizing than I actually spend using the organization.  And I’m constantly cleaning or yelling at my kids to clean.  That was the source of major anxiety yesterday (we spent HOURS cleaning and a lot of that was me yelling at the boys to clean!).
  • I don’t have as much grace with my kids as I would like to have, but I’m hoping I will get there one day.  Most of the time I’m doing much better than I did when they were smaller, but I have my days (I guess we all do… maybe I need to give myself that grace… maybe that’s the conclusion to all of this…).
  • I am learning to practice hospitality, but it does bring me anxiety and that makes me sad :-(.  Friday through Monday we had people over 3 times!  I really only had anxiety one of those days (Friday night).
  • I’m working on the health thing, one habit at a time.  I’m probably not going to go back to the natural/organic thing because I’ve begun to see that natural/organic isn’t what makes something healthy… it’s the nutrients in things that makes them healthy.  And slow, habit change is what’s sustainable (I have never been able to do a diet more than 3 months max).
  • I’m working on being joyful but it’s really hard when I can’t breathe right.  So that’s going to be a one moment at a time kind of thing.

Maybe I’m closer to who I want to be than I thought.  I have a really hard time “just living life” and being content with things.  I have had so much change over the years that I am always expecting something to change.  Or that we will have to do something differently because of my mental illness (and then it will be all my fault).  Thing is, I absolutely LOVE life (I’m pretty much living my dream)!  I just hate anxiety!

I’m trying to remember that I am ME, and I don’t have to fit into some kind of  box.

Well, after some time writing, I’m feeling somewhat better.  But I do think I’m going to go to bed pretty soon and do some meditation.

Tomorrow is a new day.  And I am going to town for AA, so that’ll help so much.

Simplifying for the Summer

Because of all my excitement about the “Brave Writer Lifestyle” among other things homeschooling related, I didn’t realize that I was getting more anxious by the day.  I tend to get obsessed about things that I am excited about and give 200%, then it leads to anxiety (the obsessive/compulsive side of my severe anxiety).

I came home Friday from my parents’ and the kids came home from camp on Saturday.  We spent that day just resting.  Sunday I started to notice something.  My breathing was going back to the way it was last year (and in 2013) when I had hyperventilation syndrome.  It got worse through the day.

Robert came home from work in the middle of the day and I told him about it and he pointed to the table that was COVERED with curriculum and books and said “this is why!”  I was also staring at my homeschool routine on my google doc (it was very congested).

In that moment I decided something needed to change because I can’t live that way again.  I want homeschooling to be something that we all enjoy and that works for our family!  Not something that makes my kids stressed out and causes me anxiety.

So.

I was so thankful that a good friend of mine could chat that day.  I sent her the link to the document and she helped me make necessary changes to my homeschooling routine, and I have simplified it dramatically for the summer.  I don’t plan to pick up much else in August.

So I picked the non-negotiables and made my routine with that (and definitely not scheduled times… just an order that we follow)!  I thought about just putting school off until the fall but decided to go ahead and start for three reasons: 1) Ethan needs the routine!  2) I need the routine!  3) Karis desperately wants to start (like last week!).  It’ll be good to go ahead and start so that we can take breaks as we need to!

This is the new routine:

Nature walk/journal (a few days a week)

Friday Poetry Tea Time

READ!

  • Mom and kids will read independently for 30 minutes!  
    • Read sitting on the couch, floor, chair, bean bag, at the table, or on the back porch!

Table Time
Writing

  • Copywork, dictation, narration, writing project (Brave Writer Partnership Writing), or free write (one of these per day)

One-on-One Time: The Good and the Beautiful (along with Brave Writer, I am in LOVE with this curriculum!)

  • 1-3 lessons per day (mostly one, but some of the lessons are SUPER short!)

Independent activities while I work with each kids one-on-one:

  • Handwriting Without Tears (1 page)
  • Spelling practice
  • Math U See (one video per lesson and one page per day)

Electronic time

PLAY

Dinner

Read aloud @bedtime- the book Wonder and a chapter out of the Bible.

This is IT!

In the fall I will add “group time” in the afternoon consisting of science OR history (not both) each day.  It will probably take about 30-45 minutes for that.

I also filled the basket in our kitchen/dining area with our essentials and plan to just put things in that basket that we will use each day.  Right now it has:

  • The Good and Beautiful books
  • Handwriting books
  • A binder for each kid (with math pages, G&B printouts, spelling lists, and history questions)
  • 3 composition notebooks for each kid: writing, spelling, and nature journal
  • The book that they chose to read
  • And the readers to go with The Good and the Beautiful

In the fall I will add the Story of the World book and science (starting with a unit from G&B).

I have also been watching videos from Julie Bogart from Brave Writer about simplifying and being okay with what we can handle.  She has a video titled 55 Things that We Did NOT Do As a Homeschooler.  It made me feel okay with what we’re doing!

Now.  Am I better today?  Not 100%!  But it is much better today than it was several weeks in last year, so I’ll take it.

Also, a lady in a group that I’m in told me about a technique that she does when she is struggling with this and it helped me yesterday!  I also meditate and listen to spa music to relax.

Anxiety is a beast.  There are soooooo many different physical symptoms and even when I feel better mentally, it takes a while for the physical symptoms to go away.  It’s maddening.

I see my doctor in two weeks and if it’s still going on, we will address it then.  BUT!  I’m hoping it’s better by then!

I am in a parenting with anxiety group and many of the mamas in there reminded me that it won’t last forever!  It might feel like it in the moment, but it will eventually get better.

Today we are starting school, then I will catch up on housework!  After that I might spend some time meditating while the kids have their “electronic time”.

Despite this physical symptom of anxiety, I’m so happy about life and where we are.  I’m so thankful that I no longer use alcohol to cope and that I don’t go to bed drunk every night anymore.  Sometimes I dream about it and I wake up SO THANKFUL for sobriety!  It’s a good reminder about why sobriety is so important!

Now, For Curriculum We Will Use…

…MOST things I already have!  I ordered a few things (some used).  And I’m borrowing several things from my neighbor!  I am set for the year!

Morning Time

I haven’t been super consistent with this in the past, but I’m going to try again :-).  I have so many great resources that I want to use!  I will do this on a loop schedule.  Literature and poetry, fine arts, geography, and Bible.

Geography

Bible

Math (Math U See)

For the boys

For Karis

Language Arts

They will be doing The Good and the Beautiful for phonics, reading, grammar, spelling, art appreciation, and geography (levels 2 and up).  The boys are starting with level 1, and Karis will be starting with level 3 because it’s very advanced.  They need the spelling and grammar from the lower levels.

 

 

Karis will be doing IEW Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons.

Ethan and Levi will be doing Writing With Ease Level 2 (this is narration, dictation, and copywork).

All 3 kids will also read novels and library books and do a reading response journal using these:

Reading Response Menus

Informational Text Question Cards

Reading Response Question Cards

I will also use this list of “book reports” to have them report on the books that they read in a creative way.

Here are a few pictures of the reading response questions that we will use:

This is a rubric to go with the menus.

 

Science (Apologia Astronomy)

I had this for this past year but I wasn’t consistent with it.  We’re going to use it this coming year.  We will add field trips to it!  The McDonald Observatory, the Scobee Education Center Planetarium, and NASA.  It’s going to be so much fun!

History

We’re borrowing Story of the World Volume One: Ancient Times from my neighbor.

I bought these to go with it.  The encyclopedia has internet links to go with it.

These will be our read alouds… one per month.

Handwriting (Handwriting Without Tears)

For Levi

For Ethan

For Karis

Nature Studies and Poetry Memorization

Journaling a Year in Nature by Simply Charlotte Mason

I think this is everything :-).  It seems like a lot, but many things we will not do everyday.