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

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

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.

The Hard Stuff

Yesterday in my Facebook memories, I came across a picture of Karis doing school and me lesson planning.

It automatically brought me back to when it was just her and I.  It was beautiful, and I miss it so much (she does too).  This brought me back to the thought that maybe I could just homeschool Karis next year (junior high and beyond).

This was really heavy on my heart.

So I decided to hike by myself in order to have some prayer time (I always think best and am the least distracted when I’m outside).

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I don’t know how many miles I hiked or even how long I was out.  I just know that I had a heart-to-heart with God on that path.  I shared my heart to want to homeschool.  I shared how frustrated I am that I haven’t been able to because of my brain.  The brain that I wish wasn’t mine so much of the time.  The brain that I can manage (some times) but it won’t heal (I guess God could heal it, but I don’t see that happening).  The brain that carries mental illness in many forms (bipolar 2, severe anxiety, and alcoholism).  The brain that has to have a lot of medication and therapy.  The brain that makes it next to impossible to work.  The brain that needs constant work every. single. day.  Self care, unfortunately, is my whole day, every. single, day.  I say unfortunately because I absolutely hate that I have to put myself first every day.  This was not taught in church in the pews of my southern Baptist church.

Not only do I have this brain, I have the fact that my brother committed a gruesome suicide and I have yet to heal from this.

I also have abuse and bullying (physical and mental/emotional) to heal from.

I have to focus on sobriety every. single. day. (well, every minute of every day)

As you can see, I have a lot of work to do.

Because of this, Robert and I made the decision (again) to keep the kids in school.  This is so hard for me because I desperately miss homeschooling.  My kids have all made it clear that they miss homeschooling.  But it’s just not God’s plan at this time.

Luckily, their school and teachers have been amazing.  Despite the fact that it has been difficult, they have been growing so much.  It’s really best for them despite what we want.

I have talked about this before, but I will eventually be doing EMDR therapy to deal with abuse, bullying, and Joey’s death.  I start with my new counselor on Wednesday.  She already seems amazing, and I’ve only met with her for about 30 minutes so far.  My counselor’s first goal is to help me learn to love myself because without this, I can’t move forward.  This may take a while.

Between hating my brain and going up yet another size, I have a hard time with loving myself.

I’m so thankful for family and friends that love me the way I am, despite my lack of love for myself.  And a Savior that loves me more than anyone on earth could love me.  He will continue walking beside me as I do the hard stuff.

Remembering What’s Important

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Today as I was looking at my memories on Facebook of years past on the same day, I came across a blog that I wrote a year ago today (It’s Been a While).  It was exactly what I needed to read.

You don’t really have to read it because the important stuff will be quoted here.

A few reminders:

I am unable to work.  I have tried and tried.  I thought an at home, part time, computer job would be the dream job because it’s more simple than teaching, but it proved to be just as difficult for me as my previous jobs.  I have never been able to keep a job because of my mental illnesses, and I just don’t see that changing.  I have been denied for disability twice and am now working with a lawyer to try to get it.  It’s hard because I’m okay when I’m not working, but my anxiety and depression are terrible as soon as I start working!  It’s hard to explain that to social security!

I truly do have a sick brain.  My bipolar has been under control, but I’m still working on managing my anxiety.  I go to counseling once a week for cognitive behavioral therapy (for anxiety), take lots of medications (6 for my mental health alone, plus supplements and 2 other meds), practice lots of self care, daily prayer and Bible study, and go to AA (including meetings 3-4 times a week, step work, meeting with my sponsor once a week, and daily gratefuls) for my addiction to alcohol.  These are the only way I’m managing right now.  Without these, I would be really struggling.  It takes a lot of work!

I am back to the food freedom, body positivity, anti-diet life.  I wish I had stuck with that last year instead of ditching it and dieting again (for 3 months!).  For some reason summer is a huge trigger for me to diet.  I don’t understand why.  I’m hoping that doesn’t happen again this year.  I am now in several groups that focus on these things, so hopefully I’ll stick with it! I wrote this in last year’s post: “I am learning to finally accept my body the way it is.  I am finally DONE with diets and hard exercise programs.  I am learning to eat to nourish myself (and sometimes that involves a doughnut), move for enjoyment, and I am okay with the fact that I may never be the size I once was.  I have kind of become anti-diet industry now and am un-following everyone that focuses on that (especially the pyramid scheme marketing companies that sell stuff for “weight loss”) because I don’t need that un-healthy view of bodies staring me in the face.  It has brought me so much freedom.”

I’m back to this 100%.  Exactly the same thoughts and feelings, unfollowing people, the freedom it brings, etc.

 

My family has been and continues to be my support.  Without them I don’t know where I’d be.  Between being passively suicidal many times, dealing with alcoholism, and my severe anxiety, it’s been a very hard thing for us all to deal with.  I mean, my kids had to live with my parents for almost a month.  They were completely out of their normal routine, not doing much school, and missing me and home (not my parents’ fault at all, just not normal life for them).  Robert has stood by my side in sickness and health.  He supports me at my worst and at my best.  He loves me for who I am, not who I wish I could be.

One of the biggest things that I have been struggling with is feeling like my blogging doesn’t make a difference.  I do blog for myself mostly, but I want to know that I’m not just blogging for myself.  Yesterday I was reminded that I am speaking to people (I received a private message from an old acquaintance).  Even if it’s just a few, it’s worth it.  I want this blog to be full of authenticity.  I will always be open and real.  I may share things that I’m good at, and that’s okay too!  I’m learning to be confident in the gifting that I have.  I pray that it is all used for God’s glory and not my gain.

Last year I wrote: “This blog will never be what is viral out there, and I’m okay with that. If my blog never grows, then I’ll just know it is for the people who need it, when they need it. I trust God with it all. Numbers don’t matter to me. It’s authenticity and depth that I’m looking for. So, my hope is that you will always find that here. I may not always post about mental illness, but that is typically what I post about. Hope you’ll stick around!”

And now I post about alcoholism because I’ve finally come to terms with that (AA step 1!).

In the midst of it all, God is good and sovereign.  He has a plan, and He will be glorified through it all.  I am me, and I am made the way I am for a reason and a purpose.  I am thankful for the freedom that I have in Him to be that person that He created me to be.

Re-learning Normal Emotions

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This week has been full of ups and downs.  Mostly ups, but some bad days and good days; some good moments, and bad moments.  I had a lot of time to reflect on what that means in regards to my illness.

Looking back…

I have had some GREAT moments in my life (hindsight, these times were most likely hypomania that I didn’t know I was having).  During these times I felt on top of the world… I felt like I would never have a bad day again.  I could bake 10 homemade goodies, make all of my personal care products and cleaning products homemade, keep a spotless house, keep up with laundry, play with the kids, exercise, eat perfectly, plan and prep meals for the week, etc… all in one day.  I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing as a “good mom and wife.”  I thought I was amazing.  Little did I know, I was living out my illness.  This is what hypomania looks like in my life.

This was usually followed by a low period (depression).  Those low periods were terrible.  Unfortunately I didn’t know what was going on so I thought I was a horrible wife, mom, friend, etc.  Sadly I had people on Facebook tell me I was being negative and even had a good friend de-friend me on Facebook because of it (because that helps)… I digress… I couldn’t get out of bed, off the couch, sat staring at my computer for hours and hours, etc.  My house was trashed all the time.  Laundry would pile up into loads and loads of laundry that needed to be done.  My kids were sitting in front of the tv so that I could stay on the couch, on my bed, whatever.  I often felt like I wanted to run away and had suicidal ideations (never thought I would go through with anything… just thought that maybe the world would be better off without me).

At this point in my life…

I am considered to be in “remission” from my illness.  I’m not having the high moments (hypomania), and I’m not feeling depressed.  I still have some anxiety (mainly in the evenings), but it has gotten much better.  I was scared to drive for a little while for fear I would get in a wreck, I was scared to let my kids out of my sight, and I would wake up in a panic thinking someone was going to die.  All of this recently until the doctor put me back on a medication for anxiety (he had taken me off of it thinking it wasn’t working, but obviously it was).

So the other day I had what most would call a “bad day.”  I immediately started thinking, what if I’m going back into depression? What if this isn’t the right dose and medication. I was worried about a bunch of stuff.  Then, this amazing thing happened.  I dealt with an issue that was bugging me.  And all of a sudden I started feeling better.  The rest of my day was better.  Not amazing, but not depressing.  I realized something in that moment.  Moments of stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, and fear are normal.  It’s just when they last and last that they become a problem.  I’m learning that simple problem solving can rid me of these emotions, and I can move on with my day.  On the flip side, moments of joy, peace, happiness, being carefree are normal.  Ups and downs are normal.  It’s the extremes for long periods of time that aren’t.

I have lived in a state of extremes my whole life so I didn’t know what was normal.  I’m having to re-learn a lot as I’m in “remission” thanks to the right dose of the right medication.  I’m also trying to learn what is anxiety caused by my illness, and what is just normal, regular old anxiety (my doctor reminds me that some anxiety, sometimes is normal).

So here I am, living this life that God has given me.  Sometimes feeling joyful, at peace, happy; and sometimes feeling angry, frustrated, or irritable.  Ultimately, I’m loving life and this new found peace that I am feeling.  I’m still praying that it will continue.  My fear sometimes is that the medication will stop working, or that something will happen to cause me to go back into my cycle.  So, I’m taking it one day at a time.  That’s all anyone can do, right?

My Story: How God Brought Me From the Pit to Complete Joy and Peace

These past many years have been a very wild ride.  A definite roller coaster.  And I have seen God working through every part of it.  Even when I fought and fought.  Even when I wanted to give up.  Even when I was incredibly impatient.  Even when I just flat out didn’t understand.  God had a plan the whole time.  Looking back, I can see his plan unfold over the past several years (and I mean several… like 10 or more).

Life is hard, y’all.  If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that.  It takes a lot of leaning on Jesus and allowing Him to carry you through it, or we wouldn’t make it.  I have had a lot of things happen in my life and I could wallow in it and say “why me?”  But instead, I chalk it up to the fact that God has a plan to use everything for His glory and name.  He also wants what’s best for us at all times, and sometimes we have to go through the yucky times to get there.  We end up stronger in the end.  Scratch that.  We end up realizing we have strength in Christ.

Just over six years ago, my brother committed suicide in a very gruesome manner.  At the time I was 7 months pregnant with Levi (my third child in a little under 4 years).  I had Levi then went through terrible, terrible postpartum depression.  I wanted to run away.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I was put on some medication and it helped me get through it, but I wouldn’t say life was any easier.  I was grieving.  I had three kids 4 and under.  Robert worked every single day.

We moved to Dallas 6 months later and lived with my in-laws.  I knew if I didn’t start working, we would never be able to leave my in-laws.  So, I got a job.  The next year and a half were brutal and I was still struggling with depression and severe anxiety (and panic attacks).  I was still processing my brother’s horrible death.  I quit working because I couldn’t manage anymore.  My dream was to homeschool, so I tried to do that with Karis and it was pretty much a flat fail.  We moved to Frisco a little later and life was pretty good for a few years (the only working I did was part time at a preschool, which was pretty awesome!).  Then, I tried working full time again.  Bad idea.

Just over two years ago I went into the hospital because I was “passively suicidal.”  Truth is, I just couldn’t live this life anymore.  I had nothing left in me to give.  I would go to work, do an okay job (all while feeling incredibly anxious and on the verge of a panic attack), come home, and go to bed.  Robert took care of everything.  He did an amazing job.  Not only did he do the basics, he went above and beyond like keeping up with laundry, keeping the house clean, etc.

Going into the hospital was the best thing I could have done for myself. I was able to process the feelings of grief about my brother’s death that I was pushing back because I couldn’t handle it.  I met other people like me.  I felt for the first time like I wasn’t alone.  I made friends that I still talk to today.  I was able to just rest.  Do crafts.  Exercise.  Do yoga.  Eat really well.  I almost didn’t want to leave.  It was a breath of fresh air.

Going to the hospital led my doctor to a new diagnosis for me: Bipolar 2.

The next two years have been pretty wild.  I worked off and on, always having to quit because of my illness.  I couldn’t handle a job.  It was too much for my mental health.  It led me back to the hospital in November of 2014.  I realized then that working is just not possible for me.

Last year around this time, Robert received an email from the Operations Director (now Site Director) of Camp Eagle.  We were excited but obviously didn’t get our hopes up because it had taken months (from the time he applied) to even receive an email.  Soon after, Robert had a phone interview, then soon after that, we found ourselves at Camp Eagle for an in person interview, tour of the camp, and a chance to hang out with and meet the staff.  It was amazing.  But, we still didn’t get our hopes up because even though we had this visit.  I’m not sure how many weeks went by (it was excruciating while we waited), but Robert eventually received the offer for the Maintenance Director position.  It was official.  We were moving back to camp.

This past year has been so amazing in so many ways!  I would not want to be anywhere else.  But I can’t say the whole year has been perfect.  This summer I made the realization that my medication wasn’t really working all that well.  I had a major hypomanic period, followed by a major depressive period.  Back to not being able to get out of bed.  Back to sleeping all the time.  Back to passive suicidal thoughts.  My life is so perfect, why am I so depressed?

We decided to put the kids in school again instead of homeschooling because I didn’t think I could handle it because of my depression.

It wasn’t until I saw a new doctor in October (November? Somewhere in there) that I felt like I could do this.  He took so much time to get to know me.  He went back to the beginning.  Through my conversation with him, he came to the conclusion that I do in fact have Bipolar 2 and we need to get it under control.  He made it clear that it is possible to get it under control.  His confidence gave me a huge relief.  He weaned me off of two meds and started me on a new one in which I had to slowly increase the dose.

Around this same time, Karis was really struggling in school.  Long story short, we ended up deciding to pull her out of school and homeschool her.

This school year (since I pulled her out) has been amazing.  Homeschooling her has given me a reason to get up every morning.  We have grown together in our relationship.  It has been fun for me to use some of my teaching skills that I haven’t been able to use in a while.  It hasn’t been easy (lots of trial and error with curriculum, etc), but it has been just what we both needed.

I was still having some hypomania episodes followed by depression (though not NEAR as severe), so my doctor increased my medication one last time and this is it.  This is the right medication and the right dose.  I feel completely and 100% normal.  I have good days, and I have bad days… just like everyone else.  But I’m not hypomanic and I’m not depressed.  I’m also not near as anxious as I used to be.

Between feeling really well, the fact that the boys’ school is 35 minutes away, and the fact that at camp homeschooling just makes more sense, we decided that next year we will homeschool all of our children.  I am so excited that I already ordered all of their curriculum (after hours and hours of research… and thanks to our tax refund).

I share all of this because I have realized a few things.  God had a plan from the time I was in college (well, obviously even before that, but this is where I see things start).  I got my teaching degree, and I love to teach.  It just happens to be in a different way than I envisioned.  I have wanted to homeschool since we were at our last camp, and I’m finally able to do this.  He led me to an amazing doctor who has not given up until he found the right medication and the right dose to help me not have symptoms of hypomania and depression.  My anxiety is the lowest it has ever been.  I have the desire and will to keep up with my house (which has always been a point of anxiety for me), keep up with laundry (which I’ve never been able to do before), homeschool, cook dinner (which sometimes means mac n cheese, dining hall, or something really nice and I’m okay with all of that), bake once in a while (but not obsessively), be content with my body (still getting there, but much more content than ever before), exercise for enjoyment, spend time in the word (not out of guilt, but pure desire), enjoy time with our wonderful community (which, being an introvert, this is huge), reach out and serve others, and just enjoy life.  The ups and downs.  The good and bad days.  This life that He has allowed me to have.

We went to San Antonio Saturday and while it was somewhat stressful (San Antonio River Walk on a Saturday was a bad idea), I feel like these pictures show the pure joy that I feel.  I feel like I can breathe.  Laugh.  Enjoy life.

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I can’t express how thankful I am.  I tell God every day.  I wonder if he’ll ever get tired of hearing it?  Probably not.  He delights in praises and gratefulness.

Where are you in your journey?  If you’re in the middle of the fire right now, know that God will use this for His glory and your good.  He loves you.  He knows what’s best.  Just hold onto Him.

Running Away from the Dark Cloud

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Remember in my last post when I talked about napping every day last week?  I napped again today (despite saying I wouldn’t).  I’m realizing today that my depression is creeping back in.  I thought my new medication was a “miracle,” and I realized today that either I’m not on the right dose yet, or it’s not the “miracle” I thought it would be.  I’m feeling very discouraged.  I’m working really hard to overcome this and not give in.  But it’s a fight.  I’m feeling that dark cloud coming on fast, and I’m running away from it as hard as I can.  

I called my doctor today and he increased my dosage, so I’m praying that will help.  But I’m not super hopeful.  I’ve been talking to people about bipolar and the more I get to know the illness, the more I realize this is something I will be battling my whole life.  There are medications that truly help, but there will always be extreme ups and downs.  It’s just the nature of the illness.  I know some seasons will be better than others and I’m thankful that there will be good seasons.  But in the meantime I’m feeling pretty hopeless about the long-term.

In the meantime, I put one foot in front of the other and practice self care.  I will drag myself through this the best I can.