Take Courage, I Am Redeemed

Yesterday was really, really hard.  I had my disability hearing and it was brutal.  I had to focus in on what life is like on my really hard days as if that’s my whole life and I have nothing to offer the world.  The weight of my illnesses was very heavy.  It brought on a lot of anxiety, and I came home and had a panic attack.  It’s been a while since I’ve had one.  In my normal daily routine I’ve been okay lately.  Better than I’ve been in a long time.  But as soon as you get me focusing on all the hard and bad, I struggle very badly again.  It was miserable.

I wrote this in one of my favorite groups (I don’t know if I have words today):

“Hey friends. After doing really well for a while (end of January), I had my disability hearing today and had severe anxiety and a panic attack this evening. It was so hard to focus in on my bad days, weeks, and months. I don’t want a label, but I know I can’t work full time and we really need for me to get paid. Now I have to wait an average of another 2-4 months. I’m worn by the whole thing and am feeling defeated. Part of me just wants to move on as if none of this ever happened and part of me wants it to work out. I’m worried that I’ll give up on being a better me if I am labeled as disabled. I am feeling all the feels today. I talked with one of my best friends tonight and she reminded me why I deserve this and I really can’t work full time. I truly am disabled, we just need the court to recognize it. I hate the system and this process. My attorney had me focus in on my bad days as if they are my every days.”

A mama in the group wrote this:

“I hate hate hate disability hearings for this exact reason. I had to go through this with one of my good friends who has cerebral palsy. The woman who denied her disability said that it wasn’t present enough days in her life to affect her ability to work. You know, all those days she woke woke up without CP? Ridiculous.

Anyway the hearing was awful and left her feeling so defeated because we had to focus on on all the things she couldn’t do. But she’s SO capable!!!! We couldn’t talk about any of that though.

After the hearing I sat down with her and told her I hated that and reminded her of what her best days look like.

I don’t know you personally. But I’ve seen enough of you on here to know that on your best days you’re pretty amazing!!! Look at all of you’ve accomplished in your house lately. You are SO organized. When you post your meal planning and thing you’ve decorated I drool with envy!

You’ve started AA! I know your group is small but if you keep one person from drinking think of the ripples in that person’s life and how many lives you’re impacting!

I know you aren’t working, but I also have some idea of how much you do just living where you live. How many lives you touch around you and how interconnected it all is. You also support your husband as he works for the Lord. Think of the people the 2 of you are touching!
You’re amazing and none of what you had to focus on at this hearing even remotely defines you

I heard this song on the way home and I listened to it over and over again.  I have heard it many times (I have the album in my favorites), but I didn’t really pay attention to the meaning of it until yesterday.  It’s amazing.  Music is huge in my life. I love to worship God on my good days and hard days.  It’s how I get through.

“Come Alive (Dry Bones)”

Through the eyes of men it seems
There’s so much we have lost
As we look down the road
Where all the prodigals have walked
One by one
The enemy has whispered lies
And led them off as slavesBut we know that you are God
Yours is the victory
We know there is more to come
That we may not yet see
So with the faith you’ve given us
We’ll step into the valley unafraid, yeahAs we call out to dry bones
Come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts
Come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes
Let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive

God of endless mercy
God of unrelenting love
Rescue every daughter
Bring us back the wayward son
And By your spirit breathe upon them
Show the world that you alone can save
You alone can save

As we call out to dry bones
Come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts
Come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes
Let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones come alive

So breathe, oh breath of God
Now breathe, oh breath of God
Breathe, oh breath of God
Now breathe

Breathe, oh breath of God
Now breathe, oh breath of God
Breathe, oh breath of God, now breathe

As we call out to dry bones
Come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts
Come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes
Let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones come alive, yeah
We call out to dry bones, come alive

Oh come alive”

I’m thankful for friends and even just acquaintances that speak truth to me in Christ and remind me that I am more than my illnesses and my past.  I can use what I go through and what I’ve been through to glorify Him.

I know I have shared this video before, but the lyrics are really resonating with me today.

“Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul.  He’s in the waiting.  He’s in the waiting.  Hold on to your hope as your triumph unfolds.  He’s never failing.  He’s never failing.”

As I wait, I’ll know that He is in control and He has a plan.  It may not be for me to get disability.  Maybe His plan is for me to feel good enough to work 1-2 hours a day with Younique and make just enough to pay for everything that we need to pay for (I don’t need a ton more, mainly just need help with some medical costs).  Maybe he will teach me to be more frugal so that we have the money that we need.

Okay… I have more on my mind, but I can’t think straight because I haven’t slept much in several days.  I need to go back to bed for a little while.

Thanks for reading my scattered thoughts.

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).





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


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.

If it’s Not One Thing it’s Another

I’ve been kind of down lately…

I thought I had found “the answer” to my insomnia.  And in some ways I did.  I sleep great!  I wake up some, but I’m always able to go back to sleep.  The only problem is… I’m so tired in the morning that I have a really hard time getting out of bed.  This medicine knocks me flat!  I’m going to have to start setting an early alarm just to get out of bed at a decent time (after hitting snooze a bunch of course).  I hate that!  I thought with homeschooling and summer I wouldn’t need an alarm.  My fear is that I will just turn it off and roll back over.  So with this, I’ve been down.

I also haven’t had much desire to keep my house clean and be in a routine.  I believe it’s because of feeling knocked out by my meds.  Sleep is such a huge part of mental health and I feel like if it’s not one thing it’s another.

On a positive note…

My doctor wrote a really convincing letter for disability about my mental health condition.  He has made it very clear that I cannot work, and I have struggled to work since I was 21 (true!).  My official diagnoses are bipolar 2, generalized anxiety disorder, and chronic insomnia.  I knew that I had bipolar 2 and anxiety, but I didn’t realize what my actual diagnoses were.  It helped me to feel justified in applying for disability and that I really have actual illnesses that are debilitating.


We have taken part of May and all of June off so far from homeschooling.  I’ve tried to implement a “read for 20 minutes” time every day and it has not gone well.  Ethan fights it with everything he has, every single day.  And the complaint I get from him is that the books are all too hard.  I’m at a loss.  So because of this, I decided to start school back up in July.  We need to get him reading and he needs reading instruction.    I’ve just decided to start over on level 2 and do the lessons again.  I think that will be sufficient.  Plus, we didn’t finish our curriculum so we can maybe get caught up if we start early.  We will only do reading, math, and some writing.  It’ll just be about 45 minutes-an hour of school each day.  I’ll also read aloud to them each day.  We started Boxcar Children book 1 and didn’t get that far into it!  Looking forward to reading them more books in that series.

At the moment I’m learning to just take things one day at a time.  I’m hoping that things start working themselves out and I am sleeping well without feeling worn, Ethan starts doing better with reading, and I get disability.  In the mean time, I try to enjoy being with my family.  Every single day is precious.

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.







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.

Hypomania, Depression, Anxiety, and Self Care

IMG_2706 On our hike yesterday on a trail at camp.

This past week was great in a lot of ways, but discouraging in some ways.  I was hoping that by quitting my job my anxiety and depression would just disappear.  That I would feel as I did before I started working.  I was so “on top” of things.  I followed a schedule and specific routine every day.  I got up at 6:15 with no trouble.  I was showered and ready (make up and dried hair) by the time we started school.  While Karis was doing her independent work, I was cleaning and doing laundry.  The house was always spotless and the laundry was always caught up.  I made dinner every night and even baked bread a few times a week.  I also made more breakfasts from scratch.  I was just on top of everything.

This week was not that way.  I found myself taking naps every morning while Karis was doing her independent work.  I was just so tired.  I could barely keep my eyes open.  I did laundry, but I didn’t stay on top of it like I did before.  I cleaned up the house, but it wasn’t spotless all the time.  And luckily we ate all meals in the dining hall or we would have been having easy meals like mac n cheese or a frozen dinner.

I talked to my counselor about it last week and she thinks maybe I was having some hypomania the few weeks before I started working.  And a week into working I went down hill (which is normal after hypomania).  It’s discouraging, but it’s also encouraging in some ways. I’m beginning to learn what “normal” is.  Normal is doing some laundry and cleaning up the house some, but it’s not perfection.  I was feeling like I was doing everything perfectly the weeks before I started working, and that can only last so long.  It’s not normal to do everything perfectly.  And it’s okay that I’m not perfect.  I was trying to catch up on sleep this past week, and I’m feeling better now.  I didn’t sleep much for over a month, so it just caught up to me.  It’s okay.  It’s normal to not have a spotless house all the time.

I want to get back into routine this week (meaning no nap every morning), but I don’t plan on sticking to my schedule completely.  I can chill out a little and still follow a routine.

On another note.  I thought I would share something that I’ve been holding back for a while because I thought it made me less of a person.  I have decided to start working towards getting disability (knowing I will probably have to get a lawyer to do this).  I’m actually already on the second step.  I have an appointment with their psychiatrist on the 19th.  I have tried and tried and tried to work, and every single time I do, I end up having to quit because of depression, severe anxiety, and panic attacks.  These things affect my ability to do my job and live my life.  I am coming to terms with the fact that I just can’t work.  Through this process, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I have a debilitating illness that affects my life in every way.  It can be frustrating to say the least because I want to work.  I want to contribute.  I want to be successful at something.  But I’m learning that it’s not something I can do.  I think I’m learning to be okay with it.  I’m submitting to the fact that I have done my best, and now I can move forward.

My goal for the new year is to learn to live this life to the fullest, and part of that is coming to terms with my illness and learning how to take better care of myself.

Self care for me is routine but not a rigid schedule.  It’s hiking sometimes but not obsessively.  It’s showering and getting ready but sometimes just getting dressed and going about my day.  It’s allowing my house to be messy sometimes but keeping it mostly clean (because when it’s too messy I feel anxious).  It’s learning balance.  Eating for enjoyment and for nourishment.  It’s homeschooling my daughter.  It’s baking things from scratch sometimes and buying baked foods sometimes.  It’s drinking hot tea at the end of the day.  It’s playing a game with my family.  It’s being with my camp family even when I don’t feel like leaving my house.  It’s reaching out and loving others.  It’s spending time in the word but not feeling guilty when I miss out that day.  It’s worshipping my Savior out of love and adoration for Him.  It’s realizing that He has a plan and a purpose for every thing.

If I stick to self care every single day (in some shape or form), I am at my best.  I believe that self care is one of the most important things when it comes to mental illness.  If I’m not taking care of myself, I struggle and become anxious and depressed.  It takes a LOT of work to take care of myself some days.  My desire is to reach out to others and love them where they are.  But I must first love and take care of myself.  I used to think this sounded so selfish.  We’re always taught to love others more than we love ourselves.  I’m learning that I can’t pour from an empty cup.  If I’m not taking care of myself then I can’t take care of my family or be there for friends.

I am so convinced that self care is of utmost importance that every single day I ask friends in a small group that I started what they are doing for self care.  It makes every one stop and think about actually taking care of themselves versus just going about the day feeling empty.

How will you take care of yourself today?