Grati-Tuesday and Getting Back Into Routine!

It has been a long time since I’ve written a Grati-Tuesday post so I thought I would do that today.

I have been struggling for so long that I have forgotten to be grateful.  In fact, at one time I wrote “Gratefuls” to my sponsor every day and I haven’t been doing it much at all lately.  I need to get back into the habit of gratitude.

My wonderful hubby.

IMG_2266

My beautiful kiddos.

 

Our view and rainbow (second one recently).

Girl time with Karis eating homemade pizza and watching Gilmore Girls.  This will happen more often now that it’ll just be the two of us during the day.  She’s excited!

Having summer staff (and one full time staff) over for a big breakfast a few days ago :-).

Date night in of steak dinner with Robert thanks to my mom buying the steaks.

We played games and watched a movie :-).

My Happy Planner and seasonal stickers, my household notebook, pumpkin spice candle in a fun mason jar, and coffee with pumpkin spice creamer in it (NO, it’s not too early… see header picture! haha).

The kids played store for HOURS this morning.  I love that they spent so much time without electronics by choice!

Then they played with friends.  I love that they have great friends that are like family here.  I also love that Robert and I have great friends that are like family here.  We are so blessed to be here.  This is the only picture I took.

IMG_2469

Tonight Karis has her two good friends coming over and the boys are going to our neighbors’ house.  We will be making dessert and watching a movie.

 

My anxiety breathing issue has been so much better since Sunday.  I don’t want to get my hopes up, though, because it could come back.

On a similar note, I don’t feel 100% because I still have a cough.  I called Teladoc and the doc told me that I have a viral cough and they just last a long time.  There’s not much that can be done for it… She gave me 3 days’ worth of cough medicine (they can only treat for a few days and if it lasts longer they tell you to see your doctor), and she told me to drink honey and lemon in warm water and use a humidifier (which I don’t have, but I might get one Friday if I decide not to go to my doctor).

Anyway…

Robert and I spent all afternoon/evening Sunday cleaning the kids’ rooms, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and prepping food for the week.  We took the boys separate beds and put them back into a bunk bed (their request) and deep cleaned their room.  It took hours.  It was so bad.  The goal is to make them clean after they play now.

Before:

IMG_2421

After:

IMG_2424

IMG_2425

I made Italian coffee cake, peanut butter pies, peanut butter chocolate protein steel cut oats (recipe to come!), cut veggies for snacks and meals, boiled eggs, made chicken salad, and cut summer sausage and cheese.  Robert helped with a few things.

Fall is coming soon which means ROUTINE!  In 2 weeks (from tomorrow!) the boys will be going back to school and Karis will start homeschool.  Friday we are buying school supplies.  The boys are super excited!  Levi will be taking his lunch and Ethan wants to eat lunch there most days (they get free lunch… everyone at that school does).

I meant to do some school planning today but it just didn’t happen.  I have time, and I don’t have much to do :-).  I pretty much just need to update the schedule/checklist that I made for Karis.

Karis will be staying home alone (with neighbor’s on call for emergencies) on some Mondays or Wednesdays that I go to town for AA and/or counseling.  I plan to go once a week either of those days.  Robert will be off 2 out of 3 Mondays pretty soon so it’ll most likely happen on a Monday.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m going to give her a chance :-).  The beauty of living here at camp is that there are people everywhere to help out!  And this is a safe place.

Things are looking up :-).

Over-Breathing, More Natural Remedies, and My New Focus

One of my best friends spent some time Monday sharing a bunch of links with me about hyperventilation syndrome (also called disordered breathing or over-breathing).  I didn’t read all of the links, but I found a few really helpful ones that made me feel like I’m not just making this up.

From Breathing Works:
“Disordered breathing occurs when upper chest breathing, usually at a faster rate and through the mouth, becomes the dominant pattern of breathing. Disordered breathing can also include big sighs, yawning, breath holding, feelings of breathlessness, or feeling unable to take a good breath in or out. Over time, disordered breathing can cause a large variety of symptoms including dizziness, anxiety, pins and needles, chest pain or tension, blurred vision, feeling easily overwhelmed, and constantly on edge.”

From Physiotherapy for Hyperventilation:

“How do I know if I am over-breathing? You may not be aware that your breathing is wrong or you may be aware of some, or even all, of the following most commonly experienced symptoms:

(I have most of these, though some of them aren’t constant.)

  • Frequent sighing and yawning
  • Feeling breathless, even after relatively minor exercise
  • Difficulty co-ordinating breathing and talking and/or eating
  • Breathless when anxious or upset
  • Pins and needles in hands/arms/around mouth
  • Palpitations
  • Feeling permanently exhausted and unable to concentrate for no apparent reason
  • Throat symptoms (I clear my throat constantly)
  • Muscular aches and tension around the neck/shoulders/jaw
  • Bloated feeling in the stomach
  • Light headedness

 

What causes these symptoms?

When we over-breathe we eliminate large quantities of carbon dioxide on every out breath.

This causes a chemical imbalance affecting many of the body’s systems. The results can be extremely unpleasant and frightening, causing us to become anxious. This can further upset our breathing pattern and a vicious circle develops.

Triggers
You may be well aware of a particular event or experience that triggers your over-breathing, although this is not always the case. Possible triggers include bereavement, anxieties at work or home, altered breathing due to chest disease, (e.g. asthma) or following surgery.

(My trigger was anxiety)

How can I help myself?
Become aware of the way you breathe…
and how it may vary in certain situations. By learning to control the rate and depth of your breathing, i.e. retraining:
Learn to nose breathe.
Try to stop yawning and sighing.
Focus your breathing gently into your abdomen, avoiding excessive upper chest movement.
Become aware of your posture and learn to recognise areas of tension in your body.

Exercise…
This can be a good way of increasing your general feeling of well-being and self-confidence. If exercising is particularly difficult, discuss this with your physiotherapist.

(Exercise makes it worse right now but I think I’m going to try yoga.)

Diet…
Variations in your blood sugar levels can contribute to your symptoms, so:
Avoid large meals, particularly late at night.
Eat regularly
Take healthy snacks between meals”

(I’m working on this.  I’m not always consistent with my eating.)

 

I read somewhere else (can’t remember where) that reflux is a symptom, and I’ve been struggling with that as well.  Papaya enzymes are my friend!  I tried them Monday night, and they worked almost right away.

IMG_2352

More Natural Ways that I’m Working on my Anxiety

Meditation and Breathing Training

I have two great apps that have worked really well for me.  I wrote about the meditation one before (Meditation Studio), but my friend shared a different one with me yesterday and it made a HUGE difference just using it a couple of times!

The app is called Breathing Zone.  It’s really simple.  It just has you breathe in and out in different amounts and times.  It completely reset my breathing.  Then I struggled again, then I started focusing on breathing through my nose only.  I have also been meditating when I first go to bed.

I took a picture today of myself before I started my breathing re-training while resting this afternoon.  I look kind of a mess (no makeup, hair everywhere, and zits), but I’m just thankful that I have these resources!  They have helped so much!

IMG_2369

Essential Oils
I received these essential oils from a friend yesterday, and I was floored.  She bought me 11 oils and some Stress Away bath bombs.  I totally don’t feel deserving of this.  Young Living EO’s are NOT cheap.  I’m praying that they help me!!!

IMG_2355

 

 

I no longer have a diffuser, so I ordered a pretty inexpensive one off Amazon.  Hopefully it works okay.  Diffusers from Young Living are at least $60 and this one was only $20!  It looks promising.  I will probably buy another one in a few weeks to have one in the living room and one on my desk in my bedroom.  We’ll see.

diffuser

I used to be anti-oils but I have decided that I am willing to try anything and my friend is helping me out SO much with this so I will try all of my options!

Supplements

I take a lot of meds (Buspirone, Lexapro, small dose of Lithium, Lamtictal, small dose of Risperdol, Propranolol, and Gabapentin), but I’m actually hoping to reduce soon because my doctor and I feel that I’m on too much (which I think has been causing me more anxiety).  I will always have to take meds, but less would be better.

I recently shared about all of the supplements that I take (Rescue Remedy as needed, Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Cod Liver Oil, Probiotics), but I have recently added 5HTP with Melatonin at bedtime and Vitamin B Complex.

I also ordered Epsom salt to use with essential oils in baths consistently.  I bought a “Sport” one because it was $5 cheaper ($10 instead of $15 for 5lbs)!  If I find that I’m going through a lot, I will buy a 19lb bag because it’s so much cheaper.  We’ll see.

epsom salt

Acupuncture

When I was really struggling a few days ago my counselor suggested I try acupuncture.  I have never been open to that before in the past, but I was desperate and I made an appointment at a place called Kerrville Community Acupuncture.

ACUKERR

I ended up canceling the appointment when I noticed that they breathing re-training was WORKING.  It is always a fall back, though, if my anxiety gets bad again or if it just doesn’t settle down long-term.  The acupuncture does a lot of good things so it would never be bad to do.  I just don’t want to spend the money now (although she is pretty inexpensive with a sliding scale!).

Bible Study, Journaling, Prayer, Worship 

This is the most important one.  I have been struggling so much spiritually and I talked with one of my best friends a few weeks ago about not totally trusting God because He allows such bad things to happen.  In the midst of my suffering with the breathing issue (it’s TERRIBLE you guys) and having to put the boys back into school (again), plus thinking about the gruesome suicide of my brother and mine and my brother’s mental illness in general, I was just low.  She was amazing and shared lots of scripture with me, but I just couldn’t hear it.

The past few days I have been reading from an app called the First 5, and the study is on suffering.  It’s so perfect and exactly what I need to be reading right now.  It has you read a chapter out of scripture (starting with Job, and I read out of my study Bible with commentary), then there is a devotional to follow and an open-ended question that it asks at the end where you can type your answer right into it.  I am also using my Quieting Your Heart journal that I’ve shared before in the past.

Then I spent some time listening to worship music (which I haven’t been doing as much lately) and it was so perfect for my heart.  I could “hear” God speaking to me again for the first time in a long time.  I could feel His love.  I felt hope.  It’s been a while since I have felt hope.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me today, and He comforted me and was my counselor.  I have needed that for a long time.  Years.  I am convinced that I need to trust Him to be that for me more often.

Speaking of… I decided to pull out a book that has been on my bookshelf for like 8 years.  I read a couple of chapters when I got it but never finished it.  I totally forgot what I read those 8 years ago.  It’s called Forgotten God and it’s by Francis Chan.  I started reading it again today and it spoke so clearly to me.  I’m looking forward to actually reading it all the way through this time :-).

IMG_2365

I’m keeping most things off of my plate right now.

My new focus is my relationship with Jesus, my family and friends, keeping my anxiety low, going to AA (and staying sober), homeschooling Karis, and “healthy” habits that I have been doing for a long time (including gratitude, meal planning, meal prep, self care, keeping the house mostly clean, and one that I have been working on for about 5 months but still have a long way to go… self love).  That is all I can handle at the moment. And honestly it’s a lot!  What keeps triggering my anxiety is trying to do too much (all of that PLUS a movement habit, still feeling the need to focus on weight loss, planning other Balance 365 habits, planning a backpacking trip that I’m not ready for, homeschooling all of the kids which is the biggest thing, etc), so I will NOT make that mistake again, for a while at least ;-).  Now if I can keep my perfectionist brain away!

Night and Day

I thought I would give a little bit of an update on things.

I am night and day better from where I was this time last week.

I have settled into the idea that I will only be homeschooling Karis, and I’ve learned to be good with that. She does better at home, she is mostly independent, and she is fun to work with. There is no stress or anxiety involved in it. I’m looking forward to digging into things with her. And we have a good relationship and she’s now a pre-teener so this is good for us.  I plan to really dive into stuff with her and learn along side her.  And on the days that I don’t feel up to it, she is capable of doing everything on her own!

I hope to do Poetry Teatime every Friday with the girls at the camp.  It will be so fun.

The boys are so excited about going back to school, and honestly they do really well in school. I’ve talked with their teachers from this past year (one emailed me and one I emailed first), and they are so happy that they will be back. They were so encouraging and positive.  The boys will learn and grow at school. We will have a regular routine/schedule every day which will be good for my anxiety and good for my Ethan’s anxiety as well. He needs that routine.

I plan to still do some nature studies with all of the kids.  We will try to take a few “field trips” but not as many as when I would have had them home.

And I am happy to be able to focus on getting healthier mentally and physically. As you know, I have mental illness, and I also went to rehab last fall for alcoholism (which is a mental illness as well). I need to be able to focus on keeping myself healthy and sober. In addition, I’m trying to get back to health physically (using the Balance 365 program) because I haven’t been doing too well there, either. So I guess this is just a season of health for me. Maybe once I’m healthier, I can bring my boys back home (if that’s God’s plan). It’ll probably be a while if that does happen. In the meantime I’m happy about playing with the kids until the boys’ school starts on August 23rd. We were going to start school next week. And I’m looking forward to doing some back-to-school shopping and all of that.

Family camp this week has been pretty great so far.  We have 2 more full days, then we leave on Saturday.  I haven’t felt good the whole time, though, because of my cough and constant nausea.  I’m also really tired all the time.  So I’ve just been resting as much as I can.  We have done 1-2 activities per day and played in the game room a lot.  We have had great meals, fun themed nights, and I’ve enjoyed time with friends.  We have been gone from home for a full week already, which is hard for me because I’m a homebody and an introvert.  I’m making it, though, and am trying to just enjoy the time that I have with my family all together!  It is a blessing to have this opportunity.

Here are some pictures of our week so far:

IMG_2106

Build-your-own pizzas

I actually did the Cross Bows!

The kids love the foam pit, but not as much as last year.

Family devotionals and outdoor worship

RC Cars were fun!

Patriotic night

Patriotic night ended up being indoors.

Drift Ball ended in some minor injuries.

Tonight is Luau night.

The next two days are packed full of fun activities.  Paint war, lake front, date night, hiking, more RC cars, kickball game, dessert, and a dance.

Happy Weekend! Busy Saturday!

Yesterday I met my mom in Kerrville for her to pick the kids up and take them to her house.  They are there till Monday.  I spent a lot of the day today being lazy.

At about 3:45 I had had enough of that so I got up and got busy!  I cut up veggies and baked some muffins.  Robert came home about the time that I was going to cut a cantaloupe and honey dew.  He ended up cutting it for me, then he pan-seared some salmon and chicken breast for me to have over salads this coming week.  I bagged mixed nuts for snacks, made pumpkin steel cut oats in the instant pot, tore lettuce and put it in a big container to have salads, made homemade dressings (creamy buffalo and balsamic vinaigrette), and made quinoa.

I also have peeled boiled eggs (I buy them boiled and peeled from Walmart!) and Greek yogurt to grab for snacks or to go with meals!

I feel like I am set up for success!  It feels so good.

All of this work only took a few hours!  It helps that Robert pitched in!

On a similar note…

I started the Healthy Habits Happy Moms Balance 365 program several weeks ago. The idea is to pick one healthy habit at a time to focus on, and once you are consistent with it for a time, then you add another one. It’s slllloooowwww and hard sometimes. I have honestly struggled with even figuring out what to start with because I feel like I’m not at all where I want to be with my health. I am learning to love my body the way it is, but I know that I have a ways to go in the health department. But dieting isn’t the answer. It’s not healthy, it isn’t sustainable, and it actually leads to bingeing and weight gain. So I want to be okay with the slowness of this program.

Robert and I were talking earlier and I realized that he’s right… I need to focus 100% on being active again. So many reasons. I have high cholesterol and the meds that I was on cause high liver enzymes… since I am an alcoholic my doctor prefers for me to not take them unless I have to (even though I’m not drinking anymore!). Also. With my generalized anxiety disorder and the return of the weird physical symptoms, being outside hiking is REALLY good for that. It’s one of the best things for anxiety, actually. My counselor has told me that she wants me to walk 30 minutes a day and I haven’t been doing that. I find joy in being outside. I love hiking. I have just gotten out of the habit. I used to hike ALL THE TIME. Also, we are backpacking in a couple of months and I am NOT physically ready for that! It’s just the best habit to focus on right now!

My goal is 2-3 times a week by myself and once a week with the kids to do their nature study . I would like to do what my counselor told me to do (every day), but I’m going to start slow.

Overall I am doing SO well right now. I just still have this anxiety. And it’s weird that I’m having the breathing issue off and on.  I know the anxiety is always going to be there, but my counselor tells me that I can get it more manageable if I get outside exercise. So that is what I will do!

Robert also reminded me that usually when I am active, everything else falls into place.  I am more consistent with a lot of things in my life… time in the Word, eating healthier, I’m more active in the community, etc because I’m feeling good mentally!

Working Through Anxiety and Learning So Much!

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…

  1. It’s probably never going to go away so I need to stop assuming it will.
  2. I’m not causing it by decisions that I’ve made… I have it because I have an anxiety disorder.
  3. Learning to work THROUGH it instead of wishing it away will be the best thing for me in the long run.
  4. Giving myself grace is so important.
  5. I have this assumption that peace means that I’ve done good and anxiety means that I have done something bad.
  6. Anxiety comes and goes.  It’s like waves.
  7. Prayer makes a huge difference, believe it or not.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!

Taking Charge of My Wellness Holistically

I woke up this morning (after only 4.5 hours of sleep) feeling a drive for taking charge of things.  I have been working really hard (counseling, seeing my doctor once a month, taking my medication, working with a dietitian, etc), … Continue reading

Happy Monday and Grati-Tuesday

I realize it’s Tuesday, but I didn’t have a chance to blog yesterday so I’m going to share some things today.

Yesterday was a long, exhausting day, but it was great in a lot of ways.  I have made some decisions to possibly help with anxiety and my own digestive issues.

After Karis’ doctor told us to eliminate wheat, reduce dairy, take probiotics, and increase water and fiber for anxiety and her digestive issues, I talked to my counselor about it and she asked why I wouldn’t try it as well.  She read me some studies that point to lowered anxiety and depression with eliminating gluten.  And dairy makes my stomach hurt.  My counselor has been doing this for 30 years so I trust that when she says it works, it works.  Then I talked with a friend here that is gluten free and she said it decreased anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.  So we’ll see!

I talked with my dietitian about it and she said we can try it for a month (well, she said 3 weeks but I think a month is better) and see how I feel.  I can then add them in one at a time and see if it affects me.

So that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m eliminating dairy and gluten, adding in fiber and probiotics (also encouraged by my dietitian), and drinking lots of water (mainly because I’m taking lithium now and you have to drink lots of water with it).

Yesterday I ordered some good probiotics and fiber (Garden of Life brand) as well as probiotics for Karis (just Vitacost brand).  I also take fish oil and a whole foods multi vitamin.

Now the question that I asked myself and my dietitian has been very adamant about is that I don’t view this as a weight loss diet, but as a way to feel better.  I don’t think I’ll lose weight… I’ll still eat intuitively (eat when I’m hungry until I’m comfortably full).  I won’t focus on eating “good foods” vs. “bad foods,” but just foods that make me feel good.  I’m not planning to lose weight at all.  My goal is health.  Lower weight does not always mean good health (lots of studies show this!).

And now that Karis is home I will be better about hiking.  It was hard to convince myself to go alone.

I also did EMDR and wow it brought out a lot of things that I can work on and process.  I have decided to not go into details about these sessions because it’s very personal.  Just know that I think this will also help my anxiety and increase emotional connection with my family and friends.

I’m trying to be the best me that I can be.  Closer to Jesus, positive body image, healthy, feeling good, lower anxiety and depression, better mom and wife, etc.  And I’ve gotten back to my daily routine which helps so much.

I’m soooooo grateful for spring!

I’m grateful that Karis has been so excited about school.

I’m grateful for a way for Karis to study God’s word at her level.

I’m grateful that she got up on her own this morning, got dressed, made her bed, brushed her hair and teeth, and filled out her planner for the week using my lesson plans!

(Yes her handwriting and spelling aren’t great…)

I’m grateful for coffee (even when it’s decaf with almond milk), water, spring scented candles, and my new Happy Planner!

I’m so grateful for the Bible study that I’m doing.  It is more in-depth than any study I’ve ever done, as you can see by my marked-up Bible.

I’m grateful that she’s enjoying school (mostly… she hates writing and it brought her to tears today).

I’m soooooo grateful for a neighbor that is loaning us so much!  We are using her math DVD’s, fraction overlays, and blocks (Math U See); history (Story of the World); and now writing (Writing with Ease).  She is saving us so much money.

Along those lines, I’m learning to do this homeschool thing much cheaper this time!     Instead of spending the $400 that I originally told my hubby I would need to spend (to get all of the stuff I wanted), I have only spent about $125 (Math U See Delta student books, Apologia Astronomy notebooking journal, Easy Grammar and Daily Grams, and some Teachers Pay Teachers stuff).

I’m currently creating a Geography unit based solely on free stuff that I found on Pinterest!  This is fun!

What It Looks Like to Work with an Intuitive Eating Dietitian

(this picture came from her website for Month 1, Week 3)

Have you wondered what I mean when I say I’m working with a dietitian that focuses on Intuitive Eating and positive body image?  Keep reading.

I have been working pretty closely with my dietitian and have been learning so much.  I thought I knew everything I needed to, but I’m finding I know and understand very little.

What I’m learning:

  • She (Tracy) is helping me work through so much more than eating “healthy” (everyone has a different view of healthy)
  • She is helping me determine when I’m hungry and when I’m full… trying to start at a 3/4 and ending on a 7/8.  0/1 is starving… shaky, faint, tired, etc.  9/10 is extremely stuffed.  Also on this journal I discuss feelings, self care, movement, what my intentions are for the day.  She has told me that I am not eating enough (I’m still restricting) and that the amount I’m eating doesn’t make me satisfied enough.  It’s been eye opening.
  • There is a reason for my constant drinking of coffee and Coke Zero.  For me the main reason for my Coke Zero intake is that I am replacing the alcohol.  The main thing I drank when I was drinking was either beer or Coke Zero and rum or vodka.  I pretty much drank most of the afternoon/evening; not every day, but most.  Also, it is helping me numb out some feelings that maybe aren’t pleasant.  So she is having me journal those feelings.  Coffee is mostly because I’m home most of the morning, and I’m just used to always have a drink of something.  The main thing that she and my counselor want me to do is reduce/eliminate caffeine.  My counselor wants me to eliminate it because it affects my anxiety.  Tracy wants me to reduce it because it affects my hunger and satiety cues, which actually means I don’t eat enough.  This is interesting stuff.
  • The main things that she said I should do for my health right now (besides working on reducing caffeine through sodas and coffee) are to add some more fiber (through supplements or through food), take a multi vitamin and fish oil (which I’ve been doing since I was in rehab), and move my body regularly (doing what is joyful for me… no extreme exercise right now).  Joyful movement for me means hiking and walking.  I love being outside in nature, but I don’t like running here because of the hills and rocks.  So hiking and walking it is.  I don’t like anything indoors (like videos, weight lifting, etc).  And I’ve learned that’s okay.  I need to do what I enjoy so that I actually do it.
  • She’s helping me learn to give myself grace with food and drink.  Reducing caffeine, coffee, and soda is going to be a process.  She wants me to give myself grace when I feel like I’m not doing this right.  There is no right way.  Also, I have been conditioned a certain way about food, and I need to let that go in order to learn to eat intuitively.  I have a history of restriction and she says that I’m still restricting (I fill out an intuitive eating food journal).
  • She is helping me pinpoint more areas of self care that I can pick up to help me through my day.  There’s a whole week in the program in which she pinpoints things that we can do for self care.  She also told me yesterday to take time every day to just enjoy something without doing.  Yesterday I sat on my porch without electronics or anything and watching the birds and squirrels while listening to music that makes me happy.  It was so nice.
  • One of the biggest things that she’s doing is helping me work through fat phobia and why I fear gaining weight.  I can tell that I’m still gaining weight (and will continue, possibly, because of my medication), and it is causing me anxiety.  She is working through the whys.  Why do I fear that?  What has society taught me about weight gain that makes me think being bigger is a bad thing?  What will happen because of weight gain?  How will it affect me as a person?  I am so much more than my body.  What things do I have to offer that have nothing to do with my body?  Emily Wierenga says in her book Almost Anorexic, “In a society that equates thin with beauty and beauty with love, we long to be thin, and so we hide. Beneath layers of guilt and shame, not seeing ourselves for the royalty that we are.”
  • “Each person has a ‘natural weight’, the weight at which the body is and feels healthy and is free of risk factors within our control.”  Lower weight doesn’t necessarily equal healthier.  I had high cholesterol even at my lowest weight (it’s hereditary and one of my medications causes high cholesterol).  I know people that are thin and have diabetes and high blood pressure.  I also know over-weight people that are completely healthy.
  • “We have a set point for the number of fat cells in our body and how little fat those cells can contain. Body fat is not intrinsically unhealthy tissue and does not lead to death.”
  • Healing happens in a relaxation response… focus on self care and reducing stress and anxiety first
  • We have different feelings when our needs are met vs. when our needs are not met.
  • I could go on and on!

Through all of this, I am taking better care of myself.

I wasn’t sure if this program would be worth the money, but it has already been worth it and I’m only on Month 1, Week 3 of a 3 month program!  I can’t wait to see what I continue to learn!

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.

Preparation for the Week and New Years!

Having a stress-free and successful week for me means a lot of preparation on the weekends.  Since self care is my number one goal each day (well, sobriety, including self care), I have to work really hard to make that work.

Thursday I meal planned (Meal Planning Sundays post was written about this).  Friday I grocery shopped and budgeted (Grocery Geek post was written about this).

The boys made a fruit salad Friday night with the fresh fruits I just bought :-).

img_7615

img_7617

I finished my yogurt.  I only have 8 jars this time because Karis and her friends had some while I was putting it into jars :-).

img_7605

img_7607

I also made some Elderberry Syrup in the Instant Pot (loosely based off a recipe from Azure Standard).  It smelled so good!

img_7609

img_7620

Saturday was New Year’s Eve.  I desperately wanted to start the new year off right, so we spent the day focusing on getting the house in order.  We took down our Christmas tree.

img_7570

img_7628

We cleaned bathrooms, floors, the kitchen, got caught up on laundry, and the kids all cleaned their rooms.

Then I went to work prepping.

I cut up veggies and fruits for the week.

img_7633

img_7639

img_7636

img_7637

img_7638

Then I packed lunches and snacks for the days I go into town for AA.  This is cottage cheese, veggies (bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, orange grape tomatoes, and celery), fruit (grapes, oranges, and strawberries), Triscuits, and mixed nuts for a snack.

img_7666

Then I baked some Banana Chocolate Chip Power Cake Muffins for the week (and for the freezer).  I use Lily’s chocolate chips and sucanat for sweetener.  Next time I will add a little more sweetener.  They aren’t very sweet.  They are good, though!

I’m excited about these because they are full of protein and whole grains!

img_7641

Karis enjoyed some time with her friend building things out of modeling clay while the boys played outside with their friends.

img_7632

img_7640

We spent several hours with our neighbors and had a fantastic dinner of homemade tamales!

We ended NYE early so that we could get up early to go to church!

img_7647

We got up yesterday morning and went to church… which was a fantastic way to start the new year!

img_7661

We went to Walmart and the kids spent their Christmas money :-).

img_7658

The kids had a blast playing the Wii U with their daddy.

img_7671

img_7670

We ate roast and veggies for dinner, and ended the night with reading, singing, and praying!

I’m so excited about the new year!