Made a Hard Decision to Feel Better

Wow.  This week has been hard and crazy and good all at once.

It started out really rough.

I went to counseling on Monday, thanks to my neighbor watching my kids.  The meeting with her went really well, but my breathing/anxiety was really bad.  The way home it got worse and worse and when I got home I couldn’t breathe at all and just had a really bad panic attack.  And Robert worked late.  And Levi screamed at me (this doesn’t happen… he was just really mad about something).  Kids kept coming in and out even though I told them not to (my kids kept inviting them back in, haha).  When Robert got home I just cried and cried.  It got a little bit better after that, but I was still struggling.

Tuesday I woke up still feeling really bad.  I called my doc’s office and they told me to come in that very day.  So, Karis and I made the long trek to San Antonio (2 hours one way) while Robert had the boys with him at work.

My doctor didn’t really know what to do.  She had never heard of Hyperventilation Syndrome and when she did some research she said she didn’t want to officially diagnose it without further testing.  But she told me that since I was about to go out of town we could try a few med adjustments and see if it helps.

On the way there I came to some big conclusions.  I realized that I had a feeling what was causing this.  It all started about the time that I told the boys that I would be homeschooling them.  And I have been obsessing about it because I’ve been trying to find a way to do it without taking much time each day, but still covering everything we needed to cover.  So yet again I was obsessing about curriculum and methods.  And I literally just COULD NOT turn it off.  No matter how hard I tried.  Homeschooling was all I thought about and all I talked about.  With family, friends, and even my counselor.  And of course here on the blog.  And on Facebook.  I was constantly reading books, watching YouTube videos, reading blogs, following people on Instagram… the list goes on and on.

I called Robert while in San Antonio, and talked to him about it.  He was in agreement immediately.  And the more I talked to him the more I realized how relieved he was that I came to that conclusion.  He wanted to keep them in school all along.  So, we decided to keep the boys in school.  Maybe just this year, maybe longer.  We’ll just take it a year at a time.  Now.  I will keep Karis home.  She needs to be home.  She has bad social anxiety and was crying every day at school.  She ended up with a physical condition from it.  She’s doing well at home, she’s mostly independent, and she is thriving.  I also don’t want to put her in junior high in Rocksprings.  It’s kind of rough.

Unfortunately the breathing issue didn’t resolve right away.  It got somewhat better, but not 100%.  And yesterday it was actually pretty rough.  Until.  I told Robert that I really felt like we needed to tell the boys for me to get better (he wanted to wait).  The anticipation was killing me.  I’m not good at keeping secrets, so that was killing me.  I needed to get it out.  So yesterday while we were driving to New Mexico (we’re here visiting my in-laws, then for Family Camp starting Sunday), I told the boys.  Levi was excited immediately.  He had actually brought his class picture with him on vacation :-).  He misses his friends.  Ethan, on the other hand, was pretty upset at first (I expected that).  He is nervous about testing (state testing starts in third grade).  And honestly I’m nervous about that for him, too, because he struggles with reading and math.  But the more he thought about it and talked about it, the more excited he got.  Then I told him that it may just be this year, but we’ll see.  He told me that he wants to go to fourth and fifth grade there.   The testing gets more and more difficult in fourth and fifth grades so I’m not sure that I want that for him.  We’ll just see how he does.  I really don’t think that I will put them in junior high, but I don’t want to plan that far out because things NEVER go as planned anyway.

Almost immediately after telling the boys (with-in a couple of hours), my anxiety got better and my breathing got better.  I guess I just needed that closure.  The only thing lingering is a dry cough.  But as annoying as that is, I’ll take that over the anxiety breathing issue.

If this cough gets under control I will truly have a week and a half that I can just enjoy with my family here at Glorieta.  I am taking cough medicine and it helps some, but it’s still not great.

I’m sooooo thankful that God made the issue so clear on that drive to my doc.  I just wish I had figured it out sooner.  Well.  I think I knew, but I was stuffing it down, trying to ignore it.  I wanted to homeschool the boys.  And honestly I’m kind of sad, but since I feel better, it’s totally worth it!  That was miserable!

This is a picture of Levi holding his class picture from this past year.  He was missing his friends so much that he wanted to “bring them along.”  He was so proud :-).

I’m happy for the kids… happy that the boys get to stay at school, happy that Karis will get to stay home and by herself.  And I’m happy for me that I will get to focus on self care.  I just don’t have it in me to homeschool all of the kids right now.  Who knows if I ever will.  But in the meantime I need to get more stable mentally.  So that’s my goal!

Oh.  And I’m also happy that I will get to go to town once a week and bring Karis along (when Robert is working).  AA and counseling will happen more often now :-).  Which is part of my self care.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is who I want to be:

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

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

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

This is who I am (now):

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

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

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

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

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

Contentment and Teaching the Kids to Work Through Hard Things

I have a history of discontent.  If something doesn’t seem to be working well or is hard, I change things.  I see the difficulty as a sign that something isn’t right.

Because of this, we have moved so much and I kept chasing something new.  We have moved 12 times in the 13 years that we have been married (a lot of that was at the same camp).  We moved apartments early in our marriage.  We moved twice when we lived in the Dallas area.

This worked its way into homeschooling.  I have homeschooled off and on for a long time.  When I started struggling mentally, I would put them back into school.  This last time I really had no choice since I had to go to town all the time for AA when I got out of rehab.  But it still counts.

I have spent a FORTUNE (and a lot of that in credit) on new curriculum.  When things got hard for the kids or they seemed to struggle, I would buy the “shiny new thing” thinking that it would be better and they wouldn’t struggle as much.  For Karis, this was math.  For Ethan, this was reading and phonics.

We are using Math U See for the kids and while I LOVE it, Karis has still been struggling greatly.  She’s going into 6th grade and she’s on the 4th grade level and still struggling.  She can barely do basic division (2 digit by 1 digit with a  remainder).  So I was talking to Robert about Life of Fred math and telling him that maybe it would be a good fit for her because she loves reading (it’s story based).  Without him even saying anything, I said, “Wait… I just need to stick with something, don’t I?”  He agreed immediately and reminded me that hard doesn’t necessarily equal bad.  And she may just never be good at math and that’s okay.  And it’s okay that she’s on a level lower than her grade and it’s okay to take it slow.  He also reminded me that it’ll be so good for the kids if I stick with something for a full year.  And honestly, I need to stick with Math U See from now on because there is a DVD with a teacher teaching everything (and I’m terrible at math!).  He teaches it in a way that makes more sense than any teacher ever taught me.  There are also manipulatives and all of the kids make use of them every single day.

I REALLY want The Good and the Beautiful history, handwriting, nature journals, and another science unit.  But.  We have all that we need for those subjects right now.  While I love the set up of those, I need to be content with what we have.

I already have Story of the World Volume one… the book, audio book, activity book, historical fiction novels to go with it (9!), the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, and the Usborne Book of World History.  I have an amazing set up for history this year.  It would make NO sense to change.

Now. The reason why I love G&B is because the history covers all periods of history in one year (adding to it each year), it has fun activities, it has an amazing book of stories, worksheets, and a game for review.  But I can always get it next year!  No big deal!  I’m not even sure if I’ll want to change after we finish what we have… I may want to stick with Story of the World!

Also, I was looking at buying handwriting from G&B.  I ALMOST did.  Then my doctor and I were talking about my impulsive spending and reminded me that if I am buying something new even though I already have something for that subject (and causing final trouble), that’s a sign of being impulsive.  And she’s right!  It stopped me in my tracks!  I have Handwriting Without Tears, and the kids even like it!

Now.  Next year I will probably buy G&B because I love that it teaches handwriting through copywork.  It would cut out a step of our writing.  But I can wait till next year!  No big deal!

I was also looking at buying the G&B nature journals.  But I already have some from Simply Charlotte Mason!  They love them because they can watercolor right on the page (the pages are thick).

And… Science!  I have SO much to teach science.  I have one unit of G&B science already (which will last us about a semester), and I also have Apologia Astronomy.  AND LOTS of science books and encyclopedias to make my own units if I want.  I really have enough to make science work for a couple of years honestly.  Now.  When Karis is in 7th or 8th grade, I will be buying the junior high science books because she’s going to need them to prepare for high school (and honestly she LOVES science so she’ll be happy).  But I have a year or two before I need to do that (I can’t believe she’s already in 6th grade).

All this to say… I think I will finally have a FULL year in which I don’t buy anything new!  I have everything I need for at LEAST a full year (maybe more) and I am happy about that.  It’s weird, to be honest.

And… we are not going anywhere.  While camp ministry is HARD because especially lately Robert has been working a ton, we are content to stay right where we are.  We love the way Camp Eagle is run, we love the people (camp family!), we love our home, we love that we live on 1400 acres and there are hiking trails and a clear river to play in.  Moving to Camp Eagle has been the best thing that has happened to us!

Deciding to stick with something long-term actually takes away a lot of anxiety.  I have a major spending issue, then I feel bad and feel anxious after I have spent.  It’s so easy to buy online and I just throw money away that way.  We were going to have me spend only cash but it hasn’t worked out well (lots of reasons), but at least this next check I will only have cash to spend (and less than usual because we’re going to New Mexico in a few weeks and we need money for that).  I think we’ll actually be able to save up this year.  And do more fun things with the kids.

I’m feeling content, hopeful, and peaceful.  I know I will still have times of anxiety and depression (hopefully not, but I’m planning on it happening eventually), but I know I can work through them and just do what we need during those moments.  That doesn’t mean we need to move, it doesn’t mean I need to stop homeschooling, and it doesn’t mean I need to buy something new and shiny.  It just means we need to spend time in prayer and God’s word, I need to work through it, and I need to teach my kids to do both of those.

Simplifying for the Summer

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

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

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

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

So.

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

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

This is the new routine:

Nature walk/journal (a few days a week)

Friday Poetry Tea Time

READ!

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

Table Time
Writing

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

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

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

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

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

Electronic time

PLAY

Dinner

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

This is IT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Big Changes: Final Decision

As I’ve written here, the past few months have been a roller coaster with my mental health, emotional health, and just life in general.

Homeschooling has been the main thing on my mind.

When going through the month (well, over) of extreme anxiety because of meds, I couldn’t function let alone assume that I could do okay with homeschooling so Robert was very anti-homeschooling.  He wasn’t so sure that the anxiety was caused by meds or just my normal mental illness.  He wasn’t sure that it wasn’t a “flare” of my mental illness.

Fast forward a couple of weeks.  We realized after coming off of Geodon that it was the med that was causing my severe anxiety.  I was immediately better with-in a day or two.  It was clear that it WAS the med and not a “flare.”  He was starting to consider that maybe homeschooling was an option again, but he wasn’t completely on board yet.

Last Wednesday I was working on a pros/cons list and it brought me anxiety, then I wrote in a homeschooling group that I wanted to homeschool and I gave a detailed background.  Most people in the group thought that I shouldn’t; in fact, some went as far as to basically say that I was selfish for wanting to and that I shouldn’t because I’m an alcoholic.  This sent me into a tailspin and I considered that maybe they were right.

Because I was anxious again, Robert said that I should just move on.  So I did my best to do that.  I wrote a few posts about how I had come to terms with just keeping the boys in school.

Though I said I had moved on and was trying really hard to find the good in keeping them in school, I still just couldn’t let the homeschooling thing go.  It was a desperation with-in that I really felt that we needed to be a homeschooling family for good.  I can’t even explain why.  It just wouldn’t leave me alone.

Fast forward a few days.  Robert and I spent Mother’s Day as a family.  We went up to the highest point on our camp (the Windmill), swam in the windmill tank, and flew a kite.  For some reason the desire to have my people home for good was just so strong.  I enjoyed every single bit of being together as a family.  I just knew that we were supposed to homeschool.

That night I made my desire very clear to Robert and told him exactly how I felt.  I shared that no matter how hard I was trying to let go of it, it wouldn’t go away.

I was so surprised to hear him tell me that I can homeschool!  I couldn’t believe it.  I was worried that he didn’t really want it so I didn’t take that and run with it.  We had a dinner here at camp that night (our summer staff got here that day), and he was exhausted so he fell asleep early and we couldn’t really talk.  That night I couldn’t sleep.  I was thinking so much about what he had said (along with another issue), and I was excited but nervous that he didn’t really mean it.  I didn’t want to be the wife that pushed him into something that he didn’t agree to.  So I didn’t assume anything.  Monday morning we had several hours to talk.  He told me his concerns with homeschooling, but also told me why he thought it would be good for our family.  His concerns are that I won’t take good care of myself and that it will send me into a tailspin in which I have to go back to the hospital.  But.  He explained that he felt it would be good for our family because it would allow us so much more flexibility which is so important here at camp.  He agreed that them doing school for 3-4 hours was so much better than them being gone for 10 hours each day, then coming home to do homework.  He loves the idea of us not having to get up at 5:00-5:30 every day and the kids can stay up later, which allows us to do more here at camp.  He loves the idea that we can go places during the school year, which is much easier to do because summer here is so crazy.

So.  He was finally on board, but with some conditions.

He wants me to put self care first.  He wants part of that self care to be me exercising multiple days a week, outside, because it makes a huge difference for my mental health.  He has seen it help so much time and time again.  I will run/walk some days, and some days I will hike.

I need to still be able to go to AA and counseling as part of my self care.  The kids will go with me to town and sometimes they will hang out with my mom and sometimes they will go with me to AA.  The ladies there have told me that the kids are always welcome!  We will make a day of it.  We will go to ChickFilA for lunch, go to the park, the library, etc.

He wants me to use my resources to have mental health breaks, including sending them to my moms if I need.  She offered the day that I told her we would be homeschooling again.

He wants me to not obsess about curriculum.  So I told him that I already have most of what I need, and I have a few things already picked out.  I am currently saving up to buy everything at once.

He also wants me to take the kids on field trips.  He feels that that is one of the benefits of homeschooling and that they can see things that they wouldn’t normally get to see and be a part of.

The day that we decided to do this, I met with my counselor.  I told her what we decided and then talked about how for some reason I’m nervous even though I’m super excited.  We determined that the main reason I’m nervous is because I didn’t want to share about it because I have changed my mind so many times (which, I didn’t ever really change my mind… I knew what I wanted but I didn’t think I could have it).  Also, I know that so many people have strong opinions about why I shouldn’t homeschool and that has been driving my anxiety.  We talked about why I value others’ opinions so much.  We determined that it’s because of the years of bullying that I endured as a child.  I have the strong desire to please others, to do what they think, and it causes me anxiety when someone disagrees with me (and I assume that maybe they are right).  I did some EMDR about this.

We processed through the fact that even though I have had some inconsistencies in my life, I have some things that have been steady as well.  I have a great marriage to Robert and we have been married for 13 1/2 years.  I am a good mama and work through things to make sure my kids don’t feel too many affects of my illnesses.  I have consistent routines for the kids.  I got a college degree.  When I was in college, I was a pharmacy tech for 6 years.  We have lived at Camp for 2 years now and this is where we will be from now on (unless God calls us elsewhere, but I don’t see that happening).  We were in our past house for 3 years.  There are some routines and habits that have been in place for years despite the other inconsistencies in my life.  And now that I’m not drinking and have good meds, other things should become more stable.  But.  Life is life and inconsistency can be part of normal life.  It is ever changing.  My kids will grow up being able to handle change.

We talked a lot about how others’ opinions aren’t important and that Robert and I need to make decisions that are best for our family.

So, that’s what we did.

I have been so excited that it has been hard to contain myself.

He wanted me to wait to tell the boys till their last day of school next Thursday but I accidentally let Karis know (I didn’t tell her… she guessed it by the fact that I walked in with some curriculum that I bought from a friend).  I didn’t want her to accidentally tell the boys.  So I’m telling them after school today!!  I’m so excited!

This summer is going to be a busy one!  June 6th we have friends coming here for a week.  Then the next week, Karis and Ethan are going to camp and Levi and I are going to my parents’.  The last week of June, Robert and I are going backpacking in New Mexico (Gila Wilderness) while the kids are at my parents’.  I will be working some in the camp store here.  We will be going to Six Flags Fiesta Texas with my parents at some point.  The last week of July we will be going to Glorieta’s Family Camp.  So we only have a few weeks that we’re not going anywhere.

The days that we will be home, Karis will do her math (because I’m trying to get her through this level since we started behind), they will all read 30-45 minutes and do a reading log, and we will do some science activities here and there.  But actual school won’t start till the first week of August.  I will write a post next about the curriculum that I will be using with the boys.

After I pick the boys up today, I will tell them, then we will celebrate by going swimming in the river here!  Can’t wait!

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

Anxiety.  Story of my life.

I have been struggling with this a lot lately.  I will feel great, then something will set the anxiety off and I can barely function.  Getting out the house is hard.  Being around a lot of people makes it worse.  My brain gets foggy, my stomach gets sick, my cheeks get flushed, my heart beats hard and deep; I feel light-headed. I can’t think straight.  I’m irritable.  I’m hyper-focused on one thing, and I obsess about what people think of me.  I obsess about a lot of things, actually.  Money, curriculum, my weight that keeps going up (despite the fact that my dietitian tells me I’m not eating enough), etc.  I am compulsive.  I make quick decisions only to regret it (which causes me more anxiety).  The worst area is my spending.  I really think it’s a bad coping mechanism that I have.

The anxiety seems to be getting worse every day.  Yesterday was Robert’s birthday.  I had all of these grand plans and he ended up tucking me in early last night because I couldn’t function.  I was proud of myself for making him a homemade cake despite my anxiety, but that’s about all I had in me.

This morning I woke up and felt “hungover.”  Don’t worry, I’m still sober (196 days to be exact), but it was from the anxiety.  I ended up going back to bed and slept 4 hours (right through my appointment with my dietitian, whoops).

I’m still anxious.

I called my doc’s office this morning and talked with someone in the office.  She sent over a lengthy message to my doctor about what’s been going on with a reminder that I live over 2 hours from them.  She said they will call me sometime today and let me know what they can do about it (or if I need to go back in).

I *think* it’s because of my med change.  I used to take a medication called Latuda.  I had to stop taking it because it’s $1000 a month, and I was denied for patient assistance.  She switched me to one called Geodon, and I really think that’s what’s causing me anxiety.  It’s so hard to say.  I just know that’s when the bad anxiety started.

Mental illness SUCKS.  And drug companies that charge $1000 a month for meds infuriate me.  It affects my quality of life.  I know it affects others so much as well.

I’m about to leave for choir. It’ll probably help me to get out of the house and be involved in something.  Here’s to hoping!

Learning to Cope with Anxiety Now That I’m Not Drinking

I realized Saturday night just how much my mental illness affects me these days.  The past few weeks I was in town multiple days (town is far, far away).  Between the driving (2 1/2 hours round trip), the waiting, the meetings, the counseling, the doctor appointments, etc, I was just worn.  I don’t handle being away from home well.

This weekend we planned on going to my parents’, staying the night, then going to church for Easter yesterday.  Saturday evening I was sitting at my parents’ just feeling very restless and anxious.  I just needed to be home.

We left at about 8:00 to head home.  We got home at about 10:30.  Sounds crazy to leave that late, but I just couldn’t handle being away from home anymore.

Saturday night I was just lying in bed mad at myself for not being able to handle things well.

In the past (for about 7 years), I would drink to handle anxiety.  I would drink at my parents’ house (a lot), most evenings (because that’s when I was most anxious), before going to camp events (and I know I made a fool of myself on multiple occasions), and when we traveled.  I would drink every time we had people over (before they came I would binge).  It was just how I handled anxiety; mostly social anxiety, but generalized as well.  And being the alcoholic that I am, I would just drink “because” a lot.  It prevented anxiety.

I remember talking to my previous psychiatrist (well, PA) about my drinking and he would just tell me that it’s common for people who have anxiety to drink to quiet it.  Not once did he tell me that it’s a problem (well once he just told me to not drink and take Xanax at the same time).  Because of this I was in denial that I had a problem, but that’s for another post.

Now that I’m not drinking, I have to feel my emotions.  I also have to have different ways of coping, and my biggest way is to just stay home as much as I can.  I keep a clean/organized house because mess and clutter makes me have anxiety.  I have to leave the boys in school even though I want to homeschool them, and they want to homeschool.  I have to have a quiet morning of Bible study and coffee to start my day out well.  I listen to a lot of worship music.  I have to end my day listening to “Serenity relaxing spa music” because it quiets my anxiety.  I drink a lot of caffeine free Coke Zero to replace the alcohol that I often had in my hand.  I have reduced my caffeine a LOT.  Mostly just drink half caff coffee in the morning and a Coke Zero with lime when I’m in town.  That’s about all the caffeine that I drink now.  It has helped.  I take a lot of medication.  It helps a lot, but it doesn’t take it away.  I see my counselor 3-4 times a month.  Sometimes I hike or walk to prevent evening anxiety.  And believe it or not, homeschooling Karis has helped a ton.  It gives me purpose for my days, but with just her it’s not anxiety inducing.  She’s easy.

I am trying to get disability and I have been denied 3 times already.  My lawyer is trying to get me a hearing date but she said it takes 12-18 months.  So I’m just waiting right now.

My desire is to be stable enough in a few years to be able to homeschool the boys again the year after next.  I don’t know if that’s going to happen.  I will for sure homeschool them when they are in junior high because they will be independent by then.

I just want to be able to do what my heart desires, but with mental illness it’s important to be realistic.  Since I’m not super stable right now, I would possibly relapse.

My goal right now is just focusing on coping and self care without drinking.  It’s a big goal!  With God’s help I can do it.  It’s just going to take lots of work!

If We Bring the Boys Home…

Like I mentioned in my earlier post, I have been thinking through all of the details of what things will look like if we decide to bring the boys home.  I want to go into this with full understanding of what life will be like.

Most days will be just fine, but I would plan for the worst just in case.

What If?

If I do have to go back to rehab (again, not planning on it), the kids will stay with my mom doing basics there.  When I get out, I will go to AA a few evenings a week and/or weekends.  I will also take full advantage of online AA.

At this point, I will continue doing AA in town on Mondays, along with my counseling.  Robert is off 2 out of 3 Mondays so he will stay with them then, and the other Monday my mom will meet us in town to watch them (or they’ll just stay the weekend with her).

These are things we would implement:

“Bad Day Box”

This will contain activities, worksheets, books, etc for the days that I just can’t. I don’t think this will be something that I’ll have to use a lot, but it’s there if I need it.  Kind of like emergency sub plans.

Year-Round School

In order to take some time off as needed, we will school year round.  I think we’ll probably always take the month of June off because of camp for the kids and family camp at Glorieta.

Stick to the Basics

If I have a rough few weeks, we will do the basics (math, reading, writing, grammar, and maybe spelling).  We’ll pick morning time, science, history, etc back up once things settle down.

Self Care

I will need to focus on this every single day in order to be at my best.  This means I will sometimes have to put myself first.  I have learned over the past few years that it’s actually the farthest thing from selfish.  When I take good care of myself I am a better mom and wife.

 

Curriculum

I already have curriculum on my wishlist on Rainbow Resource so that once we have made a decision, I can buy what we need a little bit at a time.  I already have a lot of what we would need, and we would borrow some things from my neighbor.

For Ethan:

  • Math U See Gamma (borrowing the DVD from my neighbor)
  • Reading comprehension lessons using mentor texts, with good novels and reading response (I have all I need for this… post coming up about this). Fluency activities from FCRR.  These are free.
  • IEW All Things Fun and Fascinating theme-based book
  • Easy Grammar 3 and Khan Academy
  • All About Spelling (I have level 1 cards and level 2 teacher’s book; I’ll be buying level 1 book, level 2 cards, and level 3 from a friend)
  • Handwriting Without Tears cursive
  • Story of the World Volume 1 (already have, including CD’s and activity book)
  • Apologia Astronomy (I just need to buy a notebooking journal for him, already have the text and lab kit)

For Levi:

  • Math U See Beta (borrowing the DVD from my neighbor)
  • Reading comprehension and Fluency activities from FCRR.
  • IEW Primary Arts of Language Writing (I have the pdf file for the student book so all I would need is the teacher book)
  • Easy Grammar 2 and Khan Academy
  • All About Spelling
  • Handwriting will be covered through IEW PAL-W
  • Story of the World
  • Apologia Astronomy

It’s going to be very hard for me to wait until the end of May to share here (and Facebook) what our final decision is, but I must!