What Are You a Slave To?

Last weekend I decided that I needed to treat sodas like I do alcohol because I sure drink them the same, and I decided to quit completely. I have been putting this off for many reasons: I didn’t want to … Continue reading

Happy Monday: Would You Give Jesus a Chance?

Happy Monday

I have been trying really hard to not sleep during the day.  When I do, I will take an hour long nap instead of a 4 hour nap in the morning and a 2 hour nap in the afternoon.  Now, even when I don’t sleep well the night before, I try to wait till bed time to sleep.  This worked out so well last night.  I fell asleep at 9:45.  Of course I woke up at 4:10, but I kind of dozed back off till my alarm went off at 5:20.

I am starting to love early mornings.  I get that time with the kids, drink coffee, do my Bible study (currently doing a She Reads Truth Lent study), and spend some time praising Jesus through song.  I also get to see the sun rise over the hills.  We have a fantastic view from our house.

I love this song and have listened to it over and over this morning.

I also just LOVE this song.  It’s a great reminder that we are loved and He has a plan.  Have courage.  Sometimes we have to wait for something, but He will be glorified through His plan.  He wants good for us who love Him.

I’m a little behind in the She Reads Truth Lent study, but I’m okay with that.  It’s not about being perfect but about drawing near to Jesus and spending time with Him.  In turn, He teaches me about Him and His plan.  Today’s study was very relevant for me coming out of a season of darkness.  Check it out!  The Plagues Continue.

If you’re turned off by all things God/Jesus, I pray that you would give Him a chance. While I was in the darkness I was bitter and angry towards Him.  All of a sudden He gave me peace and joy.  He reminded me that He is in control and that despite the hard (that happens because of sin in the world), He truly does want good to come.  Sometimes we have to wait, but the good eventually comes “Miracles happen when you fix your eyes on Jesus.”  And honestly I wouldn’t appreciate the good without the hard.  He has taught me so much over the past several years.  I love others better.  I have less judgment.  I’m stronger, I have more courage, I am able to be vulnerable, I have grown so much, I am able to be there for others, and I just want to share Him with others.  My family is also stronger.  We have grown together.

Today I pray that you would give Him a chance.  He loves you no matter what you’ve done and what you’ve been through.  He loves you just as you are (I mean, I’m an alcoholic and He loves me).

Have a good Monday!

Scared to Hope

scared to hope

I’ve been feeling good for about a month now.  My “feel good” time started out really strong with lots and lots of energy and motivation.  I really thought I was hypomanic but wasn’t sure.  I just kept going with it.  But also, when I started feeling good was just about 3-4 days after I started a new med.  I hoped that’s what was making me feel good.  Again, I wasn’t sure.

A month later, and I’m still feeling good.  This is just odd because I typically don’t feel good for very long.  Either I am struggling with severe anxiety, I’m hypomanic, or I’m depressed.  Just “feeling good” isn’t super common.  Sure, I have my good days, but this has lasted continuously for a month.  I can remember one day where I felt “down,” but it was because I was really tired and slept a lot.

Previous to this, I was pretty miserable.  I was pretty depressed.  I was sleeping all day, every day.  I wasn’t sleeping at night.  I was anxious.  My house was a complete disaster and there were always piles and piles of laundry.  I felt like I had no purpose in life and didn’t know what else to do with myself.  I just felt like that was my life from now on.

Part of this is because I put my kids in school and the homeschooling season is just over for our family.  Part of this was because I was so, so tired all the time.  I also have hypothyroid on top of my other issues.  Then I was just in a bad cycle of not sleeping at night and sleeping all day.  It’s hard to get out of that.  Now if I don’t sleep well, I try not to go back to sleep, and I end up sleeping better the next night.  If I do sleep during the day, it’s for like an hour, not 4 hours.

The hard thing for me right now is that I’m scared to hope too much.  I don’t want to assume that I’ll feel good consistently if that’s not reality.  I mean, everyone has bad days or “down” days, and I can handle that.  It’s the debilitating depression and severe anxiety that I cannot handle.  Well I guess I can handle it, but I really, really don’t want to.

I do have hope in Jesus, but I am also aware that He has never promised us an easy life and I know that perfection won’t happen till heaven.  In the mean time all I can do is take one day at a time and enjoy the good days.

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:

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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.

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.

An Update and Grati-Tuesday

This past week was lllooonnnggg.  I had bad anxiety and I could barely see past it.  I was pretty selfish through it and have had to repair a few things.  I’m grateful for the grace of people in my life … Continue reading

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!

Grati-Tuesday and Update About Meds

Today has been a very long day.  We all got up before the sun in order to get out the door to meet my mom at my grandma’s house.  They had to watch my kids so I could drive to San Antonio to see my psychiatrist.  I had so much anxiety over my appointment, and that didn’t help my exhaustion this morning.

I drove the hour and 40 minutes to my grandma’s house, spent a little time chatting with her, then got back in the car to drive another 25 minutes to San Antonio.

I got to my appointment early, and surprisingly, they got me back pretty quickly.  My doctor knew that I was coming in because the pharmaceutical company had denied my application for patient assistance (for my Latuda), and I can’t afford my medication anymore at $850 with insurance.

She was so sweet and encouraging.  She told me that there are always options, so never feel hopeless around medication changes.

We decided that I will go back on the Geodon to replace the Latuda.  They are in the same class and Geodon is $60 a month with my insurance vs $850.  I’ve taken it before and I had rapid ups and downs… but… I wasn’t on Lamictal yet and I was drinking heavily.  So I have no idea how it will work now.

Another thing we talked about is my recent bad depression.  She was pretty concerned about that and feels that we need to address that.  She decided to put me on a low dose of Lithium.  I have been scared of it for a long time because I know my brother took it… and he ended up committing suicide.  So anything he took, I’m leery.  But I know he is different than me.  I need to give it a chance.

I was overall very pleased with my appointment and just her care and concern for my well being.  I’m thankful that I had to change doctors!

After my appointment, I drove back to my Grandma’s house and had lunch.  My mom made a homemade lasagna, garlic toast, and salad.  We also had corn.  It was all so great!  I’m so thankful my mom cooked so we didn’t have to spend money on lunch.

Then we drove to Kerrville to get prescriptions.  2 hours later (long story), we left for home.  I did about 4 1/2 hours of driving today.  I’m worn out!

Now… Grati-Tuesday.

I’m grateful that we celebrated this girl with my mom and grandma today.  Her birthday is tomorrow.  She turns 11!

I’m grateful for the beautiful weather today!  The temp was perfect and the sun was shining.

My Grandma gave us all of this food from her pantry!  She was happy to give some away because she was out of space.

I’m grateful for these 7 medications (6 for mental health and 1 for cholesterol).  Without them I would probably not be here.  Even though I am sometimes depressed and anxious, it’s not near what it used to be.  I hate depression, though.  I remembered recently just how hard depression is to live with.  I’m so glad to be working with a doctor that is fighting this with me.  And most importantly, family and friends that are fighting this with me.

I’m also so grateful for my dietitian.  She is helping me so much in my intuitive eating and body love journey.  I have a llllooonnnggg way to go, but I’m on my way.  One day at a time!

I’m grateful that I have been too busy to even think about alcohol.  Having my kids home actually helps this.

Now to have dinner!  Robert is making ravioli with olive oil and parmesan and shrimp and pasta with homemade alfredo sauce!  Yummmmm.

Talk to you soon!

Grati-Tuesday, March 7th

Like I’ve mentioned… I have been struggling with anxiety and depression lately.  I’m not sure if I’m in a bipolar low or if something triggered it, but it’s been rough.  Even last night it was really bad.  I went to bed really early because I couldn’t function (actually, I slept on the couch because I just couldn’t get comfortable on my bed).

But… this morning… this morning I woke up feeling good.  And that’s all I can ask for.  One moment at a time!  Even as I type this I am sitting on my back porch, listening to the birds singing, with a beautiful view of the hills.  It’s foggy and sunny at the same time.  So pretty!  The temperature is perfect.  I’m in short sleeves.  It’s in the 60s, but warm with the sun on me.

The smell of the dew makes me happy… all of these things bring back good memories of last spring when I started homeschooling the boys.  While I had a lot of anxiety about homeschooling them, I have good memories as well!  I’m thankful for the time I had, and I might eventually be able to homeschool them again one day.  We’ll just see what happens!

I’m thankful for Jesus’ unconditional love.

I’m thankful for bedtime reading and silly pictures with my kids.  I’m thankful for the time I have with each kiddo in their bed at night (cuddling, talking, praying).  I don’t do it every night, but enough.  It’s my favorite time of day.

I’m thankful for the time I have to take good care of myself.  This is what keeps me afloat most days.

I’m grateful for 145 days sober!  I’m so close to 5 months!  I can hardly believe it.  It has gone fast.  While I still have days in which I want alcohol, it’s usually fleeting.  I hope one day I won’t even want it anymore!  One day at a time!

I’m thankful for AA and learning so much through the Big Book.  I’ll be writing about what I’m learning in a new post coming up!

I’m grateful for my LuLaRoe leggings that help me to be comfortable.  I’m thankful that I’m learning to feel more comfortable in my own skin, despite a 35 pound weight gain these past few years (10-12 of those just in a few months).  This is also a one day at a time thing, though.  Even last night I was struggling with body image.  But most days I’m feeling better about my body.

What are you grateful for on this Grati-Tuesday?

Being the Best “Me” That I Can Be

I met with my counselor on Monday, and she decided that we needed to do some psychotherapy before we moved on with EMDR again.

We discussed the fact that I have PTSD on top all of my other mess.  We discussed the signs of PTSD and how I have many of them.  These signs aren’t always there at once, but they are definitely there.  She didn’t circle panic because I haven’t been experiencing that lately, but it is something I have struggled with off and on.

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We talked about how I can work through my anxiety.  And I learned that caffeine greatly affects my anxiety!  I had no idea.  So I’m slowly working on reducing caffeine which is hard because I love my coffee and Coke Zero.  I use it to cope and to not want alcohol so much.  I’m so used to drinking something through the day!  At the moment I’m at half caff coffee and I’m drinking less Coke Zeros… including some La Croix sparkling waters and plain water in there.  I also drink herbal tea at night.

We talked about learning to talk to myself in a more positive way and how important that is to my anxiety.  I need to be practicing that right now…

We talked about how to breathe when I’m in the midst of my anxiety.  Deep, slow breaths from my belly.

She reminded me to listen to music that brings about positive thoughts.  This is a no brainer for me because I mostly listen to praise music and Christian music (Bethel, JJ Heller, Shane and Shane, David Crowder, etc).

She also reminded me how important getting outside and walking/hiking is for my mental health all around.  I plan to go for a short hike this afternoon.

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I started working with a dietitian on Monday.  We met Tuesday and Wednesday via Zoom.  It was so great.  I have started the program by listening to audios from her, reading lots of things, doing worksheets.  Wednesday I started the food log.  The point isn’t for her to see “how healthy” I’m eating (I’m learning that food isn’t inherently good or bad), but for her to see how much I am eating and if I am listening to my body.  Paying attention to hunger and satiety cues.  Processing through how I’m feeling about things.  Making sure I’m doing some sort of joyful movement and taking good care of myself.  She also thinks I should reduce my caffeine intake for many reasons (just like my counselor).  So I’m working on that.  Today I had half caff coffee this morning and water with lunch.  I ended up having a few Coke Zeros this afternoon, but that’s a start.

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Today was a really rough day.  I wrote about it earlier in my post Self Pity and Pressing Into Jesus.  It only got worse and I got to where I didn’t want to get off the couch.  I also had a very strong urge to want to drink. I ended up having get up and moving because I had to pick up the kids.  That was the best thing for me.  Then, Robert came home and he made me feel so much better.  This evening we’re working together to make dinner (fish tacos, black beans, guacamole, and coleslaw).

We also got to talking about what we can do to help me not have days like this.  The biggest thing is that I need to be at AA more often.  I was planning to do it online but that hasn’t been happening.  I need the face-to-face and accountability.  I will go at least on Monday and Wednesday… and maybe Fridays.  We’ll see.  Also, being in town more will help because it will keep me moving and around others.  It’s worth the extra cost in gas to make this happen.