My Addictive Brain, Healthy Habits, and Making Changes for Good Health

I’ve written about this sooooo many times, and I have made a final decision (after talking with Robert who is a very balanced person and he agrees with me this time). I am doing something “black and white” (I’ve been … Continue reading

Doing Hard Work

Routine.  It’s so necessary for my mental health.  While I try really hard to implement it during the summer, it’s not built in so it’s hard. I tend to stay up too late.  Sleep too late.  Sit around drinking coffee … Continue reading

Recovering Beautifully

I wrote a piece for Juggling the Jenkins blog.  If she chooses it, it will go on the blog and in her new book.  We’ll see!  I thought I’d share it here because it’s a short version of my story. … Continue reading

God is Teaching Me So Much

I almost always have so much on my mind that I want to write about.  A lot of times it’s jumbled because it doesn’t all fit together well.  So, I’m going to attempt to write out what’s on my mind … Continue reading

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!

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?

Intuitive Eating, Body Positivity, Anxiety, and Sobriety

worth

I remember being 4 years old, a tiny thing, and thinking I needed to lose weight.  I remember lifting cans as “weights.”  Fast forward to junior high, and I remember my body going from tiny to “big” when I hit puberty (in a junior high girl’s mind).  I was bigger than a lot of girls around me.  Then in high school I was “overweight” and knew I was bigger than my friends.  I remember looking at magazines thinking I needed to look like them.  I remember feeling like I needed to go on a diet.

When I got to college, my high school sweetheart (and fiancé) broke up with me and I assumed it was because of the way I looked (among other things).  I decided at that time that I had enough so I was going to lose weight.

I went on a diet and lost 25 pounds very quickly.  I felt very proud of myself.

Fast-forward a few years and I met Robert.  We got married very quickly.  I put on a few pounds, but nothing extreme.  I ended up having 3 kids with-in 4 years (starting 2 years after we got married).  I didn’t put on a ton of weight with them (very little, actually).  After Levi was born, I gained weight because of postpartum depression.  But I easily lost the weight when I was working at a charter school because I went up and down lots of stairs multiple times a day.

I ended up fluctuating a lot between then and a few years ago (between dieting, stopping the diet, dieting, and stopping the diet).  I would also have moments in which I worked out a lot, then I would stop, etc.  I have been on an upward trend the past 3 years, starting with my first bipolar med.  It hasn’t stopped.

The last diet I tried was last summer.  I did THM (Trim Healthy Mama) for 3 months.  When it wasn’t working (and it was a LOT of work… I also had digestive issues because of the alternative sweeteners), I stopped.  I then gained back the few pounds I had lost plus a little more.  Then I went to rehab and gained 6-8 pounds in a month.

Since then, I have been trying so hard to eat intuitively (as best I can), have body positivity, and learn to love myself as is, but it has been an uphill battle.  Most days, most of the day, I’m thinking and obsessing about my weight and the fact that I’ve gained more weight.  I think about it every time I get dressed, when I’m sitting (because pants are tighter when sitting), when I eat (it affects my eating a lot… I often just don’t eat until I’m starving, then I eat anything and everything), when I see pictures of myself, when I look in the mirror or see my reflection on a window.  I don’t know how much I weigh because I threw out my scale, but I know I’ve gained weight based on how my clothes fit and it affects me all day, every day.

This causes me a lot of anxiety because I feel very out of control.  When I eat “healthy,” I feel as though there’s no reason because I won’t lose weight anyway.  When I eat “unhealthy,” I feel guilty.  I have a lot of shame around food and my body.

A few weeks ago, a stranger from a body positive group asked to be friends on Facebook (after she commented on one of my posts).  Usually I don’t accept strangers as friends, but she seemed to be safe.  I’ve been watching her on Facebook including posts, videos, and blogs that she has written.  She is a registered dietitian and she specializes in somatic nutrition and body image coaching.  I finally decided to message her and tell her how I’ve been feeling.  She messaged me a link to sign up for an appointment to have a phone call with her.  I scheduled an appointment for the next day.

That morning I thought that I couldn’t deal with one more thing right now so I canceled it.  She didn’t get the email (it was right before our appointment), so she called me.  We had an almost hour long conversation.  I knew that she would be able to help me, but I didn’t think I could afford it.  I decided that maybe we could use some of our income tax refund.  I didn’t think Robert would agree, and he was out of town, so I emailed him.  After explaining how I felt about everything, he agreed.  So, I ended up deciding to do the program.  I kind of went back and forth through the day yesterday because I felt guilty for using money for my health again.  Between counseling, doctor appointments, gas to and from town, and medication, a lot of Robert’s check goes towards my health (we get some reimbursed, but it comes out of our pockets initially).  I can’t work, so I can’t even contribute to this.

tracybrown

From her website:

Today is the beginning of the end of your struggles with food and body image concerns.  Do You…

  • Think about food (how much, when, what) 24/7?
  • Feel you can’t stop eating?  
  • Struggle to manage your weight even though trying to?
  • Want to learn to eat from hunger and fullness?
  • Need help learning to like your body?
  • Want to discover your healthy weight?
  • Feel confused about how to eat well?
  • Sick of counting calories (fat/carbohydrates)?
  • Tired of exercise being a should and feeling guilty about how much/little you move?

All of these describe my struggles.

There will be 9 group meetings (3 per month for 3 months), 4 one-on-ones (one initial, then one per month), lots of online readings and videos, 4 books, worksheets and food logs (to learn my hunger ratings, emotions, etc); I will have access to her every day via email and phone if need be.  She will review my food logs as often as I need her to.  Part of her services also include meditation, personal growth, and help with anxiety.

These are the books that I will be reading:

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works

When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies: Freeing Yourself From Food and Weight Obsession 

The One Thing Holding You Back: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Connection

Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling

So how does my sobriety fit into all of this?  Simply… I’m often so anxious about this that I am driven to want to drink.  Anything that causes me so much anxiety that I want to drink needs to be addressed.  I know it doesn’t seem big enough to make someone want to drink, but it is big to me.

I’m hoping that this is one step towards what I tell everyone all the time!

loveyourself