This post started in my head as a message to a friend, then turned into an Instagram post, then I decided it needed a whole blog post. I have struggled over the years with “writer’s block,” and I have recently … Continue reading
The last time I wrote, I was in the midst of struggle. Physically I was struggling because of the cough and shortness of breath that I have been having. I finally broke down and went to the doctor on Wednesday. … Continue reading
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.
Right after I was diagnosed with Bipolar II, I wrote a post about Feeling Defective. I saw the diagnosis as a curse. It meant that I would not be healed. I would have to live with it for the rest of my life. It could be managed, but it would never be cured. I saw this as a terrible thing. It almost felt like a life sentence. I would never be able to live a normal life.
This way of thinking has continued to follow me. Because these past few months have been really hard (still adjusting to a new home, depression, new doctor, med changes, new counselor, etc), I’ve been feeling defective more than ever.
Earlier this week, the post that Robert wrote and I featured on my blog was featured on To Save a Life. It was posted on their Facebook page, and there were a few really helpful comments. One comment really stuck out to me (ignore the grammar mistakes…).
“Love your bipolar … I love mine cuz that who im supposed to be, all part of Gods plan. It can b horrific at times but i have to keep saying “it could be worse” … Im alive, yes im soooo off the scale at times but im alive to see my gorgeous hubby and kids!! Finding God as soon as i was diagnoised is what saved me … My hubby and kids are my rock and staying as positive as i can considering lol helps alot!! Bipolar is special … Ur all special …. Best of luck to u all.”
This comment opened my eyes. Instead of wishing I didn’t have Bipolar II, instead of feeling defective, instead of feeling like a burden to everyone around me, I need to love my Bipolar II. You see, without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today. It has taught me so much about life. So much about loving others where they are, for who they are. It has given me a voice to the voiceless in the world of mental illness. It has helped others to see that it’s truly okay to be who they are, mental illness and all. It has helped me understand my brother’s life and death. It has helped me in the grieving process because I can identify with what he lived with his whole life.
God has a plan for everything, even and especially, the hard stuff. Without the hard parts of life, we wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy the good. Without my lows/depression, the “normal” times wouldn’t be so sweet.
Love yourself. Not who you wish you could be but exactly who you are. Right now.
I had my second appointment with my new counselor today, and so far, she is probably the best counselor I have had so far. I’m very thankful that I spoke up about my last one and told the center that she wasn’t a good fit. They paired me with Marissa, and bam! Perfect fit.
Today was a very helpful appointment. First, she gave me a more specific diagnosis based on my symptoms over the past several years. She says I’m Bipolar II with moderate seasonal patterns. She’s saying moderate until she gets to know me better. She told me that she doesn’t want to “over diagnose” me. The big thing with this is that it means there are times of the year that I’m in “remission” (March through July), and there are times of the year that I struggle more (August through February). It varies to some degree every year, but it’s around the same. I also may have good days with-in that, but overall, I have more struggle during certain times. I also tend to struggle on rainy and overcast days, which goes along with this.
She has given me a “Beam” mood chart, and she wants to see how I do over the course of two months. She’s trying to determine if I have rapid cycles. We both think I do (during my rough months), but we’ll see what the chart shows.
Another thing that was helpful is that we discussed the guilt that I feel because of having this mental illness. Right now, I’m up and down, but even on my good days right now I have struggled desperately with motivation. I have forced myself to shower every day, continue taking care of my kids (mostly basic needs), get up in the morning and not go back to sleep (though yesterday I took a very intentional nap… that’s different than sleeping the day away), and yesterday I even baked (with my little helper, Levi). But this is mostly basic stuff. Getting laundry done, dishes, cleaning up the house, etc, are all very difficult for me right now. I also don’t do the things with the kids that I would love to do, such as reading to them lots, doing devotionals, praying with them every day (other than dinner time), doing lots of seasonal activities (I have done some over the past few weeks, but not as much as I’d like), etc. I just feel as though I’m failing as a wife and mom all around. I also feel like I’m bothering my friends and family by talking about my illness and feeling as though it seems like I’m just trying to get attention for it (which I’m not, but I assume people think that of me). I understand that it’s normal to have days in which there is no motivation to do things like laundry and dishes, but I’m home all day every day by myself, and I go weeks and months without doing it without Robert’s help.
She asked me a simple question, and it has completely transformed the way I think about all of this. She asked me if maybe all of this guilt is a result of me not truly accepting that I have an illness. I talk about mental illness all the time. I address it as a true illness when I talk about it. I understand that other people can’t help how they feel because it’s an illness. But I am not sure that I have truly accepted it for myself. I always feel like I should be able to “will myself” to feel better. That’s just not true most days.
The extreme lack of motivation is part of depression. I’m doing good right now to get out of bed (and stay out of bed), take a shower every day, and take care of the kids when they get home. I need to be proud that I’m fighting hard to overcome this, and it may not look like dishes and laundry being done. For now. It’ll come. That’s the beauty of this new diagnosis. I have March to look forward to :-).
In the meantime, I allow my husband to help me (because he truly understands and wants to be there for me), I am open with my friends who are there to support me, and I fight to do what I can to take care of my kids because they need me. I will also continue to share here because this is therapeutic for me.
Thanks for reading.
…until next time…
My counselor’s homework for me this week is to come up with a gratitude list. As I began thinking through the things I’m grateful for, it became very apparent to me that I have so many little and big things that are amazing in my life. I have decided to share these. These ended up turning into a really long post, with lots of pictures. I did this mostly for myself, but if you interested, here you go…
These are a few (or a lot) of my favorite things…
Holding and being held by my love. Looking into each others’ eyes and knowing that we were made for each other.
Knowing how loved and adored I am by my husband because he tells me all day, every day.
Cuddling with my babies in their beds at the end of the day. Talking to them about their happy and sad times.
My parents who have been beside me in the midst of joy and pain, laughter and sorrow. Their unconditional love for their children and grandchildren. Always being there. Allowing me to just talk and be heard. Their grace. The amazing memories I have of my childhood because of them.
Joey. My brother who is no longer living. We were so close our whole lives, until we lost him to a terrible mental illness. I will always love him and remember our amazing childhood together. We were inseparable. His quirkiness, love of music, technical ability, creativeness, love of people, artistic ability, devotion to those he loved, and humor will never be forgotten.
My mom and dad in-law who love me as their own and have taken care of our family on more than one occasion. They have always been there for us in our time of need. I love that they love without judgment and trust us to make the decisions that are best for our family.
My amazing friends. So many that I couldn’t give credit to them all. God has blessed me with friends that I can call family. People who love me the way that I am. In all of my mess. With my weaknesses as well as my strengths.
Mornings cuddled up on the couch with my pup, drinking my pumpkin spice coffee, watching Gilmore Girls or Parenthood.
A clean house (which is rare, but I love when it’s clean!).
A messy house because it means that I allow my children to play and enjoy our home.
Allowing others into a not-so-clean-house and knowing that they don’t care.
Piles of laundry because I have family to wear it.
Farm Apple Pumpkin candle. The smell of fall wafting through the air.
Carving a pumpkin with my family and roasting the seeds.
Family style dinners in the dining hall with our amazing community. Dinners with family and friends in our home.
Laughing until I cry.
Seeing my kids’ report cards and finding that they have met their potential after working so hard.
Evenings spent with my love on the porch, listening to the crickets, looking at the stars, talking about our dreams (and realizing that we’re living our dream).
Talking with my best friend throughout the day thanks to Facebook Messenger and knowing that I have a best friend that truly knows what I’m going through. Being loved unconditionally by her.
Coke Zero (aka “poison”) that brings me joy while I drink it out of my birdie cup with just the right amount of ice.
Coffee. I drink it throughout the day. I don’t think I could live without it! I love it creamy and sweet. I’m finally okay with that.
Plaid shirts, tunics, leggings, comfortable jeans, t-shirts, scarves, Toms, and boots.
Being comfortable with my body just the way it is, and knowing that my husband finds every curve appealing.
Knowing that my support system is just a Facebook message/text/phone call away (and right outside my door), and knowing that they will always have the right words to say, at just the right times.
A new journey with our finances and knowing that financial peace is with-in arm’s reach.
The kids’ amazing school that prays every morning before they start their day, the teachers have high expectations and know that the kids can meet them, and they are truly loved and cared for.
Pumpkin spice everything (yes, I’m one of those).
Classical Christmas music even though it’s only fall. There’s something about it that brings me peace.
Hiking in my “back yard” and knowing that my body can handle a lot of miles. I’ve been able to hike 23 miles in one day! When I feel up to it mentally/emotionally, I regularly do 8 or 9. I also love hiking with my family.
Ethan and Karis’ joy with their new mountain bikes. They spends hours and hours riding.
My love spending quality time with his kids, reading to them, letting them read to him, helping them with their homework, working together to clean, riding bikes, sitting on the porch, lying in hammocks.
Our pup Lily. The funny way she drinks water as she puts her whole head in the bowl, her intense need to steal food from the table (or hands, or lap), her way of telling us that she needs to go potty, her love of cuddling, her need to be with her people, her sadness when her people leave, her love of playing.
Learning to love who I am and how I am made, even though I am truly a mess sometimes. Embracing my mess.
JJ Heller, David Crowder, Caedmon’s Call, Charlie Hall, Needtobreathe, and Shane & Shane… whose lyrics touch deep in my heart and the music allows me to dance and sing, praise and worship.
The courage that I have to share my difficult journey with others.
Hearing from others just how much my sharing has helped them in their own journeys.
My medication because it has saved my life and helps with the ups and downs of my illness.
She Reads Truth, my Bible, and praise music in the mornings so that I can learn from God’s word, praise Him, and talk to Him.
Making homemade play dough with my kids and knowing that they’re not too old for it. Pumpkin spice, gingerbread, peppermint, koolaid play dough.
Season changes. Crisp cool air.
Christmas. I could celebrate it all year.
Traditions with my family. Knowing that most traditions were started by my mom and dad. And the fact that my kids share my love of holidays and seasons.
Playing games with my husband and kids. Simple entertainment brings joy.
The tree that was painted on my wall by the people who lived here before us. It’s so *me*.
The flowers that my husband brings me as often as he can, just because.
The fact that my husband is willing to clean bathrooms, keep up with dishes, and do laundry even though I am home every day because sometimes it just overwhelms me.
The view from my back porch. I get to look at the rolling hills of the hill country all the time.
Our camp family. We’ve only been here 5 months and it feels like we’ve been here for years.
The fact that my husband gets to do something that he feels called to do and truly loves. We plan to be here for years to come. This is the first time we have ever felt this way.
The kids are able to do things that most kids don’t get to do. Zip lines, Nueces mine slide, mountain bike, hike in our “backyard,” play in the river, and will eventually be able to rock climb.
The little house that we call home and have made warm and cozy.
Charcoal, sketching pencils, dry media paper, and canvas. Drawing brings me peace.
Coloring books and crayons. My favorite are Christmas!
Books. I don’t read enough, but I am always happy when I do. Jen Hatmaker and Lois Lowry are my faves.
Hearing my kids say thank you, please, yes ma’am, no ma’am without being told.
The people our kids are, their individual personalities, their weaknesses and strengths.
Selfies because they remind me that God made me beautiful (this may sound self centered, but it has taken me years to get to this point).
My iPhone. I am able to stay connected with friends and family and take pictures of my beautiful family (and share those pictures!).
My semicolon tattoo to remind me that my story could have ended, but I have chosen to continue it. God’s not finished with me yet.
My cross wedding ring tattoo. It reminds me that my marriage is in Christ.
A fire in our fire pit. Sitting in our chairs, staring at the fire, talking with friends. Roasted marshmallows. S’mores.
Camping. Backpacking. Being outside.
Fresh air. Mountains. Hills. Trees. Leaves. Flowers. Sunsets. God’s amazing creation.
Beauty. In all forms. Shapes. Sizes. Colors. Beauty in people. Places. Creation.
Jesus. Life. Breath. Creator. Sacrifice. Salvation. Peace. Joy. Grace. Redeemer. Healer.