If I’m Being Honest…

Growing up, I struggled with friendships.  I had a few close friends, but I was also bullied a lot and was just an outsider in many areas.  It got better in high school, but I always felt the need to … Continue reading

Mental Health, Routine, and Adjusting Expectations

This past week has been full of reflection. With the high profile suicides that are happening, my friend asked me if I was okay.  She was concerned since I lost my brother to suicide and because of my own struggle … Continue reading

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.

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

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!

Happy Monday!

happy-monday-beautiful-day

I’m going to try really hard to make this a beautiful day!  Today is my town day which brings anxiety (I’m not a huge fan of doing a lot in one day).  I will be meeting with my sponsor (at IHOP), going to women’s AA, and going to counseling and doing EMDR.  I’m so nervous about EMDR after last week.  It affected me for days afterwards.

The plan today is to come home and go to sleep.  Robert is off so he will be picking up the kids.  He will also be making dinner.  Everything is prepped for him.  Tonight’s dinner is meat sauce, pasta, and steamed broccoli.  Easy peasy!

I hope that by resting tonight I will make the rest of the week great!

So I guess it’s a happy Monday because I can take good care of myself!

Tomorrow through Thursday will be busy!  Every one of those days I will be in Rocksprings for the afternoon/evening because of basketball and choir.  Tomorrow night we have a baby shower here at camp.  I need to get lots of rest today because of all of this!

I hope your Monday is happy and wonderful and beautiful!  What are your plans for today?  What will you do to take good care of yourself?

 

Grati-Tuesday, February 21st

I woke up at 5:15 this morning feeling such peace.  This is a new thing (the past few months).  I love getting up early, making my bed, getting dressed, tidying the house, making coffee, lighting a candle, then waking the … Continue reading

Inability to Balance Related to Bipolar II

balance

Like I wrote in my last post, my doctor told me he wouldn’t give up until I no longer have symptoms of Bipolar II.  I am so thankful for a doctor that has faith that this is attainable.  Until he said that last Monday, I thought I would always live with the symptoms to some degree.

As the new dose and new med are getting into my system, I’m beginning to feel more stable and balanced than ever before.  This new stability is helping me see something that I’ve never seen/understood before.

I have struggled with balance in every area of my life for as long as I can remember.  Food, exercise, alcohol, weight obsession, and even cleaning and laundry.  I’ve had an all or nothing attitude about everything.

I ate perfect (obsessing), or I ate terrible.  I exercised 2-3 hours a day (doing exercise that I hated) or not at all.  I have been obsessed with my weight since I was a kid.  I focused on it completely or gave up. I had too much alcohol too often, or I didn’t have any.  I had a spotless house, or I had a house that was trashed.

As I’m becoming more stable I’m realizing that it is possible to have balance in these areas, and I’m finally coming to that balance that I’ve always desired.

Balance-Stone-Scale

Recently, I’ve started exercising 4-5 days a week.  Karis and I hike for an hour each afternoon.  I love hiking most of all, and even though it’s not strength training, I’m okay with that.  I eat healthy much of the time, but I don’t fret over a piece of cake or sugar in my coffee.  I eat when I’m hungry.  I try not to eat out of emotion.  I eat more intuitively than ever before.  I eat and exercise for health rather than weight loss.  I learned that some of my issue with weight is out of my control because of medication, and I’m learning to accept that.  It’s really cool that my Fitbit shows my resting heart rate over time, and it has slowly been decreasing, which is huge!  I have beer (or wine) a few times a week, and when I do, it’s just a few.  I don’t drink to cope anymore, which was a huge issue when I was in the thick of things.  My doctor told me it’s really common for people with high anxiety to drink to cope because it takes it away for a time.  But the downfall of that is that it can lead to addiction, and it’s really bad for you.  It also doesn’t help with weight issues :-).  There are so many more healthy ways to cope and take care of yourself, and I’m learning to practice those things.  So, I don’t feel like I need it anymore like I used to.  Instead of drinking alcohol, I drink my favorite hot tea or coffee (decaf at night).  I play a game with my kids or Robert.  I journal.  I sit on the porch and enjoy the evening.  I chat with friends.  I go for a hike.  I clean.  I spend time planning for homeschooling or researching homeschooling curriculum (the nerd in me enjoys these things).  I cook or bake.  I write.  There are so many more things that I can do for self care and to cope with feeling bad.  If none of these things work, I take medication designed to help with anxiety instead of drinking.  It’s made a world of difference for me!

My prayer now is that this balance in my moods and every area of my life stays this way.  I have heard of many people finding the right combination of medications and things stay great.  I’ve also heard of people finding the right combination and it ends up not working as well down the road.  So, I’m just taking it one day at a time.  If nothing else, I’m learning more about myself every day.  I am able to control things better with the wisdom and knowledge that I have gained, and I have also learned a lot about practicing self care… the most important part of my day as far as I’m concerned.

The most important part of all of this is that God has led me to the right doctor, a great counselor, and great friends and family to support me and help me through all of this.  I feel that God has a purpose and a plan for all that I have gone through and continue to go through.  I have seen Him work in my life and the lives of my friends because of my illness.

Being this open and vulnerable is really hard sometimes.  I have the fear of what people will think of me.  But I have found over time that vulnerability is courage, and that courage is what helps others.  It’s worth it if I help one person to feel encouraged through my vulnerability.

Hypomania, Depression, Anxiety, and Self Care

IMG_2706 On our hike yesterday on a trail at camp.

This past week was great in a lot of ways, but discouraging in some ways.  I was hoping that by quitting my job my anxiety and depression would just disappear.  That I would feel as I did before I started working.  I was so “on top” of things.  I followed a schedule and specific routine every day.  I got up at 6:15 with no trouble.  I was showered and ready (make up and dried hair) by the time we started school.  While Karis was doing her independent work, I was cleaning and doing laundry.  The house was always spotless and the laundry was always caught up.  I made dinner every night and even baked bread a few times a week.  I also made more breakfasts from scratch.  I was just on top of everything.

This week was not that way.  I found myself taking naps every morning while Karis was doing her independent work.  I was just so tired.  I could barely keep my eyes open.  I did laundry, but I didn’t stay on top of it like I did before.  I cleaned up the house, but it wasn’t spotless all the time.  And luckily we ate all meals in the dining hall or we would have been having easy meals like mac n cheese or a frozen dinner.

I talked to my counselor about it last week and she thinks maybe I was having some hypomania the few weeks before I started working.  And a week into working I went down hill (which is normal after hypomania).  It’s discouraging, but it’s also encouraging in some ways. I’m beginning to learn what “normal” is.  Normal is doing some laundry and cleaning up the house some, but it’s not perfection.  I was feeling like I was doing everything perfectly the weeks before I started working, and that can only last so long.  It’s not normal to do everything perfectly.  And it’s okay that I’m not perfect.  I was trying to catch up on sleep this past week, and I’m feeling better now.  I didn’t sleep much for over a month, so it just caught up to me.  It’s okay.  It’s normal to not have a spotless house all the time.

I want to get back into routine this week (meaning no nap every morning), but I don’t plan on sticking to my schedule completely.  I can chill out a little and still follow a routine.

On another note.  I thought I would share something that I’ve been holding back for a while because I thought it made me less of a person.  I have decided to start working towards getting disability (knowing I will probably have to get a lawyer to do this).  I’m actually already on the second step.  I have an appointment with their psychiatrist on the 19th.  I have tried and tried and tried to work, and every single time I do, I end up having to quit because of depression, severe anxiety, and panic attacks.  These things affect my ability to do my job and live my life.  I am coming to terms with the fact that I just can’t work.  Through this process, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I have a debilitating illness that affects my life in every way.  It can be frustrating to say the least because I want to work.  I want to contribute.  I want to be successful at something.  But I’m learning that it’s not something I can do.  I think I’m learning to be okay with it.  I’m submitting to the fact that I have done my best, and now I can move forward.

My goal for the new year is to learn to live this life to the fullest, and part of that is coming to terms with my illness and learning how to take better care of myself.

Self care for me is routine but not a rigid schedule.  It’s hiking sometimes but not obsessively.  It’s showering and getting ready but sometimes just getting dressed and going about my day.  It’s allowing my house to be messy sometimes but keeping it mostly clean (because when it’s too messy I feel anxious).  It’s learning balance.  Eating for enjoyment and for nourishment.  It’s homeschooling my daughter.  It’s baking things from scratch sometimes and buying baked foods sometimes.  It’s drinking hot tea at the end of the day.  It’s playing a game with my family.  It’s being with my camp family even when I don’t feel like leaving my house.  It’s reaching out and loving others.  It’s spending time in the word but not feeling guilty when I miss out that day.  It’s worshipping my Savior out of love and adoration for Him.  It’s realizing that He has a plan and a purpose for every thing.

If I stick to self care every single day (in some shape or form), I am at my best.  I believe that self care is one of the most important things when it comes to mental illness.  If I’m not taking care of myself, I struggle and become anxious and depressed.  It takes a LOT of work to take care of myself some days.  My desire is to reach out to others and love them where they are.  But I must first love and take care of myself.  I used to think this sounded so selfish.  We’re always taught to love others more than we love ourselves.  I’m learning that I can’t pour from an empty cup.  If I’m not taking care of myself then I can’t take care of my family or be there for friends.

I am so convinced that self care is of utmost importance that every single day I ask friends in a small group that I started what they are doing for self care.  It makes every one stop and think about actually taking care of themselves versus just going about the day feeling empty.

How will you take care of yourself today?

Vulnerability is Courage

IMG_2714

Being vulnerable is hard, especially for someone who is a people pleaser.  After I share something deep and hard, I always wonder what people are going to think.  I make assumptions of what certain individuals are thinking or will say, and it can cause anxiety.  But, I have realized that vulnerability makes me stronger.  Over time, I care less and less about what people think or are going to say because I know God has called me to be vulnerable.  It’s in the moments of vulnerability that He is glorified through me and lives are affected.

I share for many reasons.  The two main reasons are because it helps me, and it helps others.

When I share, it helps me to be me.  I am an open person and always have been.  As time as gone on, I have realized that it’s okay to be me.  I will never change.  It helps me because often I have a lot on my mind and I’m able to get it all out.  It is therapeutic for me.

It also helps me because others know how to pray for me and encourage me.  I will be real here and say I need that.

It helps others because they feel less alone in their struggle.  I am often told that I am brave, courageous, and strong; but I just feel like I’m doing what God has called me to do.  I am often private messaged and told that what I shared spoke directly to someone and they are struggling.  They need to know that other people struggle too.  So often people put on a front that everything is perfect in their lives.  The “Facebook” or “Instagram” mentality.  It makes people feel isolated and alone.  When someone shares the “real” in their life, people feel less alone.  I only hope that people see Jesus in me as I’m being real.  I don’t ever want the focus to be on me but on what He is doing in my life and through me.  He allows all of this for His glory.

I would encourage you to be vulnerable today.  Whether it’s in a blog or on Facebook, or even with a trusted friend.  Be courageous.