Your Help Matters

August 2, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Yesterday I received some feedback from a reader. She said, in part, “I’ve got to unfollow you. Wishing you the best but three years of downers is making me depressed.” After seven years as a blogger, I’ve come to accept that you can’t please everyone. I’ve also learned a lot about how to minimize negative feedback. But I’m in a really vulnerable place. So this one really hurt.

I tried to keep reminding myself that the overwhelming majority of the people who are following my blog care about me and appreciate my honesty about my struggles. But just minutes after wincing from this “unfollowing” incident, I received an email from a friend. She has been in these agonizing trenches before. She gets it. Her words were just what I needed to lift me in that moment. I hope she won’t mind me quoting her here:

Done

July 31, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Since coming home, I have felt considerably worse. I feel like I’m going backward. People say it’s to be expected with the stressful transition, heat, and trying to get my kids ready for school. But I’ve really regressed. The anxiety is worse, the depression is deep. I really don’t know how much more I can take. I feel like I’ve gone so far backward. Everyone keeps telling me I will get through this, that things will get better, and they seem so confident about it. But I feel so done. I feel so exhausted. I feel like it will never end.

I want to be the mother my children need. I want to be myself. I hardly remember what it was like to be myself.

I am desperate.

The minutes and hours drag by so slowly.

I want to be done. More than anything in the world, I want my self back.

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Weary but Winning

July 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm

A couple of days ago we took the long drive home. Back to life. Back to the AZ heat. Back to being 600 miles away from most of my family. I was so nervous to leave my safe haven at my dad’s house. I cried a lot the day before we left. But I hoped that coming home would feel like progress, that it would feel good to be in my own space again.

There is a comfort in being home, but at the same time I feel like I’ve taken several steps backward. Perhaps it’s just all the stress of traveling and having a broken a/c unit and a 99-degree house upon arrival. Perhaps it’s my husband going back to work on Monday and sending my 3rd child to kindergarten the week afterward. Perhaps it’s the heat. Perhaps it’s sleep deprivation. Perhaps it’s my kids being extra grumpy from all of this upheaval and vacation food. Perhaps it’s that I’m supposed to start planning/hosting twice-a-month activities for 10/11-year-old girls from my church at my home soon.

I feel so overwhelmed. I am so tired. I am so weary. I feel discouraged, run down, and stressed. My husband, parents, sister, psychiatrist… they tell me I’m making great progress, they tell me I’m “almost there,” but today it doesn’t feel like it. Today I feel so defeated.

I’ve certainly felt this way before. And somehow I kept going. Somehow I eventually reached a point where I felt like myself again. And I shared this photo to encourage others who needed a boost…

Tug of War

July 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm

This morning I woke up before my husband and kids. I usually do. In that hour or two until they wake I usually try to go back to sleep. Sometimes I beg God to let me fall back to sleep. Sometimes I do. But usually I just lie there and pray… for my husband, for my kids, for all the people who are praying for me. I pray for strength, for endurance, for shields of light, for miracles. Some days I get up, and I feel almost normal. Those are gifts.

This morning I awoke with a heavy heart, with fear, with despair, with bitterness (PMS probably has something to do with it). And I cried and cried until it got really snotty and messy. I am so weary. I am so tired of fighting for my life. This tug of war, pulling me apart, stretching my soul to its breaking pointI don’t know how much more I can take.

The darkness whispers, “Life’s just too hard. What’s the point? It’s just going to get harder. It’s not worth this agony. Why prolong the misery any more?”

My husband, my parents, my sister, my friendsthey hold my hand, they hug me, they tell me, “You’re going to get through this. It won’t always be like this. You will feel happy again.” I make them promise me.  A few nights ago, as we were all getting situated in our beds to sleep, my three-year-old said, out of the blue, in the most serious and tender voice, “You’re going to be alright, Mom.” 

Weep

July 16, 2014 at 6:49 pm

IMG_1222Nearly every day for the past few weeks I have had a meltdown. This is when I weep, usually to a supportive family member, for an hour (or two or three). This morning was a doozy. It almost sounded like I was in labor. My husband was my doula. For I don’t know how long, I sat on my parents’ bed (my husband stood in front of me), and I rested my head on his stomach, letting myself sob and sniffle and make sounds, so many tears gushing from my eyes.

But I’ve started noticing something about these meltdowns: I usually feel better afterward. This shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose. I learned at some point in the past few years that tears really can actually create a measurable shift in a person’s mood and physiology.

In a Psychology Today article, Judith Orloff, MD explains:

After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed [stress] hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones” (Source).

It is healthy to cry. Crying is good for us.

A Soft Place to Land

July 15, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Every day for the past few weeks I’ve had vomit on my mind. And, strangely enough, this has brought comfort to me. I’ll explain.

A few weeks ago, my friend Emily showed up at my dad’s house (where I’m currently staying) with her furry companion, Howie. We sat on my dad’s front porch and talked for a long time. Emily has known darkness and despair. She has survived heart-wrenching losses and trials. She gets it. So she listened with an empathy and compassion few possess. Her sincere love and physical companionship were a bright spot in my darkness.

While we talked, she told me a story from her recent trip to Oxford, England. The night before she was to return to the states, the nice couple who had been hosting her wanted to take her to a nice dinner. They had Indian food. Later that night, just before collapsing into sleep, Emily said a quick prayer, asking God that everything for her return trip the next day would go smoothly. (She had been worried about making a few of her connecting flights.) Then she fell asleep.

But there is beauty in it

July 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Yesterday my mom, sister, and husband helped me with a project. It is a binder full of all of the cards, emails, and messages of encouragement I have received from my people in the past few months, some of whom I’ve known for years and some of whom I haven’t yet met in this life. It also has uplifting quotes, scriptures, and pictures from Pinterest. I plan to add more and more to it as I receive them.

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Stuck

July 9, 2014 at 3:42 pm

A few winters ago, I grew kale in my garden. In AZ, certain crops can be grown during the winter, and kale is one of them. Anyway, as the kale grew, it soon attracted aphids. By the time spring came around, there wasn’t a kale leaf without hundreds of aphids on its underside. If there’s one thing aphids know how to do well, it’s reproduce.

Last Sunday, I learned something new about aphids. A man I know had been in a class with a bug-expert. And this bug expert explained that aphids give birth to live young, but sometimes the babies get stuck on their way out, and when this happens, a group of other aphids will gather around and help the mother get the baby aphid out. I’m not terribly fond of aphids, but this little bit of information made me smile (which is rare these days).

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One Foot in Front of the Other

July 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm

This morning we got up extra early. I hadn’t slept well, and I didn’t really want to get up, but I did.

Every year for several years my husband and occasionally myself and other family members have run a race called the Freedom Run for the 4th of July. This was the first year that my oldest daughter had signed up for the 5k with her dad. My second-oldest daughter wanted to do the one-mile, so (several months ago) I agreed to do it with her.

But last night I was dreading it. Sleep is precious to me these days, and I wasn’t sure if I even had the strength to go that one mile. But I knew how excited my daughter was. And I knew I couldn’t let her down.

So I got up. And we got ready. And we went to the race.

We arrived just as the one-mile race was beginning, so we rushed to the start. And for a mile, I ran (very slowly) with my daughter out ahead of me, saying, “Come on, Mom. You can do it!” Over and over.

I couldn’t help thinking how fitting it was. It was hard, and I didn’t really want to do it, but it was the light and strength of my daughter that kept me putting one foot in front of the other.

Waiting for Light

July 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I’m not sure where to begin.

Two years ago (2012), around this time of year, I first became acquainted with anxiety and depression like nothing I had ever experienced before. After a few months of enduring and trying a variety of natural remedies, I turned to medication. It was a couple of months of crawling through hell while I waited for the medication to help. But eventually it did. And I felt like myself again.

We thought the medication would only be a temporary thing. I slowly (slowly) weaned down over the course of last year. I took my last dose at the beginning of March of this year (2014). March I felt fine. I thought, “That was easy.” April I started slipping. May I plunged back into that dark and anxious hell I never wanted to crawl through ever again.

We made an emergency trip to my dad and stepmom’s house at the end of May so I could have extra support while I tried to get well again. All of May and for two weeks of June I tried more natural remedies (they could fill a whole other blogpost and probably will someday). I really wanted to believe I could get better without meds. When I started getting suicidal, we knew it was time. Miraculously, I was able to get an appointment with a well-respected psychiatrist on June 13. I started back on my meds the next day.

The Space Between

May 12, 2014 at 10:37 pm


 
 

Late Friday night, a friend was helping me through a mini crisis. Just before we said good-bye, she told me something I didn’t want to believe.

I have known for a long time that a sort of “Anxiety Girl” was in my brain, sending me frequent fear-filled text messages. But my friend suggested that I also have a “Bliss Girl” on the other end of the spectrum, and that swinging between the two wasn’t good for me. I was confused in that moment how Bliss Girl could possibly be a problem… what could be bad about bliss? But we said our good-byes, and I went to bed.

Mental Health Update

May 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I wish I could tell you that I feel better than ever. I wish I could be a lighthouse all the time, radiating joy and love and hope to everyone around me. But I’m not gonna lie… this past month was rough. And this past week was rougher.

It’s hard not to wonder if the reason it was rough is because I weaned off my medication. In moments of desperation, I find myself thinking I made a mistake… that I shouldn’t have stopped taking it.

But in moments of clarity, I think… Well, you still had hard times even when you were taking the medication. The past couple of months were stressful with the crazy job-hunt and all the illness. You weren’t getting enough sleep. You weren’t getting out much. You weren’t meditating. You weren’t eating enough. You got depleted. Just give yourself a break while you catch up.

So I’ve had anxiety (and some depression) off and on this week. It has fluctuated. Some days were horrendous (that day when I cried to a whole bunch of people on the phone). Some days were so-so, and some were good, hallelujah.

Magnesium for Tics and Tourette Syndrome

April 15, 2014 at 6:15 am

When the blinking started, we knew something was definitely going on.

I’m not talking about ordinary blinking. I’m talking about excessive blinking, sometimes extremely excessive. If you’ve ever seen a kid with a blinking tic, you know what I’m talking about. Approximately two years ago, my second daughter began exhibiting tics. IMG_0707_2Since then, we have seen a variety of tics come and go (both vocal and motor).

Kidshealth.org describes tics this way: “A tic is a sudden, repetitive movement or sound that can be difficult to control. Tics that involve movements are called motor tics and those that are sounds are called vocal tics.” Tics usually become worse when children are under stress. This is definitely true for my daughter. When my daughter began experiencing tics, my mind quickly jumped to Tourette syndrome, but having tics does not necessarily mean you have Tourette syndrome.

I watch my daughter carefully every day. I notice when a new tic emerges. I notice when an old tic disappears. I notice when the tics escalate and when they subside. We have learned that certain things exacerbate her tics: stress, lack of sleep, food additives (artificial colors, etc.). If certain things can exacerbate her tics, it seems logical to me that the tics are her body’s way of calling for help. It also seems logical to me that something inside of her is out of balance. My daughter would like her “habits” (as she calls them) to stop, and by golly I’m going to do everything I can to bring about her desire.

Soothe Your Life with Magnesium

February 24, 2014 at 9:04 pm

I’ve been in love with magnesium for years. Several months ago I stumbled on a website where a lady mentioned a brand of magnesium oil I’d never heard of… Magnesoothe [now called Mg12], sourced from the Dead Sea. She said it was the most effective magnesium oil she had ever used, and she 10386777_946446232048628_8039968799941556132_nhad used several of the other brands available. That totally caught my interest. And I thought it couldn’t hurt to contact the company and see if they ever send samples for bloggers to review. It was perfect timing ’cause they had just discussed doing that very thing in a recent company meeting. A few days later I received my samples in the mail.

Before I get to my review of these products, I want to touch briefly on some of the benefits of using magnesium topically.

5 Tips for Managing Anxiety

January 20, 2014 at 10:29 pm

My whole world changed once I became acquainted with anxiety. I will never be the same person I was before. But I wouldn’t want to be either. I’m better for my battles. I know it.

72268768989948578_ElZL6iWa_f-225x300If you’re in the midst of your own battle with anxiety, I’m glad you found your way to my blog. I know the hell you’re experiencing. I know you fear that it’s never going to go away. Those fears tormented me day and night for a long time. I still struggle now and then, especially when I let life run me down physically and emotionally. But overall I’m lightyears better than I was when those first panic attacks hit me like a freight train in the spring of 2012. I pray with all my heart that you find healing as well. I have faith that you will. But if you find yourself having thoughts about ending your life, please seek help. You are worth saving. And there is no shame in accepting pharmaceutical help. Medication helped save my life.

On to the purpose of this post… I’ve learned some tricks over the past couple of years as I struggled  to manage my anxiety. I can’t promise these things will help you, but I can say they’ve helped me. This is not medical advice. I’m just sharing what worked for me. 

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