Pull Up A Chair

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 

Pull up a chair, we’ll have tea, and I’ll tell you how things are going.

I still feel light as air, most of the time.  My mind stays quite quiet, most of the time.

I’d like to end the story there, but I’ve been living a lie and I think it is time to tell the truth.

I am not living on easy street.  My mind is still playing games and causing me to struggle.  A couple weeks ago it started with waves of anxiety.  One after another slamming against me, taking my breath away, and knocking me off balance.

Wave after wave.

My mind has gotten frantic.  Harder and harder control.  I am working hard to channel it.  I am working out daily, all through the day.  I am taking all of my meds as prescribed.  I have an appointment with my doctor, the earliest he could get me in.

Just a few weeks ago, I sat calmly in my doctors’ office, all going well.  He said I could wait 3 months to come back…the longest since my mental health issues started over 6 years ago.  I was so excited.

Then the mania came.  Wave after wave.  I found myself in tears while folding the clean towels because I could not fold them even faster.  Then I was at my computer shaking because my fingers could not keep up with my thoughts.  I spent the next week bouncing from mania to depression, all over the map.

This is not the first time I have been through this.  Bipolar has sent me struggling many times, but somehow I always forget how to cope.  I always forget what I need to do to get through the struggle.  One of these times, I have got to take notes on how survival works.

If you ask me how to get through, I can’t tell you, but I must know, because here I am and this morning is better than yesterday morning.  So, I’ll just keep breathing and praying and moving til I get through this Bipolar round.

Thank you for sitting with me.  Thank you for listening to me and how I am doing.  You are part of my team that helps me survive.  Thank you.

One Hundred Days!!!

We are 100 days smarter…well the girls are, I’m not so sure about me…

Today was our day to have fun with the 100th day of school.

We did writing activities, decorated hats, and made a paper chain.

HAPPY 100th DAY!!

 

When Your Legs Don’t Work Like They Used to Before

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

This song is in my running playlist.  It gets me every.single.time.  Because it IS in my RUNNING playlist.

I was not a strong, healthy child.  I was not coordinated.  I was not tough or competitive.  I was not encouraged to become any of those things.  Then, at the age of 15, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).  Walking became a day-to-day question.  I landed in a wheelchair.  All those words spoken about how I couldn’t do things seemed to be spot on.  I couldn’t do anything.

Then a true miracle happened just over 11 years ago.  I went into remission from the MS.  I have now been in remission from the MS almost as long as I dealt with active disease.  Remission.  That is a beautiful word.

Medical Definition of remission. : a state or period during which the symptoms of a disease are abated <cancer in remission after treatment>—compare arrest, cure 1, intermission. (Mirriam-Webster  Dictionary)

A state or period during which the symptoms of a disease are abated.  In the midst of having babies, working, keeping up with life, I almost didn’t notice the remission.  It was just there and I almost took it for granted.

Then, after Sue was born, I started exercising and running.  All the sudden the value of remission and what it really meant, and was, hit me.  Here I was, the girl who wasn’t even supposed to be able to keep up with a household without bringing in help, according to the doctors, past her 20s, was in actuality, working, raising two kids, kind of keeping up with a house (as much as I ever had), and now, learning how to run.

Running.  Me running.  The girl who had always been told she couldn’t do things.  That she wasn’t strong enough for what other kids did, running.

Every step I take, whether it is fast or just barely moving, I do to the glory of God.  He is the one who saw fit to give me back my balance, to give me back my strength, to give me back my legs, to give me back so much more than I could ever ask or imagine.

Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us

He has given me so much.  And I am thankful for all of it.  And now I am dreaming big.  I am dreaming of picking up my pace so I can run with some other ladies in a relay (me??) and even bigger yet, I am dreaming of running a 1/2 marathon in September.  I have even gone so far as to register for the race.  I have put my money where my mouth is and in 245 days I will put my feet where my heart never dreamed they would be.

It’s a long journey, getting from those first running steps with the Wii fit until today, but today found me braving the elements like a good Michigander and getting in a few miles.  I had to do some tiptoeing through ice, but it felt great to be outside.

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The Battle

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

This blog post has been churning inside for a couple weeks.  I realized an anniversary was coming…a year ago today I entered the hospital for treatment of depression, bipolar, and suicidal ideations (meaning I had a plan).

I had spent months working with my doctor to try and get my medication right to get my mind stable.  I took my meds daily, put one foot in front of the other and did my best to be a good mom, wife, homeschooler, and Christian.  It just wasn’t working.

Finally, I reached the point where I needed more intensive help and I needed to be kept safe from myself.  I ended up inpatient again.

This day has been messing with me.  Part of me is thrilled to be able to say I am doing great.  I am.  I have days that are rough, I have days I have to scale back on what I planned to accomplish as I can’t take that much human interaction, I have days that I end up sleeping several hours in the afternoon, I have days that make my head spin.  But for the most part, I am doing quite well.  I am working with a good doctor who knows how to use medications very effectively to manage bipolar disorder and anxiety issues.  I am using exercise and my network of friends to help me with the challenges that arise.

It all works together.

It’s been a journey.

I fought a hell of a battle with postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis 6 years ago after the birth of my youngest daughter. Coming through it wasn’t the straight, easy course I thought it would be. On the other side of Postpartum Mood Disorders, I found Bipolar Disorder, but I kept fighting and I am here. I am here to exercise, I am here to love my family, I am here to homeschool my girls, I am here to fight every day to be here.

Potato Salad and Memories

Caitlyn finished reading her book this morning.  With a lot of prodding.  It was due to the library today.  Our library allows two renewals and that’s it.  Times up.  Hubby says, “just remember where you left off and then check it back out in a week or so.”  That just doesn’t fly with me…read the book…you’ve had 6 weeks.  Get it done!!!  Caitlyn is a very capable reader, but it is not one of her true passions.  She has so many other things vying for her attention.  She has her arts and crafts, iPad games, and way more television options than I had growing up, even with us getting rid of cable.

Caitlyn is a very capable reader, but it is not one of her true passions.  She has so many other things vying for her attention.  She has her arts and crafts, iPad games, and way more television options than I had growing up, even with us getting rid of cable.  Reading just doesn’t always rank for her like it did for me growing up.

I am coming to grips with this reality.

In the meantime, a library trip was on the schedule today so we could return the book.  We got some schoolwork done and then headed to the library.  As I was parking the car, I said, “did we remember the library book bag??”

Um, no.  So back home we went–to get the books.  On the plus side, I hadn’t put money in the meter yet and we don’t live 45 minutes from the nearest library like I did growing up.

Growing up.  I lived “out in the country” where it is still actually “out in the country.”  We had a big garden.  We had farm animals.  We grew our own food.  The local butcher lived down the road from us.  Meal planning wasn’t trendy, it was necessary because grocery shopping happened once a week, if that.  My mom did a great job of canning produce so we had a lot of staples throughout the year and she kept the pantry well stocked.

One food I don’t remember us ever growing, though I think my aunt does now, was potatoes.  Those got bought from the store.  And somehow, making potato salad for my dad became my job.  It was always a big job.  Remember the extra humungous Tupperware bowl and lid set?  We had a yellow one and a batch of potato salad filled it.

I was super proud of making my dad his potato salad.  He liked it pretty bland by most standards.  A massive amount of potatoes boiled, peeled, and cut up, another massive amount of eggs boiled, peeled, and cut up, a little bit of onion cut up and added, and just a smidge of mustard to give it extra color.  That must have been its purpose because it sure wasn’t enough for flavor.

I made that potato salad over and over during the summer.  I loved making it.  I was so proud that my dad wanted me to make him his potato salad.  So proud, but I hated eating it.  It was just yuck to me.  And it stayed that way until I was in my 30s.  I just hated the stuff.

Until I was pregnant with Caitlyn.

Then, I loved it so much.  I literally dreamt of potato salad.  Any version, any brand.  Just hand over the potato salad and nobody would get hurt.

And I still love it!!!  It is even one food I can have on the low FODMAP diet.

So don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here wolfing down potato salad while the family has ice cream.

 

Plants Plants Everywhere

Go ahead, ask me which subject I like to teach the least…science, yup…that’s the one.  Not that I didn’t enjoy it in school, I did.  I worked hard to understand all of it, but it paid off.  I did get to repeat one year..I know, horrors of horrors…but it wasn’t my fault–really!!  I went from one school to another.  School A was a year ahead of School B in science, so I got to repeat the class.  I liked the second teach better, so it wasn’t all bad.

So why the my hesitancy to teach science with the girls?  At first, it was because we all hated the curriculum I had.  It was so textbook heavy and quite a drag.  Now, it is more of forgetting it and pushing it aside.  It must be.  I have  a great program that is very hands on.  The girls love it.  On the days we do science, the girls all have something to tell daddy about what they learned at school.  And yet, I get lazy.

But I  have decided to turn over a new leaf.  So, it seemed appropriate to focus on plants, how they grow, what types there are, and how they enrich our lives, as we kicked off school after the new year.

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Our science activity actually said to make a plant man to grow plant hair on him…why do that, I say, when you have two chia pets in the house just waiting to grow hair?

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See that six-year-old that used to be in speech therapy?  Here she is pontificating during science about SOMETHING.  She is always talking about SOMETHING!!! (and I love it most of the time)

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In this activity, the girls made flowers, with stigmas (sticky labels), and pipe cleaner bees) to show how pollen (coffee grounds and sugar) gets carried from flower to flower.

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Yes, two K-cups that were previously shunned by the coffee drinker, were harmed in this experiment.  Who knew decaf coffee and chocolate flavored coffee would be a no-go?  It’s a risk you run when a die-hard non-coffee drinker buys the coffee.
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It has been a fun week of science.  Tomorrow we will explore how some plants produce fruit with seeds and some do not.

Control I Admire

Being the youngest means always trying to keep up.  Your sisters are bigger than you.  They are faster than you.  Their books and tv shows are a challenge to understand.  Their games are tough to follow.  But…no self-respecting little sister is willing to be left behind.

Patrice is no different.  She tries hard, she pushes herself, she works at it.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.  When it all falls together, there are lots of smiles.  When it is just beyond your reach, there might be tears.

My little girl works so hard to be able to keep up with her sisters.  She does an amazing job.  She finds tasks that she wants to work at and does it with all her heart.  She loves the monkey bars, she does great on her rollerblades and scooter.

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2016-06-15 18.51.09She is always working on the next thing.  And some of those things are hard.  Her most recent thing to tackle is playing cards, Spoons to be exact.  The girls were introduced to it on Christmas last week.  She is doing great hanging in there with the big girls, and the grown ups too!!  We played it tonight as a family.  We chose to do numbers to make up 2017 instead of the word spoons.  Sue was pushed out first, then Caitlyn, next Mommy, so it was just her and daddy left.  They both had 201–it was down to just one hand, and daddy got the four of a kind first–he was the winner.  We told her she had done a great job, but her little face got bright red as she fought to control her emotions.  She escaped to her room just as soon as we stopped talking to her.  She went in, gathered her feelings and started quietly playing with a toy until she was ready to come out.

She stepped away to collect herself.  She has been doing that since she was about 18 months old.  You rarely, if ever, see her throw a fit.    She has always chosen to go to her room and calm herself rather than explode with anger, sadness, or frustration in front of a crowd.  She will come and cuddle with me sometimes when she is sad, but more often than not, I go seek her out to make sure she is okay after she has escaped to her room.

Honestly, her reaction is an enigma to me.  I am a yeller.  My emotions come out fast and furious.  Every emotion I ever feel is written all over my face.  It is very, very rare that I think to step away before it is too late.  Actually, my girls know if mama steps away, they better just give me space because I am trying really hard to react well.

And yet, I have this little girl that is so in control of her emotions and so wise in how to handle them.  I marvel at her and her wisdom and I truly aspire to be just a little bit more like this little girl the Lord has given me.

 

The Ads Again

I think I pay too much attention to random things.  Okay, okay, I know I pay too much attention to random things.  One thing that gets me is radio commercials.  I can totally tune out a tv commercial, by never watching tv, but the radio has to be on for me to function.  It is like air to me.  But the dumb commercials.   You’ve already heard my thoughts on the exercise/antidepressant commercial, now for the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) commercial.

This commercial brings up lots of memories, wonderful memories.  Really.  Stick with me here.

I was exposed to a component of COPD as a kid.  My neighbor had Emphysema.  She had never smoked a day in her life, yet there she was, dependent on oxygen.

Cora was probably in her 60s when I met her.  She lived a few doors down from us in her white house that looked like a barn.

I headed down there once or twice a week to buy a dozen of her farm-fresh chicken eggs.  And she would chat with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being an only child and I had great neighbor friends that I played with, but I was always looking for new company…and Cora was one of my victims.

She always bought wrapping paper from me when I came around selling it in order to earn some prize or another.  She helped me (okay, she basically did) with a sewing project that was well beyond my non-existent skills, she sold my mom her old secretary desk that sat proudly in my room until I went to college, she explained to me that the ice cream man, (Schwan’s) who finally extended his route to our part of the road, would have the ice cream my mom let me order that day and I wouldn’t have to wait another two weeks until he came again.  She let me just show up and chat with her for hours.  We would sit and watch soap operas, which my mom did not allow me to watch, and I would chat and chat at the commercial breaks.

I loved Cora very much.  I was so sad when she passed away when I was in late elementary school–I am not exactly sure how old I was when she passed away.  I missed her daily for a long time.  I just couldn’t believe my friend was gone.  My mom decided I was too young to go to the funeral, but I understood my friend was gone.  I sat and sat at her old desk.

And I still think of my friend often–anytime I hear one of the COPD commercials or when another friend posts on Facebook about their chickens (what is up with everybody getting chickens?!).

Cora is just one of the marvelous memories I have from growing up.  I hope my girls will look back as fondly at the memories we make amidst holidays, electronics, new puppies and the like!

 

A Christmas Visitor

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung on the plaster with care,

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of cookies danced in their heads.
And mamma in her nighty, and daddy in his boxer shorts,

Had just settled the disagreement on what to put in the stockings

When out on the porch there arose such a CLATTER at the front door,

Ma and Pa looked at each other, while in their nighty and boxers, with fear in their heads.

Away to the back door Pa flew like a sloth,
Grabbed up the tennis shoes and crept out the door in fear of someone seeing him in his boxers.

The moon on the melting, dirty snow
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects around.

When, what to Pa’s wondering eyes should appear,
But a red and green tote sitting on the front stoop.

Looking quickly to and fro, up and down the lane,
He knew not in the moment where the mysterious box appeared from.
More rapid than eagles he grabbed it and ran before the neighbors saw his boxers.

He ran into the house and called for Ma.

“Now, where did it come from, who would drop off a box?
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Who gave it all??”

And then, in a twinkling, we pranced and pawed through the green and red tote looking for a clue, oh who of who, had dropped it here.
We pushed and prodded well-wrapped boxes and candy canes still no clue, who oh who, had brought it here.

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And what to our wondering eyes did appear a wonderous and mysterious card and note tucked within the lid of the box…

With sweetness, it said “May God Bless you and your family. Merry CHRISTmas

and Happy New Year.” Yet it held no clue, who oh who, had given this bounty to this family.

It is with hearts full of joy and thankfulness, we say thank you to our mysterious person(s) who with a clank at our door, left joy and fun for us to explore.

Merry CHRISTmas and Happy New Year to you!!

When God Changes a Mind

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Back in August hubby and I noticed my heart rate had gone down significantly, like the low 40s.  It continued to be so at a number of doctor appointments–and this was all before I started running again.

Then a few months ago, my breathing started to cause some issues every once in a while.  It got more than a little bothersome.  And a little concerning.  One of my care providers took notice and the tests started.  I had an EKG on the spot–which showed the low heart rate–and then a slew of bloodwork.  This was followed up with another doctor appointment, another EKG showing a low heart rate, a heart ultrasound, a 24 heart monitor, another EKG, and a nuclear stress test.

In all of this, I had a lot of fear.  Not of what they would find, but that they would find nothing. I’ve had my share of opportunities to be a medical mystery and I was terrified that would happen again.  Really, really scared.  And scared of the shortness of breath.  My doctor had told me I could run if my breathing would tolerate it, but it ended up curtailed.  I ended up frustrated and scared.

All of the tests are now done.  I went today and got the results; it was a glowing report.  My heart is in great shape.  It recovered beautifully from everything done during the stress test.  The ultrasound showed the heart muscle is in great shape. Blood is flowing really well.

I had stressed my need to run at my first appointment with the cardiologist and did so again today.  He said it is absolutely safe for me to run.

Before the appointment, I had asked the few people who knew about the situation to pray for a solution to it, no matter what it was.  I was still so scared of getting no answers.  As I waited for the doctor to come in, I sat on the table begging and pleading with God for this doctor to know exactly what was going on.  I begged like crazy.  As I sat there pleading, I heard the Lord say, in my spirit, not out loud, “that may not be my plan, wait for it, trust me.”  I ignored what I heard.  It wasn’t what I wanted.  It wasn’t what made sense to me.  Plus, I was too worked up to hear that. And trust isn’t my strong suit.  Trust is too scary.  It takes too much out of my hands.  But I knew I heard it and it stuck there no matter how much I begged for my way.

As the doctor spoke, my brain whispered, “but you’re not getting any answers.  What happens now?”  But the bigger words were those of the doctor.  The words he was using to tell me how healthy I was–how strong my heart was.  I heard him tell me it was okay to run.  He told me my low heart rate was no issue, how it would probably get even lower as I train for my half marathon next year.

And I was okay.  Where there had been fear at not having an answer, there was now joy and even excitement and a knowledge that in a moment the Lord had reached down and changed my heart.  He had stepped in where I thought I knew best and put his best.  And it was amazing.  How many people get the opportunity handed to them as they are training for a half marathon to find out their heart is in great condition and can stand the work set before it?  What a gift I was given over the last six weeks.

Yes, there are still questions.  And I plan on following up with my doctor to get my lungs checked out, but for now, I have been given an early Christmas present and I am going to receive it with open arms.

Psalm 29:11

The Lord gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.