A Nibble Here A Nibble There

A nibble here, a bite there can’t hurt, can it?  Why yes, yes it can.  As you may know from the world of dieting, it is important to keep track of everything that passes our lips.  I have always struggled to count those, but lately those bits here and there have gotten me in trouble.  Not on the scale, that is finally headed in the right direction (down 15 lbs), but in some health issues.

I know I have mentioned the low FODMAP diet before, but here it is again.  I have had stomach issues for the last 15 years.  I’ve tried medication.  I’ve tried surgery.  Nothing helped.  And my small attempts at figuring it out via diet modification were unsuccessful.  Well recently I figured out that sugar was a big issue, but I didn’t know which sugars it was exactly or how to figure out how to figure it out.

One day I was whining in my Facebook fitness group and a wonderful lady mentioned the low FODMAP diet.  I tried really hard to brush it off.  I didn’t want it to be an issue with my nutrition, but the next day was so bad pain and nausea wise, I knew I had to give this diet a chance.  So, the next day, I did.  And by that evening I felt quite a bit better…and each day that week was an improvement…I couldn’t argue with the evidence, it was apparent this was the answer to my 15 year journey.

And the beginning of the rest of my foreseeable future.

Foods are broken into low FODMAP (good) and high FODMAP (bad) groups. I depend on this list to guide me on this new road.  FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols, meaning short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols.  That part doesn’t mean much to me, what does are my food lists.  I have certain fruits I can have (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) and others I can not (apricots–still mourning that loss) among others.  It is the same for veggies (green beans/carrots).  Some cheeses are good, others are a total no.  Wheat flour is not allowed, so add gluten as another consideration.  Sugar is definitely the issue I thought it was. Garlic and onions are two others that are high on the list of no-nos.

All of it is a big adjustment.  And honestly, I think I am doing okay with the adaptation.  I have given up a lot of foods (don’t even talk to me about the pizza the rest of the family is having tonight) and started eating a lot more of others.  I even had my doctor look over it to make sure it was not eliminating necessities.  She was fine with the diet, just sad for me that avocado, mangoes, and garlic are on the don’t touch list. It is not sitting down and eating the wrong foods that get me in trouble, it’s the crumb here and the crumb there.  I really am trying not to upend my entire family’s eating, so the forbidden foods are still around…and the Costco muffin crumbs are undoing me today.  I don’t even like the muffins that much, but the kids keep leaving uneaten portions behind and it is so hard to outright throw the food away, but I am getting better at it.

I am thrilled with how much better I feel overall, but I am a slow learner.  I have a couple good days and I think…eating this can’t make my stomach hurt that badly…and I am proven wrong again.  Over and over.  I feel bad for those friends and family members who keep listening to me say how I messed up again.  But I keep trying and at least now there is less time whining about the pain and not knowing what is causing it.

There is also always the weight loss to make me smile.  My wedding ring is now loose on my finger, my jeans are no longer tight, and I have lost an inch in my waist in just the last two weeks!

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Bit by bit…progress is being made…

Recovery Hangover

I don’t know what it is like to struggle with addiction, but I do, I think, know what it is to recover.

I’ve been doing just that since March.  And it has been great.  I have been reconnecting with people as not just Charity in Bipolar Disorder crisis, but as Charity–the person, friend, wife, and daughter.  It has been lovely.

I’ve also been able to reconnect with other parts of my life and take care of things that were pushed aside by the overwhelming darkness the Bipolar had been.  I’ve been exercising, not to survive depression or mania, but to strengthen my body.  I’ve been figuring out my digestive-health issues, and in the process losing weight.  I’ve been getting the correct treatment for a running injury I sustained some time ago.

It has all been great.  It has all been lovely.

And I have been seeing a lot of success.  I’ve lost 14 lbs.  I’ve lost 2.5 inches in my waist and hips alone.  I have been feeling good about it.  Great, really.

Then tonight.

I got irrationally angry about something.  My foot hurt so bad we had to cut therapy short.  I went to try on dresses and was sickened at how fat and slobby my body is.

All I want to do is cry.

I know the success I have seen.  I know the process is going to take awhile, but I still wanted to throw in the towel–and I would have if it weren’t for my stomach.

I still just want to cry.

For no good reason.

I think I have a recovery hangover.

Oh My Heart

Friday was my birthday.  It was a glorious day, so my girls and I headed out to a local park that I just love.

After I did some cleaning around the house.

I enjoyed every minute of both.

You see, about 20 years ago there were days I only dreamed of doing either thing.  I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in my teens.  It was a bumpy ride.  There were hospital stays, 15 of them to be exact.  There were medication injections, a cane, a walker, a wheelchair, car hand controls.  Did I mention it was a bumpy ride?  I was told by doctors that things would probably get worse.  It was pretty bleak.

And then a friend introduced me to Dr. R–a neurologist who specialized in MS.  Things changed.  He took care of medical needs, that previously landed me in the hospital, in his clinic. Medication needs that had previously taken me out of my life for days at a time, now took 3 hours of my time every three weeks.  Something else amazing also took place during my appointments with Dr. R–he listened, he worked to improve my quality of life, and he cared.  When my now hubby proposed–Dr. R  and his staff worked to get me  as healthy and as strong as possible so I could enjoy my wedding.

Through Dr. R encouragement and consistent treatment of the MS, I began to have hope my hubby and I could have a family.  Up until Dr. R, I was so afraid of my children having a weak mom and possibly MS themselves, that I refused to consider having a family.  Dr. R showed me MS was treatable, manageable, and not a death sentence.
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The MS receded a bit, and hubby and I had Caitlyn, then Sue, and finally Patrice.  And haven’t required any treatment of the MS in 10  years.  During my last appointment with Dr. R, I asked him how this was possible.  He said, “well maybe you have a course of MS.”  To which I laughed.  Fifteen hospital stays, 2 for a month each, years of steroid treatments, hand controls on my car and in and out of a wheelchair…mild!  “Well, he said, we know hormones play a roll in MS starting and they can play a roll in MS stopping.”

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I now exercise a lot, chase my kids around, homeschool my kids, am working on getting back to running…all things I personally never dreamed of doing…all because of the confidence Dr. R gave me to step out of my fears.

This post has taken me a week to write.  In part because I wanted it to be just perfect, in part because I never wanted to write it.  You see, I found out last week that Dr. R passed away.  I haven’t seen him in quite a few years due to the MS being in remission, but I always knew he would be there if I needed him.  And now he’s not.  My heart breaks for his family, my heart breaks for the MS community, and my heart breaks for me.

What will we do without Dr. R?




Can’t You Just Be

I am currently very excited to be overhauling my diet, super upping my exercise, and trying to reclaim my body pre-stupid-psych-meds.

After 15 years of medications, surgery, and the like, I have finally found a diet that controls my stomach pain and is taking off the weight.  I didn’t want to change my diet, but the pain was making it inevitable–relief came when someone introduced me to the Low FodMap diet.  It is a fair amount limiting concerning on what I can eat, but the fact that it no longer hurts my stomach to have the girls hug me is huge–stupendous.

Bonus–the weight I put on while taking some of the psych meds is falling off–currently at the rate of a pound a day.

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I have the success of the FodMap diet and some big dreams that continued me on my path of exercising consistently.  I am partnering with a friend to do the Beachbody workout PiYo six days a week, with an overall goal of being certified to teach PiYo live a year from now.  I continue to love my FitBit and work toward my minimum daily target of 10,000 steps.  I got a new model, the Alta, for Mother’s Day and it is taking me a bit to get used to what it credits as a step.  The zip counted just about any movement.  The Alta is a little more particular.

I love PiYo, but soon I am going to start another workout. T25.  It was my birthday present to me.  I am very focused on my physical health right now.

And it feels great!

Someone dear to me said the other day, “You’re either totally down and out, no moving, no nothing, or you’re all the exercise, all the activity.  Can’t you just be somewhere in the middle?”

That question, to me, was very telling on what it is like to live life with me.  There are constant fluctuations–often big fluctuations.  I try to tame them, really I do, and I thought I had done a better job than I apparently have.  The ups and downs can be intense–rapid, and hard to follow, but I hope for those who are around me, that it is worth the ride!!!

There is an Other Side

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety came with her birth:

Leah at park 2010

And then, the bumpiest ride of our entire familys’ lives–bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder.  It’s been oh so hard.  Four hospital stays, countless psychiatrist appointments, and innumerable medications.  There were blips of improvement, but then the darkness would descend again.

Hard is an understatement.

It all landed me in a partial hospitalization program 3 weeks.  There, I learned coping skills and worked with a doctor who knew his medications, and fought to get me one that we found actually worked!!!

I’ve been smiling ever since.  That was two months ago.  And I am still smiling.  that is huge.  Really, really huge.

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Keep fighting whatever battle you’ve been handed.  There is hope on the other side.

Five Years it has Been

Patrice will have her kindergarten graduation at homeschool co-op next week.  I truly cannot believe it.  She is my baby.  How can she be knocking on the door of 6 years old?  That seems so old, so grown up.

Right now, she still has the pudgy little fingers that wrap around mine.  She still makes up words or stumbles upon her own pronunciation of those I say effortlessly.

But I suspect a lot of that will fall away this summer as we get closer to that big 6 birthday.

And I am sad.

I am also sad that it has taken until this month–April–to get to a point where my Bipolar seems to be under control.  It seems the meds might finally be right, though tweaking is still being done, I like the therapist I am working with, I am finally getting stronger.  I still feel fragile and I am scared every day that things will get bad again, but so far, I am holding my own.

It has taken 5 years.  Five years it has been since we brought home baby Patrice and my personal descent into hell began, and a myriad of struggles for my family also commenced.

Thankfully I feel like I remember those 5 years, they are not blanked out; unfortunately, they are muddied with the depression, mania, anxiety, and medication side effects.  There is a veil, a haze, I can never un-remember.  Five years it has been.

I am thankful for the time now of clarity and “stability”, I am, but I am sad about the last five years.  There is no cleaning them up, they will always be muddy, but they are mine and my family, part of the fabric of our 5 years .

Checking it Out

Our zoo membership is one of the best investments we make each year.  We live very close to the zoo and love taking a couple hours at a time to check out parts of it at a time.

Last night we checked the long awaited, all new penguin exhibit.  And to say it is spectacular is an understatement.  Check out these pictures to see it through the eyes of 9 year old Caitlyn and 8 year old Sue.

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*very realistic picture

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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*very realistic picture, not an actual animal

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The entire experience was phenomenal, minus the grumpy 5 year old.  It was truly an experience, not simply a display.  When you were walking from area to area, it was built to be like a ship, complete with the waves misting on you and the ship “tossing” around.  We had to leave early, due to said 5 year old, and the 9 year old was so upset.  I had to remind her a few times that we were going to go back…I promise!

The zoo really did a fantastic job with their newest display!

Reclaiming Me

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.

Depression is like other illnesses; the longer it goes on, the worse the symptoms are.  There are lots of twists and turns when it goes on for a long time.  For example, when this last depression started, it was like my others in that I fought it with exercise and movement.  Unlike many other people dealing with depression, I didn’t sleep more, if anything I slept less.  I didn’t move less, I moved more, I struggled to stop.  But, as it continued, the depression wore me down, until I found myself hating the thought of the exercise, and especially the energy it would take from me.  I slept more and more as my brain was less and less capable of doing things I once did with ease.

But then my new medication started to work, and layer by layer the depression began to fall away.  I found myself setting aside some activities that I had clung to during the depression and I began picking up things I had lost in the darkness.

I started with walking.  A bit at a time.  Outside.  And then back on the treadmill for miles at a time.  I felt myself reclaiming me…bit by bit.

But there was one activity I still hadn’t tackled–my beloved exercise PiYo.  I kept it at arms length for reasons I can’t explain…until Sunday.  I found myself reaching out my my friend who has encouraged me and taught me so much about exercise.  We decided to restart the program Monday (yesterday) and we did!!!

And I started singing this.

Mania–My Facts

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.

Recently a therapist did something no one had ever done before.  She asked me what depression and mania looked like in my life–not the books, not the articles, not the assumptions, but my life…what did I walk through.

That last notable mania spell was a couple years ago, but there were a number of things I could tell her about mania looks in my life.

My mania doesn’t haunt me very often.  It, unlike depression, is easily controlled by medication.  But it does peek through sometimes.  This last Thursday was one of those times.  I noticed later in the day that my brain was getting noisier and it was harder to sit still.  I was constantly looking for something to do.  And it was harder to keep track of my thoughts.  They weren’t fragmented, they were just a little harder to keep up with…each seemed to jump to another topic.

Friday morning, it felt like the mania was coming, a wave of it would broadside my mind, but then it would recede.  As the morning continued, the waves were coming and staying.  The waves of busyness were not going away of their own accord.  I reached out to a friend who advised me to contact my doctor.  I heard back from my doctor in record time.  She increased one of my medications and offered me an appointment for Monday afternoon.  I took both.

And then I started moving.  Mania comes with a lot of energy.  And grumpiness.  I repeat to myself over and over what I should do next to channel both…first, must clean house…all laundry must be done and folded.  Kitchen must be cleaned up, sweeping must be done.  When all house tasks, including homeschooling, were done, I started walking.  A lot.

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Saturday, I continued with the energy.  I am tired, but it feels like something is chasing me–if I stop I will fall apart, so no stopping.  It’s only been a day, but I can’t really tell you what I did.  My feet were protesting the walking of Friday, so my steps were a little slower, but I still made my mark.

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I did clean the fridge and I am so proud to say Caitlyn came in and offered to help me.  She cheerfully scrubbed shelves and drawers as I emptied areas and refilled places as she cleaned them.

Today my mind has been quiet.  I sat calmly through an hour+ service, I sat in a chair to help the girls with their Bible verses for AWANA.  I am sitting here typing this post.  That is something I could not have done the last few days.  I still did pretty well on my steps…I decided to keep one thing of this last mania stretch…an hour of walking…

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Mania does not look like the tv shows.  It is different for each and every person that lives with bipolar.  Mine tends to be shorter and easily treated.  It does not come with giddiness or an overly joyful persona, it tends to come with a fair amount of anger.  There is an increased desire to spend.  I try to stay away from stores (and amazon) when things are moving too fast.  If I absolutely must go to the store, I have a pre-made list in hand and focus all my energy on staying as close to the items written down as absolutely possible.  My mind comes up with a million projects I want to do.  I used to drag the girls into all those projects, but now I try to let them direct what they get involved in with me.  It does get harder and harder to control all of these areas as the mania continues.  I get grouchier, staying with the list seems impossible, and I lose my ability to complete any of my projects, but I do try.  I really do try.

Again, mania is different for each person.  I have a team of people that know what mania looks like for me, and how they can help me to keep everything as even keeled as possible.

Those people make all the difference.

Easing Back In

As you know, I dealt with months and months  of a depressive episode of bipolar.  Praise the Lord, I am coming out of it.  My mind is quiet–there is no depression or mania.  Just quiet.  And it has been beautiful.

But there have been some things that surprised me.  I have found I am not jumping back into activities that I did before or during the depression quite as easily as I thought I would.

In previous depressions, exercise has been one of my main weapons to fight the darkness, but as this recent one wore on, I lost all interest in the treadmill, any classes at the YMCA, or videos I had been doing at home.  I went from exercise, exercise, exercise, to nothing–absolutely nothing.  I assumed that when the depression ended, I would get right back into all of it–but I have found it to be a very slow process.  I, just a week ago, started walking again, shooting to get my 10,000 steps in daily.  I have not yet popped in any videos and the social anxiety is keeping me from going to the Y.  My first time on the treadmill brought up all kinds of emotions.  I was excited to reclaim this part of my life, but at the same time I felt like I was walking back toward the depression.  I am beyond pleased that I did not walk back into the familiar darkness.

Also, during the depression, I knitted hat after hat.  It was my fallback activity when I couldn’t face the world.  I was making up to a hat every two days.  I haven’t touched the one on my loom in weeks.  Not one single stitch.  I’ll get back to that…someday.

The social anxiety has gotten a little better.  I can go out of my house, and grocery shopping isn’t quite as terrifying, and I have made it to church the last two weeks, but at the same time, phone calls are still excessively difficult, going to stores continues to be an ordeal, and talking to people still brings physical pain, but I am working on it, bit by bit, I am working on it.

I am surprised at how much I am still sleeping.  It is not as bad as with the depression, but I guess more of the sleeping was from medication side effects than I thought.  Oh well, if my mind is quiet, it is worth needing to nap every day.

Little by little, I am easing back into life.  It doesn’t look quite like I remember it before the depression, but it is mine, and my familys’ life and we are embracing it.  We are blooming where we’re planted.