Annual Reminder

Have I ever mentioned that Bipolar Disorder is a jerk?  A real jerk?  Well it is, and even when you are doing well it is not far away and even when you are doing well, that doesn’t mean  it isn’t pressing in, closer and closer to taking over your mind once again.

It’s been whispering in my ear for a week.  I’m scared, but I am beginning to reach out and use both old and new coping mechanisms.  This week it got a big boost to the forefront of my mind…it handed me my annual reminder of what a terrible mother I am.

I don’t enjoy playing in water.  I don’t enjoy water slides.  I don’t enjoy swimming.  Never really have.  I can doggy paddle but even that is cumbersome and sloppy.  But, my children are more normal than I, and they love the water.  LOVE IT!  Love the slip and slide.  Love the water balloons.  Love the splash pad.  Love the water slide.  Love the wave pool.  They love it all.

And the beginning to our summer has been toasty.  And sunny.  The girls keep mentioning the water park…so, surprise, surprise when that was the first activity they wanted to do on our summer “bucket” list.

I have been taking Caitlyn and Sue for four years.  Our county rec program used to give kids free passes for reading.  They seem to have stopped doing that, but not before they got my girls hooked on going.

So we go…

The first year I was still working, well sort of.  I was on medical leave because the bipolar was giving me heck and I had just started lithium after being hospitalized once again for suicidal thoughts/plans.  Caitlyn, Sue, and I left Patrice with the sitter and off to the water park we headed.  We put sunscreen on the girls, but not on mama.  And then we played for a few hours.

The sunscreen didn’t do the big girls any good and my lack of sunscreen did me even less favors.  We all came home painfully burned.  Hubby wanted take us all to the ER for help and I just stood there blubbering about what a failure of a mom I was.

I will never forget how burned Caitlyn was.

And every year that damn water park reminds me what a failure I am.  Oh, the girls are well coated in sunscreen, but see that fair skin?  It manages to burn anyway…and I fight back my tears.

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They aren’t crying–not at the park or once we get home.  Oh no, they are planning their next trip (they hid the water park back in our “bucket” list).  They are hoping, asking, planning while mommy is screaming with terror at herself (internally) for being such a horrible, lousy mother that does not deserve to guide these beautiful girls through life.

My mind walks two lives, plastering on the smiles, waving, and taking pictures while the girls play while internally I am preparing myself for someone to say,  you really can’t do this, we can’t let you do this.  And Bipolar gets the last laugh as it reminds me of what I really am…

Sometimes It Is About Control

I wrote this post in my head while taking a walk.  It was awesome…then.  We’ll see how it goes now.

I, like many teens/young people, danced with anorexia in my teens and then again in my 20s.  I was chunky from fourth grade on.  My cousin was slim, all the popular girls were slim, and then there was me.

High school sucked.  Most of the people around me were mean or indifferent (NOT the aforementioned cousin–she was and is one of the best people in my life).  I didn’t know how to fit in at either of the schools I attended during Junior High and High School.  Nothing I did helped.  I felt like I didn’t have any control.

And then I learned to control my food.  I could skip as many meals as I wanted.  That, I could control.  So, I ate less and less.  And I lost weight.


I got down to 84 pounds.

But hunger came back and so did the pounds.

Right after high school I discovered exercise and a healthy diet.  I took the weight off right this time.

And it stayed off.

Then I got involved in a relationship.  A really unhealthy relationship.  Let’s call it for what it was…an abusive relationship.  And they only thing I ever did that made him happy was losing more weight.  He loved to show people how much he could overlap his fingers when he put his hands around my waist.  So, I kept losing weight.

Praise the Lord, he and I split up, but again life was spiraling for a while there and food was one thing I could control.

Until I met my now husband.  I was  happy with him.  I had someone to eat with again.  I gained weight.  Then I lost weight…in time to get pregnant with our third baby…and then I lost all control of my weight with the various psych meds I was on and the depression I was in.

Control was again missing from my life.

I have slowly regained control my mind.  I am slowly regaining control of my weight.

I have lost 17 pounds since January.

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As I have written about before, I  have had to radically change my diet.  I have had to eliminate or severely limit many foods.  It is not always fun, but it is worth it.  The FODMAP diet has eliminated much of my stomach pain.  It has made losing weight much easier, and, an added benefit, it has given me control–healthy control–over my eating again.  I know what I can and cannot eat.  I know how much I can eat.  There is no guesswork in my food.

It is good.  Very good.

We Went We Saw

Four years ago, we headed a few states over for a family wedding.  We did some camping along the way.

Turns out, I remember very little of it.

Patrice was one years old.  I don’t remember her being there at all.  Hubby tells me she was very good about camping and the wedding, but if you ask me, she wasn’t even there.

And sorry to my niece who was getting married, I don’t remember the wedding at all.  I am sure it was just lovely.  Really lovely, but you see, I was very sick with the postpartum depression and bipolar at the time.  Life at that time was really hard and so very foggy.

But time has passed and my meds are better…and my mind is allowing me to think and remember.

So this trip to a wedding was very different.  It was very nice.  We went to our nephews’ wedding and then headed to Lake Michigan to relax and even visit Chicago for a day.

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A waterfall in Wisconsin we visited with family before heading to Lake Michigan2016-06-08 07.36.48 2016-06-08 07.38.41 2016-06-08 09.24.22 2016-06-08 11.54.49 2016-06-09 10.28.58 2016-06-09 11.20.57 2016-06-09 12.29.25 2016-06-09 12.32.43 2016-06-09 15.09.42 2016-06-09 15.19.48 2016-06-09 15.50.44 2016-06-09 19.28.26 2016-06-10 13.37.00 2016-06-10 20.41.52 2016-06-10 20.53.07

Meeting another warrior mom was a huge highlight of the trip!!!2016-06-10 21.42.05 2016-06-11 08.21.03 2016-06-11 09.31.27 2016-06-11 12.10.21 2016-06-11 19.01.13 2016-06-11 20.51.33 2016-06-12 08.35.53This trip was fantastic and I am hoping to remember it for a very long time!!!

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!