Category Archives: depression

The Day Mama Marched

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.

 

My husband and I met over 14 years ago at our church.  We were both part of the singles ministry there.  I just visited at first, but as time went on I came to more and more of the activities.  At the time, the singles group took up two rows of seats (actually pews) in the service time.  For some reason, the group chose to sit way up front.  Like 3 rows from the pulpit.  It seemed a little close to me, but so be it…I sat up there too.  No biggie.

Hubby and I got married, moved to a different Sunday School class, started having kids, and along came Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, along with debilitating Social Anxiety.  Attending church became very, very difficult for me.  Sitting up front was out of the question.  I sat as far back as possible most of the time–if not in the foyer.

And hubby noticed.

He realized he could gauge how well I was doing in my head by where I sat in church.  When things were rough I either sat in the foyer or way in the back of the sanctuary.  On the rare good days, I would head much further up in the seating area.  I didn’t notice, but he sure did…and when he mentioned it to me, I started paying attention and he was right.

This weekend was pretty good for me.  Busy, but I handled most of it.  Saturday had some rough spots, where I have to admit I was afraid I was going to lose it, but I didn’t and by Sunday I was okay.

Sunday morning I walked into that church and marched up to the front.  Hubby said, “look at you going right to the front!”

“Of course I am, my babies are singing and I need pictures!”

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It’s Christmas time–time for Christmas programs and yesterday was ours.  The girls sang in both services and had a Christmas party in between.  And this year I was strong enough to be right up front–so close during the first service that Caitlyn could see us and tried to smile for the pictures.

All along, my fight to be well has been for my family–specifically my girls.  The last six years hasn’t been easy on any of us but yesterday was a victory for all of us…the day mama marched into the church to take pictures.

Exercise Antidepressants

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.

I take a handful of medications, including antidepressants, a couple times a day to keep the Bipolar Disorder at bay.  It works, but not alone.  Taking medication is not all I do to stay healthy.

Staying healthy is truly a full-time job for me.  It requires prayer, doctor appointments, talking to others to keep me grounded, using a vast array of skills to control anxiety, essential oils, staying away from triggering situations, and exercise.

Exercise is a huge part of it.  There is no denying that, but just like the medication can’t fix me without other tools, neither can exercise.

That brings me to a radio commercial that drives.me.crazy.  In this commercial the person announces  how working out 3 times a week is the equivalent of an antidepressant, so to sign up for that yoga class and get sweaty.

Yeah, no.  Exercise will never equal an antidepressant for people who need to be on an antidepressant.  It just won’t.  And insinuating, or flat out saying, that it will is just irresponsible.

There is a stigma around mental illness.  There is a stigma around taking medications for  mental illness.  It helps no one to say they just need to do some yoga and get nice and sweaty.

This time of year can be hard for a lot of people.  There are natural triggers, like the lack of sunlight due to shorter days, there are social triggers, such as family stressors.  It can be a rough time.  And what people need right now is honesty.

Honesty sometimes means saying the hard things, like, “have you considered talking to your doctor about some options to help you?”  That’s not easy to say.  It’s not exactly easy to hear, but, that…that is love.

 

Thought I Knew Better

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.

Seventeen years ago, wow, has it really been that long?, I made some bad choices, I loved and trusted someone I shouldn’t have, and my found myself in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship.

I got out.  He dumped me.  I was embarrassed, hurt and angry, but still, it was for the best as I got out.  My pride would have kept me there but he decided he didn’t want me.

And that’s really okay.

Fast forward 17 years, and I have an amazing life.  I have a husband who loves me and endeavors to always take care of me.  I have three amazing daughters.

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I have it all.

And the memories from that relationship.  The hurtful things he said and did and made me believe.  I live with those, and unfortunately, so does my husband.

He lives with them when I am afraid to look at him when I think he is upset with me.

He lives with them when I over apologize for something, or sometimes, nothing.

He lives with them when I work myself into a tizzy trying to make him proud of me.

I live with them all the time.  When I hear him in my head telling me no one likes me, no one wants to be my friend, without him I wouldn’t have any friends.

When I hear him in my head telling me no one likes me, no one wants to be my friend, without him I wouldn’t have any friends.

When I hear him tell me I don’t know how to dress.

When I hear him tell me I talk too much or too loudly.

When I hear him tell me I do the laundry wrong.

It’s been 17 years.  Seventeen years of lies I cannot shake.  Seventeen  years of his anger I cannot shake.  Seventeen years of his voice I cannot unhear.

I walk literally every day with one or more of these things.  Wondering how to shake it, wondering how to be free.

How to be free…

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.

Bonus.

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!!!

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 .

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.

Off Came the Band Aid

My girls have been fighting a lot.  They have been getting annoyed with each other a lot.  They have been getting annoyed with people they know a lot.

Thursday I  had enough.

I unwittingly ripped off a band aid that had been protecting me for 22 years.

Growing up, I had very loving family.  And I had a couple neighborhood friends who were sweet.  I also had some friends from camp, who by the very nature of our friendship were not around or available to me on a daily basis.  Friendship wise, that was about it.*

Friends were hard for me to come by.

My early school memories are sketchy.  There was the day the girl in first grade punched me and broke my glasses.  Or the time I let the boys use my lunch box as a soccer ball because I didn’t like my sturdy metal box anymore.  I still remember the punishment for that decision as well.  And then there was going to my 2nd grade teacher’s house.  She had a pink bathroom.  Who wouldn’t remember that?

The next memory is third grade.

Standing in the middle of the playground alone.  Looking for someone to play with.  I stood there, surrounded by playground equipment I was not good at playing on, alone.  No one wanting to play with me.

Or the bullies in third grade who saw I was smaller and easily intimidated.  They followed me out to the classroom (third grade was in a separate building up a hill), got in front of me and stepped on my toes with their cowboy boots.  But that problem I could handle.  I employed my bigger fourth grade cousin to walk me to class.  That worked awesome until my mom found out and told me I had to stop doing that because I couldn’t make my cousin late for his class.  Then they were back to stomping on my toes.

Every year continued to be more and more lonely.  I just wasn’t a fit for any of the groups of friends, at the Christian schools I transferred to or when I transferred back to the small public school I had started elementary school in.

These memories have always hurt, but I had them tucked, for the most part, in a nice little box back in my memory–until Thursday.

Back to my annoyed little girls.

Girls, you need to get over that.  Mama can tell you what happens to that little girl who gets annoyed easily with other kids.  They end up growing up a very, very, very  lonely little girl.

And with that, I ripped off the band aid that has been protecting me all these years.  Sure, kids are mean, kids are obnoxious to each other, but I played a role in my loneliness as a kid.  I didn’t understand or get along with kids my age for many reasons and I had tucked that away for a long time, but now the sadness and frustration are back out in the open.  And for the life of me I can’t figure out how to put them all away again.  How do I tuck them away?  I really don’t know, so here I stand, crying again, as I have been for the last two days.

My husband is thrilled I shared that with the girls, we are both hoping they learn sooner, rather than later, what mama is trying to explain to them, what mama is trying to share.  I am not so thrilled.  He agrees I may need to share that again.  I don’t know if I can.  It hurt 22 years ago, it hurt Thursday, it still hurts today.

I didn’t know how to carry that pain all those years ago.  And I still don’t know as an adult.

I want my band aid back.

*Thank you to my amazing cousins for sticking up for me in school–for risking their popularity to speak up for the girl no one stuck up for.

Protected: The Turmoil

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Five Years Gone

Patrice is 5 today.  Five.

In some ways that makes me 5 as well.  Five years ago mental illness invaded me first as baby blues, then postpartum depression and anxiety with a psychotic episode.  And it never went away.

My therapist said I should look at all the good times during those 5 years.  And I try, and succeed, pretty often.  But every good time was against the landscape of mental illness.  Me trying to cope.  Me trying to learn to live.  Me trying to live.

Patrice has grown from a little baby.

all three girls 2010 Leah at park 2010To an amazing 5 year old who loves fiercely, can add up to 5, can’t wait to learn to read, crazy cute and oh so funny.  Amazing.

2015-08-07 11.39.05The years have been sweet.  The years have been hard.  But we are here to celebrate them together.  My Patrice and I.

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