Category Archives: Patrice

Seven Years and I’m Still Here

I love the change of seasons here.  It is probably my favorite thing about Michigan.  It is nice to always have a different feel to look forward to…and with it a change in scenery.  And fall does scenery the best!!

And then, 7 years ago, fall got complicated.

Patrice was born.  Good.  Postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis showed up.  Bad, very, very bad.`

Suddenly, fall became a hard time, a very hard time.  Seven years ago this week I ended up in the hospital for the first time when the mania (cue bipolar disorder showing up) tried to destroy me.

And ever since, fall has been hard. I find myself battling a major depressive episode each fall. It is a time of just working to survive.  So my time I have always loved, becomes instead a season of hunkering down and praying for my life.

But this year.  This year.  It has been hard.  I have been working my self care and medication tools hard and using the insane level of busyness of family life to my advantage–distractions galore!!

And it has worked!!  I was able to enjoy my wedding anniversary this week.  I am laughing real laughs.  I am still nervous as October 28th comes around, but I am hopeful for the first time in 7 years that I just might be okay.

Hope is a beautiful thing!

Another Glimpse

I don’t think this is the first time, but I thought a glimpse into the hypomania side of bipolar disorder might be an okay idea today.

But first, check out this cute.

My girls are so beautiful and I am so proud of them.  They keep me moving literally, mentally, and emotionally.

And lately, I have been moving…non-stop.  It started with just busyness.  Sue was finishing up practices and launching into performances for Seussical.  It was phenomenal.

But it’s done–thing is, I can’t stop keep moving.  Yes, life is busy, but I should be capable of slowing down, of stopping.  I’m not.  Having open time fills me with overwhelming panic and dread, like everything is going to fall apart if I stop for one single minute.

On the upside, there is always a lot to be done.  Even hypomania can’t get me on top of all of it, but I am using it as much as possible.

Today included planning and organizing for the upcoming school year, laundry, and a million other little things.

This has been going on for weeks, which is not normal for me, and my thinking is starting to get much harder to control, my anger at things is out of proportion, I am over thinking EVERYTHING, so on and so forth.

Monday, it was time to call the doctor, so I did.  He upped a med and I am headed to his office tomorrow.

I know it will get sorted out.  Hypomania has always been a strange bedfellow for me, but one that can be helped.  I know help is coming.

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 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.

Enjoy What You’re Doing

Ten or so years ago, hubby and I rang a bell at a Salvation Army Kettle.  It is a chilly project, but low stress and high fun.  That experience was before kids.  I decided a couple weeks ago it was time to do it again–as a family of five!!

So, this afternoon we bundled up (glad it wasn’t as cold today as it was earlier this week) and headed out to the Post Office.

We sang, we danced, we said Merry Christmas and thank you!

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We had lots of comments from people saying we looked like we were having fun.  One guy, motioned over to hubby as he danced to Dominick the Donkey, and said, “you gotta enjoy what you are doing!”

And we did.

We were out there 2 hours and 20 minutes.  There were no bell ringers when we got there, so we just started our shift a little early.  People responded well.  Our bucket was completely full when we returned it to the Salvation Army Citadel this afternoon.

Our toes were cold, but our hearts were full from being able to do our part to help.

Faces of Patrice

Just a bit of a review of my sweet Patrice.

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Politics Here

Let’s just start off by saying I have no idea how I am going to vote in the upcoming Presidential election.  What I do know, is I cannot wait for the political ads and posts on Facebook to be gone.

I may still be struggling about whether or not I am going to vote at all, but that does not mean we have ignored politics in our homeschooling.  We have read several biographies, we have done a unit study, we have had many, many conversations about the positives and negatives of the Republican and Democratic candidates, and talked about what an Independent Party/candidate is.

In the unit study Caitlyn and Sue created a newspaper that included articles about the overall election process  and who the Presidential Candidates were, a letter to the editor concerning a local issue on the ballot, an overview of the requirements for voting in our state and what the voting process entails, how the candidates differ and how they are similar, an explanation of our two major parties, and an overview of women’s suffrage.

But our elections education has not been purely academic.

The girls’ have each explained, based on their understanding, who they would vote for.  I am standing here wracking my brain trying to remember what each of them said about their choice.  I know Patrice said she would vote for Hillary Clinton because “she is a girl.”  Patrice has also very sweetly asked me to vote for Hillary–“for me, please mommy?”  Caitlyn has had several thoughts on the issue, but the one that sticks out to me is she would vote for Hillary Clinton because Donald Trump “is a sore loser” (she has watched portions of each of the debates).  Sue said she would vote for Hillary Clinton “because she is a girl and because I don’t think she should be in jail, she was only trying to protect her e-mail and the country.”

I may still be trying to decide what to do when I am standing in front of the ballot Tuesday, but my girls have made up their minds!

Caitlyn has even flexed some of her democratic muscles.  The other day, every time someone disagreed with what she was doing or wearing, she declared, “It’s a free country!”

And then tonight the girls capped off their understanding of the election process by spontaneously presenting their own presidential debate.  Caitlyn was the moderator, Sue was the Republican Candidate, and Patrice was the Democratic Candidate.  They covered issues including homelessness, housing, schools, and what they would do to make America greater.  Patrice, on the topic of homelessness, said anybody that “wanted a house can come ask me, and I will put them in a hotel and build them a house.”  Sue, concerning schools said, “I will get better teachers and better food because nobody can learn on an empty stomach!”  Concerning making America greater Sue said she would stop terrorist attacks while Patrice said she would give money to the homeless.

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Our debate even had some “digs” in it as Sue told Patrice her answer was “a great comedy act.”  The girls, as you can see, dressed up for the debate–shoes optional, and they had suckers from their Halloween candy.

Of course, after the debate I had to explain to Patrice what a Republican was and what a Democrat was…she’s a 6-year-old work in progress.

I am really pleased with our overall study of Americas’ election process and what the girls have learned.  They’ve worked hard to understand the world around them and we’ve had some fun along the way; what more could I ask for?

 

 

Today was Hands On

Our first year of homeschooling I found so many incredible ideas for hands-on projects and activities.  It was fun, if I do say so myself.  My second year that dwindled, and last year was dismal.  We made it through our daily lessons of bookwork, but there just wasn’t any fun.  Last year was survival mode as I battled the bipolar disorder…But this year, this year, offered hope.

Hope, that we could have fun again.  That Patrice could enjoy some fo the hands-on activities similar to what we had done in the first year, when she was oblivious.

And I think, we have had more fun.  We are getting through material, going on field trips, and enjoying projects.  Today, we did two fun projects in art and science.

During art, we made cards for a friend in the hospital.

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This afternoon we did a science project learning how plant seeds might travel to other places in the world.  We “made” seeds and sent them flying.

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The best part was seeing Patrice not only get involved in the activity, but watching the video beforehand, and being able to explain what it was saying, and argue her point, successfully I might add, with her sisters.

Every day has it’s adventures, but today included some intentional fun!

 

Kind of Sad

Last night was another great night of Halloween fun.  The girls made their costumes earlier in the week, the weather was perfect last night, and there were very few Trick or Treaters, so people were very generous to my girls.  Caitlyn and Sue weighed their loot–7 lbs and 6 lbs respectively.  Sue’s candy haul weighed more than she did at birth!!

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We had so few Trick or Treaters that I put our candy out on the porch and we all went together.

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Caitlyn was a jellyfish, Sue was the Ocean Blue, and Patrice was Rapunzel.  They put them together all by themselves.

No help from mama.

I remember not too long ago when they needed my help to walk up to the doors, knock, say Trick or Treat, and Thank You.  This year I was just a chaperone.

And it made me kind of sad.  It was the first year my babies didn’t need me.  Okay, not kind of sad.  I actually walked from house to house holding back the tears.  Hubby says it is because I have done a good job raising them to be creative, confident girls.

I say, “where did my babies go???”

All That Falls

I found a project on Pinterest and we actually did it!!!

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We painted q-tip fall trees 🙂