Category Archives: Patrice

The Decade

My youngest, Patrice, is 10.  A whole decade.  One I never dreamed I would survive in the early days, months, years…

Her birth completed our family and just about killed me.  Baby blues came.  My midwife talked me through those days.  And then I got a week of peace.  I thought I was in the clear…then I couldn’t sleep.  My brain refused to shut off no matter what I did.  I couldn’t stop moving.  I had to be busy or I was just sure I would fall apart.  I had three girls 4 and under–and we never stopped going to the park, the library, anything I could find to do while wearing a tiny baby.  I even cleaned my house!!

The darkness was overwhelming me.  I was sure my family would be better off without me.  I would e-mail my midwife who would convince me I should go back home.  I didn’t want to leave my family–I just didn’t see how I would ever survive.

Over the years I have done hospital stays; I take medicine that makes me sick every single day.  I run for exercise and to keep my sanity.  I have people around me that love me, encourage me, challenge me, help me focus on why I continue to fight and live.

My postpartum depression and anxiety were not nice enough to resolve and leave…it made itself at home as bipolar 2 and anxiety.  I am pretty sure there is another diagnosis but eh, who has the time to remember them all?

But here we are, 10 years later.  Patrice seems pretty happy and growing in Jesus, living life in this pandemic.  Ten years later, we are all here to celebrate the decade of Patrice and how far we have come!

Walking your own journey with postpartum mood disorders and need someone to talk to or get resources?  Contact the PSI warm line (leave a message) call 1-800-944-4773 or text 503-894-9453.  Leave in your message if you would like to talk with someone with particular expertise, such as Armed Forces, Arabic speaking, Spanish speaking, dads, adoptive parents, birth mothers, postpartum psychosis.

School Year

Where did this year go?  I swear it started yesterday but here we are…starting our last week on Monday!!

I am ready.

The girls are ready.

Frazier is probably even ready.

I am sure the turtle is ready.

Did we get it all done?  Heck no!!!

But Sue did an amazing job with reading.  She read so many books!  She read things like Bridge to Terabethia, Paddington Bear, Island of the Blue Dolphin, Refugee, some Dork Diaries books, some Who Was biographies, Anne of Green Gables, Across Five Aprils.  A lot.

Ukranian eggs were decorated.

Ice skating was discovered.

Dissections were done (grasshopper and squid).

Syrian foods were eaten.

Math was done–each of the girls completed a level and started the next!!

Random schoolwork was done.

A good year was had…

 

 

What a Marvelous Feeling

Today, I became a collector of half marathon finisher medals!!  I read that once you have three of something, you have a collection.  Today, I added my third half finisher medal!!

Three months of squeezing in runs, building miles, letting other tasks and hobbies slide, culminating in 13.1 miles from the USA over to Canada and back again.

I dragged my family out of bed at 4 am–yelled and fussed until I was in my corral at 6:30–over an hour before sunrise.

Patrice was the holder of the cowbell.  She walked around all morning saying, “I have a cowbell!”

Sue was none too impressed with this early morning start.

As I waited in the corral, I met three people with whom I struck up a bit of a conversation with–in Arabic.  This was their first race and they were planning to walk the vast majority of it. We wished each other well and were off.

My average running pace puts me in with a lot of walkers, but I am not one of them.  It was quite the task to weave in and out of the people in order to keep running, but I did it.

This is the bridge from the Canadian side.  We ran over on the bridge and ran back through the tunnel.  You are actually running under water for one mile of the race.

I had the privilege of running this race because of a lovely friend who was born Canadian but is now an American.  This spot marks where you go from one country to the other.  There were lots of pictures being taken.  Again, I didn’t stop to take any…I clicked and ran.  I did end up walking my one and only step at this point when a person was dead in the way taking a picture and an old lady shoved me to get through.  I paid her back by passing her and never seeing her again 😉

At mile 9 I ended up catching up with one of my friends from the start.  She was really struggling so I slowed my pace to run with her a bit.  We chatted and kept moving.  I ended up moving on, but I found it a great privilege to run with her.

Then mile 11 came.  And this running gig started getting harder.  By mile 12 I was hurting pretty badly.  And all the sudden a lady came alongside me and said, “I have been following you the whole way and you have been inspiring me to keep running.”  I was really not able to talk anymore at this point, but she stayed with me, chatted just enough to keep me moving, and helped me find that last bit of oomph to dig deep and speed up for the finish line.

I owe her a great deal.

She and I crossed together, she gave me a hug and thanked ME for inspiring her.  And then another lady came up to me, gave me a hug and thanked me for inspiring her.

Me.  They thanked me.

I had gotten my medal and my warming foil but was still at the finish line when my friend from the beginning finished.  I was so excited to get over there and tell her “Mabruuk (congratulations)!”  She thanked me and gave me a hug.

And that for me, is the perfect race recap.

I never dreamed I would ever get confident enough in my running to help others, I never dreamed I would inspire someone who didn’t know my story.  I never imagined I would run 3 half marathons in 13 months.

Perfection got a little better when I got home and found my race results on-line.  I finished in 3 hours, 2 minutes and 32 seconds.  That is 22 minutes faster than my first half and 25 minutes faster than my second.  My overall pace this time was 13:56.  I was hoping for a pace in the 14-minute range.  I never dreamed in a million years I would get under 14!!!

I am tired and hungry and thirsty.  But I am happy on so many levels!!!

I am looking forward to very gentle activity this week and finding my next race…

Happy New Year!!

Back in the day…before hubby…there was this guy.  We made it as far as engagement…and then he dumped me via text message.  Cool, huh?  We’ll skip all the messy details and go with, it was all for the best and I learned how to say hello and Happy New Year in Chinese from the whole situation.

And today is the day I get to use that knowledge!

It is the beginning of the year of the Dog.

Caitlyn made Wonton Soup (so yummy).  I made beef broccoli (in the Instant Pot).  Sue, Patrice, and Caitlyn made a dragon. Sue and Patrice wore their outfits that grandma gave the girls years ago.

Fun was had!!!

GUNG HAY FAA CHOY!!!!

 

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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