Battle

That’s what it feels like, isn’t it?  When you have anxiety, or depression, or any other form of mental health “issues”.  You feel like you are at battle.  With your brain, your thoughts, your body.  I can’t speak for anything outside of anxiety, since I haven’t experienced it first hand, so that’s where I’m headed today.

I mentioned in my last post that I was struggling with anxiety through the month of June.  It had been months since it had reared its ugly, annoying head, but there it was.  I wasn’t surprised, necessarily.  June was over the top busy, add in some unexpected news regarding a family member, and never ending strep infections for my boy, and an unexplained body rash – it’s the perfect recipe for anxious thoughts.

So many old feelings were coming back.  When my husband, who has never experienced anxiety asked me what it felt like, the best explanation I could come up with was that adrenalin rush you get on a roller coaster.  Except it’s constant.  My heart is beating too fast.  My brain, thinking it is in trouble, keeps giving off the fight or flight signal.  I feel like I am on a merry go round, and it is going so fast, and it just won’t stop.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

The difference this time, compared to four years ago, is that the feeling was familiar.  I knew it was all a big, huge lie that my brain was telling my body.  I knew I wasn’t really in danger.  And I knew what the triggers were.  I knew what I needed to do to get myself out of the spin cycle.

There were things I was missing for that month, that I knew were detrimental to keeping my head clear.

  1. Time with Jesus.  I hadn’t been to church at all that month, because we had something going on every Sunday.  I wasn’t spending quiet time with Him, at any part of my day.  This is so important to my well being.  As soon as I realized how much time had gone by without it, so much made sense.  I ordered myself a new Bible study, I made a priority to prayer time in the morning, I asked Him to fill me with so much of Him, that there wasn’t any more room for anxious thoughts.
  2. Exercise.  It doesn’t have to be anything intense for me.  Just getting my heart rate up, raising some endorphins, makes a significant difference in my brain function.  I made myself a promise that I would get up early and walk on the treadmill first thing most mornings.  This gives me some time to clear my head before my day even starts.
  3. A clean house.  I use this term VERY lightly.  My house is in no way sparkling.  However, when the table and countertops get cluttered, my brain gets cluttered.  I put things away, that had been hanging out in piles where they didn’t belong.  I shredded papers, and wiped surfaces.  I made it all more manageable.  Yes, this took a full day of dedication, but now it is much easier to keep up with.

This is just the tip of what helps me manage my anxiety.  There are still many things to touch on, but I feel like when these three are prevalent, I can breathe a bit easier.

It should go without saying that everyone is different.  What works for me, might not work for you.  Just because I have gone of my medication, does not mean that you should go off of yours.  If I am being 100% honest, I actually felt guilty when I went off of mine.  I felt like I was betraying somebody.  How ridiculous is that?

Now, I want to hear from you.  What are things that help you?  Even if you don’t have anxiety, what are some ways you de-stress?  I would love to compile a list of ideas to share 🙂

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Look Who’s Back…

…Back again

So, I took an unplanned hiatus from blogging.  My last post was two years ago, and the only thing I can think, is how in the world does two years go by so quickly??

My life has changed in many ways over the last two years.  In many ways life has gotten much easier.  Two years ago my children were 2 and 4, I was finally feeling the weight of parenting getting lighter.  I was finding relief from my anxiety through medication.  I was feeling more balanced than I had in a long time.

Fast forward two years.  My children are now 4 and (almost) 6.  We have pre-k and kindergarten behind us for our oldest.  The kids are both potty trained (can I get an amen?).  They can get their own snacks and get themselves dressed.  They (mostly) sleep through the night.

As for myself?  I am one of the co-leaders of our local MOPS group and a board member on the PTA.  I run our kids to all of their extra curricular activities, keep our household running, and sell Mary Kay to help tackle some of our debt.  I am an introvert to the core, but do a pretty good job posing as an extrovert when I need to.  With these activities has come a wonderful community of people, some of which have become friends, all of which I wouldn’t be surviving this crazy life without.

For anyone that has read my blog in the past, you know about my struggle with anxiety.  You know that after I had my son I opted to go on medication to get it under control.  You know that I was finding my way, feeling the heaviness of it all lifting off of me.

I really wanted to come back two years later and be able to say that I figured it all out.  That my anxiety was completely under control.  Which is funny, because I know better than anyone that nobody has it all figured out.

In some ways, I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I was.  Back in January I was able to go off of my medication, and up until last month I didn’t have any anxiety.  Not one panic attack.  Not one anxious thought.  Four full months feeling “normal”, for lack of a better word.  I will do a post in the near future of how I managed all of this off of medication, but for now, this is what you get.  For four months I was anxiety free, but the last month it has been a struggle to keep it at bay.  It comes in waves, as those of you who also suffer will understand.  Some days are great, others are non-stop worry from waking until I go to bed.  I am fine, really.  I know what causes it, and I know what to do to calm it.  This isn’t a call for help, it is merely me being transparent.  Telling you, that you aren’t alone in this fight, if you too struggle with any mental health issues.  Telling you, that even if it isn’t right now, it will be okay.

I have been feeling called to start writing again, if not for anyone else’s benefit, then for my own.  It is a type of therapy for me.  I’ve been ignoring the pushing feeling for a couple of months now, but when the anxiety returned, I knew that it was time.  So, if you are reading this, heeeey.

I’m going to try to be more regular around here.  Right now my kids are in a summer program once per week that will give me some time to share some thoughts.  I’m excited to get back into it, even if nobody comes along for the ride, but I hope you’ll join me 🙂

Finding My Balance Through Faith

It has been a long time since I last posted.  My aunt asked me why, and my mom answered for me “because she has found her balance.”

I may not be perfectly balanced.  There are dishes in my sink and laundry is piled up.  I have a to do list.  And I never get everything done that I want to.  The difference between now and two years ago is that I have finally figured out that we aren’t meant to get everything done.

I have learned how to prioritize, and to not feel guilty when I just can’t do it all.  I have learned to make time for myself to do what gives me life.  One of these things is spending time in the word every day.  In doing so I feel as if my life is as balanced as it ever will be.  Yet, I am still finding lessons wherever I go.

Last night I went with some family to see Miracles From Heaven.  This movie tore at my heart strings in every way imaginable.  If you haven’t seen it, I won’t ruin it for you, but I am going to share a big question it made me ask myself.

Over the last year I have really been moving forward in my faith journey.  I have been getting to know God in a whole new way.  I am stronger in my faith now than I ever have been in my life, and it feels really good.  I feel pretty confident in myself, that I am gaining ground as a Christian.  I am learning more, and sharing what I am learning with others.  I am putting my trust in God, where in the past I would have taken on the whole burden myself.

Watching this movie last night, especially knowing that it was a true story, I had to ask myself something.  Would I have the same amount of faith in God if things were going badly?

If one of my kids got hurt or sick, would I still trust in Him?

It is so easy to trust in His plans for you when things are going smoothly in your life.  It’s easy to say “I know God loves me, look at all he has blessed me with”.  But what about the trials?  Where would your faith stand then?

I would love to say that my trust would be just as confident then as it is now, but I honestly don’t know.

I watched this mother lose faith.  I watched her not understand why bad things were happening.  But at the same time, her daughter’s faith never waivered.   I want to be like that little girl.  I want to always trust.  I want to teach my children to always trust.

There was an Albert Einstein quote used in this movie that I will keep imprinted on my heart.  “There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Let’s choose the latter.

Goals.

I see this word a lot on social media.  “Squad goals”, “Relationship goals”, “friendship goals”.  It has become one of those weird words that young(er)* people use without an explanation.  Under a picture of a happy couple – “goals”.  Under a picture of someone eating an icecream cone – “goals”.  Under a picture of a six pack (of either beer or abs) – “goals”.

Well, I may not have icecream goals, and I’ve already reached my relationship goals, and I’m not really 100% positive what a squad is, unless you are referring to a group of cheerleaders, but I do have some goals for 2016.  And with this being the last day of 2015.  And with the fact that I have been completely slacking in the blog department.  I thought I would share them.

  1.   Whole 30.  I am going to start my first Whole 30 on January 4th.  I spent a good part of 2015 taking steps to become healthier, both physically and mentally, and have really been wanting to try this.  I don’t really care if I lose any weight or not, I just really want to reset my body.  I want to see how much the unnecessary junk I put into my body really effects me.  I want to establish healthier eating habits for both myself and my family.  I want to focus on nourishing my body, practice mindful eating, and if I lose a couple pounds in the process – great.  My ultimate goal is to complete this every couple of months throughout the year.
  2. Simplify.  I have already started on this one.  My intention is to get rid of things we don’t want/use/need.  We live in a pretty modest sized house.  Holding on to things just for the sake of holding on to them has caused a lot of clutter to gather in our modest house.  The clutter has started to make my brain feel like it is going to explode.  And then we just buy more stuff.  It’s time to stop.  No more clutter.  No more unnecessary things.  No more wasted money and space.
  3. Celebrate.  I want to celebrate every day.  I want to wake up and have dance parties with my kids simply because it’s a Tuesday.  I want to celebrate friendships.  I want to celebrate my husband coming home after a long day with the kids.  I want to celebrate life.  I want dinner on a Thursday to be a celebration because we are all together, and happy, and healthy, and alive.
  4. Mindful living.  This includes less screen time, being more present in the moment, paying more attention, doing things with purpose.
  5. Make moves.  I have a couple personal goals that I have been sitting on, and I have every intention of moving forward with them this year.  I will share them when the time is right.

As far as mom goals go, I have high hopes that I will continue to simultaneously keep myself and my children alive, that my daughter will be potty trained before her 30th birthday, that my son will eat something other than chocolate for breakfast, and that maybe we’ll get one full, eight hour night of sleep.  2016 I’m coming for you.

*There is a good possibility that everyone of all ages use this termonology and I’m just really that un-cool.

Life After Post Partum Depression/Anxiety/OCD.

If you missed my posts on my struggle with post partum depression/anxiety/ocd, you can find them here and here.

I like to think I have come a long way since writing those posts.  Granted, that could have a lot to do with having two toddlers now, or the fact that I am still taking Paxil.  Regardless of the reasons, it feels really good to have my life back, and to be able to say, with confidence, that if you are currently struggling, there is hope.  You will get through it.  Whether that be with counseling, medication, self-help, or all of the above, there will come a time when you feel like your old self.

In my experience, I actually feel better than I ever did.  I spent a majority of my life suffering from anxiety, without even realizing that not everyone had the same intense fears that I had.

I realize that most may not consider me “healed” since I am still taking medication.  To this, all I have to say is that this medication saved me.  It gave me my life back.  It gave me life back that I didn’t even know I was missing.

Maybe there will come a time when I feel ready to go off of it, right now though, is not that time.

What this medication does for me, is keeps me from allowing my anxiety to rule my life.  I still get anxious, I still have to use mind over matter to get through certain situations, I still have to push myself to leave my comfort zone, but I think that’s just a part of being human.  What I’m not dealing with anymore?  Paralyzing fear, obsessive thoughts, depression.

The other day, I took both of my children, by myself, to their first dentist appointment.  By. Myself.  This might seem like nothing to some, but to me, it is everything.  The old me would have never in a million years been able to do that without having a  panic attack.

We go on regular outings now, just the three of us.  Stores, the library, the playground.  This make life while daddy is at work much more enjoyable.

I have successfully handled temper tantrums in the middle of the grocery store.  I have unopoligetically negotiated with my three year old in the doorway of a store.  I have a new found confidence in this whole parenting thing, and it is glorious.

One of the biggest, and best, changes I have noticed since getting my head right, is that my daughter has been showing more confidence.  There were times when I would notice anxiety in her, and blame myself.  But, ever since I started showing more confidence in my being, I can see it in her too.

Yes, she is getting older, but I honestly think a lot of it comes from how my own anxieties were rubbing off on her.

And although the medication obviously helps, since that is it’s job, there are other things that I have done that I believe have made a huge difference.

  1.  I started going to church, and studying the Bible.  I have begun to form a new relationship with God and Jesus, and this has given me a new hope.  I wake up every morning, and the first thing I do is my She Reads Truth devotional.  I start my morning with something so positive, how can the rest of my day go bad?
  2. I stopped comparing myself to other mom’s.  We are all going to do things differently.  Our children are all different.  What one likes, another will not.  Knowing, and being confident in the fact, that I am exactly what my children need has been the most freeing thing.
  3. I fake it til I make it.  I still get nervous about taking my kids to the store, but I pretend I’m not.  I tell myself I’m not.  And suddenly, it’s real.
  4. I have surrounded myself with inspirational women, both that I know in real life, and who I’ve never met on social media.  I weeded through my social media outlets, and got rid of anything that brought negative thoughts.  I’m working on doing the same in my real life, it just takes a little longer.
  5. I take time for me.  Before, when the kids would fall asleep I would spend hours on pinterest, or skimming through Facebook or Instagram.  Now, I read a book, have a cup of tea and watch my shows, have a conversation with my husband.

So, momma’s, there is hope.  If you are feeling lost, feeling like you will never get out of that dark hole, you will!  You will find yourself again.  But, in order to do that, you need to take your post partum mental health seriously.  If you are feeling like there may be something off, PLEASE contact a doctor, or therapist, or friend.  Reach out, and ask for help.  I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

And, if you are not suffering yourself, but know someone who is, or who could be, PLEASE reach out to them.  Express your concerns, in a gentle way.  Tell them you are there, SHOW them you are there.  This is not something that anyone should have to go through alone.

Finding Blessings in the Chaos

This morning I woke up feeling blessed.  I had one little curled up next to me in bed, and another curled up next to us in her toddler bed.  I couldn’t help but smile thinking about how amazing it is that God chose me to be their momma.  I reached over and rubbed the biggest little’s back, and kissed the littlest little’s head, and just took it in.

Fast forward thirty minutes.  I was in the kitchen trying to get everyone breakfast, being pulled in every direction.  The sun was shining in the window, a toy fell on the floor, a little brother was bugging a big sister.  “Moooooom!” was being yelled every ten seconds.  Some of that magic from earlier this morning started fading away.

M didn’t like the oatmeal with the strawberries, so I made scrambled eggs, that sat on the table untouched.  B threw his eggs all over the dining room and smeared strawberry juice all over the kitchen floor.  Some more of that magic from earlier this morning started fading away.

It’s so easy to feel so blessed in the early, quiet, peaceful hours of the day, but what I really need to work on, is feeling blessed in the midst of it.

Don’t get me wrong, there is not one second ever that I am not thrilled to be their momma, but there are seconds when I want to pull my hair out and scream.  There are seconds when they push me to the very edge of sanity.  And it is in those seconds that I want to be able to stop, look at them, and embrace the blessing of being their momma.

I can’t guarantee that I won’t lose my patience, or raise my voice.  What I can guarantee is that I will be trying my hardest to find the blessings in the chaos.

So, mommas, I want you to join me.  When you are feeling down and defeated.  When your children are pushing you.  When you think you might just snap if you hear “Mooooom!” one more time.  Find a blessing.  Remember why in the early, quiet, peaceful moments of the day it is so wonderful.  Remember that God gave you this amazing job of bringing up these amazing little people.  And feel blessed.

Our Journey in Home Pre-schooling

I am certainly not an expert, so take all of this with a grain of salt.  It wasn’t until recently that homeschooling crossed my radar, so I am still learning, and researching, but I thought pre-school would be a good place to start.  We still don’t know if it will go beyond that.  We don’t even know for sure that we won’t send our oldest to pre-k next year.  In all honesty, this will probably sound insane to a lot of people, but I am going to follow my children’s lead.  If they show interest in going to public school, I will send them.  If they show interest in homeschooling, I will homeschool.

For now though, I will share our journey, as much as possible, in case anyone else has this on their radar.

For the time being, I am flying by the seat of my pants.  Our daughter is (in 8 days) 3 years old, so we are using a lot of crafts, books, and hands on learning.  I honestly don’t know what children are supposed to learn when they are three, but what I do know is that my daughter is a sponge.  She soaks in information, and wants more.  She is always asking questions.  She is curious about everything, and forgets nothing.

After doing some research (aka Pinterest) I decided to stick with a theme of the week, and incorporate learning letters into it.  Some weeks are dedicated solely to letters, others are more about the theme.  We’re only on week 2, so I may tweak some things here and there as we move along.

We also aren’t really following a schedule at the moment.  Instead, we are adding learning into every day life.  My main goal, for now, is for her to learn through play.  I want it to be fun for her, not strict.  I never want her to stop being curious about everything.

M is loving it so far.  She has been calling me “mommy teacher” and refers to our dining room as “school”.

And, in case anyone is wondering, yes, I was hesitant at first in fear that she wouldn’t get enough socialization, but for now we get that at MOPS, and mommy and me playgroup, and at the playground.  Soon she will, hopefully, be starting Sunday school and sports, so I think she will be okay.

So, follow us on this new journey.  I will share more regarding the themes and activities with pictures, but as I said before, most of my inspiration came from Pinterest.

Are you a homeschooling mom?  Were you homeschooled?  I would love to hear from you!  I am so interested in the thought of it, but always get so overwhelmed, it would be wonderful to hear your first hand thoughts!

When Bed-Sharing Comes Full Circle

As I mentioned before, we are co-sleeping parents.  For my oldest, that turned into bed sharing.  She has slept between us in our bed, besides a short stint last summer, since she was 6 months old.  She will be three this month.

As much as I love cuddle buggin’ her, our queen size bed recently started getting a little tight.  We would ask her if she wanted to sleep in her own bed, she would say no, and that would be that.

A couple nights ago, as we were going to sleep, she was pushing on both of us, stating that her spot was not big enough, to which we replied “well, you would have a bigger spot if you would sleep in your own bed.”  She told us that she didn’t want to be in a different room, so, taking advice from some other momma’s, I suggested putting her bed in our room.  To my surprise, she actually loved this idea.

The next day, we moved her bed into our room, and for two nights now she has been happily sleeping in it.  Last night, when I got her all tucked in she said “Mommy, this bed fits me just right.”  Huh, imagine that…

So, what started as co-sleeping, and turned into bed-sharing, is now back to co-sleeping.  I know the next step will be moving into her own room, which weirdly enough makes me a little sad.  It may be my anxiety speaking, but there is something I really enjoy about waking up and seeing her peaceful sleeping face.

Either way, it makes me so proud that this is something that she is doing on her own.  I told her that last night before she went to sleep, and the smile she got on her face was reassurance that I might just be doing this parenting thing okay.

P.S.  Her brother, who has been sleeping in his crib, in his room, since he was 6 months old, ended up in bed between my husband and me in the middle of the night last night.  Luckily we are both on the same page in knowing that some day we will have more than enough time just the two of us, so for now we are just soaking them in.

Monday Motivation – Give Yourself A Break

In my experience, mom’s are always trying to do it all, for everyone else.  Very seldom do they take time for themselves.  And in the rare occurance that they do, they feel bad about it.

Well momma’s, I am telling you to give yourself a break.  In all things.

Have you been extra hard on yourself lately because you can’t keep up with it all?  Stop.  Go take a long bath, everything will still be there when you get done.

Have you been feeling down, and tired, and beaten?  Stop.  Call up a girl friend and get some coffee.  Chances are she will completely understand, and you will feel much better afterward.

Have you been feeling overwhelmed?  Stop.  Take a walk, or read a book, do something that relaxes you.

I know it is easier said than done, trust me, I do, but make sure you take some time for yourself.  It is not selfish, it is necessary.

Embracing New Seasons

I have a confession.  I am not a baby person.

I never have been.  Besides some little cousins, with pillows under my arm, Madeline was the first baby I ever held.  Hers were the first diapers I ever changed.

Since then, I have held a few more baby’s, and changed more than a few more diapers, but the truth is, unless I gave birth to the baby, I have close to no desire to hold it.  And I definitely don’t want to change it’s diaper.

I just don’t really get them.  They are miracles, yes, and that is wonderful, but the joy I have for being out of that stage is almost embarrasing.

That being said, give me all of the toddlers.  Yes, they talk back.  Yes, they throw temper tantrums, and sometimes make me want to pull my hair out, but I will take this all day long over all day feedings, every three hour wake ups, spit up down my shirt, and blow outs.

I can officially say that we have entered a new season, and I am loving every second of it.  Blake is no longer a baby.  He communicates with us (even though he only knows a handful of words), he understands when we ask him to do things (even though he doesn’t always do them), he eats with utensils (or flings food across the room with them), when I reach my hand down, he holds it.

Sometimes I will be walking behind him, watching his little head bounce around as he runs, and I can’t help smiling and thinking to myself “this is my life”.  I have two toddlers, and I love it.

I can’t guarantee that I will be welcoming every new season with open arms, that as they get older and need me less it won’t make me long for their little hands in mine, but for now I am just soaking it all in.

I am embracing the tantrums, because it means I have strong willed children who know what they want.

I am embracing the fighting, because in two seconds they will be giggling about something else.

I am embracing the mess, because my healthy, happy children made it.

I am embracing it all, even in the midst of it, even when I have to just shake my head and walk away, even when there is spaghetti sauce splattered on my dining room wall, because this is my life, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.