Tag Archives: mental health

Did I Meet My 2014 Goals?

Way back in January, I listed my goals for 2014. And then, like most people, I promptly forgot about them.

Today I went back to that post and, shockingly, I realized I had actually worked on these goals all year, even though I thought I had forgotten about them.

Maybe I didn’t do something each day to make myself feel better, but I did make it a regular practice. I dressed up more often, and found some makeup my skin could tolerate. I broke my jewelry out of retirement and tried a few new hairstyles. I finally settled again on an A-line bob which requires pretty minimal effort to look good. Sure, there were still jammie days, but there were also more days where I looked like my old self. Not too shabby there.

I worked on growing my blog all year, linking up with the gals at Ask Away Friday and Tuesday Ten. I took on some guest posts and started the Living Better series to showcase how we all are making choices to live better, no matter what life tosses our way. I also guest posted for a few blogger friends, as well as writing my first article for RheumatoidArthritis.com.

While I didn’t set a strict schedule for myself, I did settle into a nice routine to make the best use of my time and energy. I also created a planner for myself, which helped keep me organized when it came to doctors appointments, as well as scheduling blog posts and brainstorming ideas. This was a great change for me, and I’ll be using my planner in 2015 as well.

I think I made a lot of strides this year in living life while still managing my health. I started therapy, which is helping me work through many of my mental health triggers, as well as helping me find new coping tools. I’ve been better about practicing self-care and putting myself first. I cut out a lot of what was causing stress and chaos in our lives, and streamlined those things I couldn’t cut out completely. I learned how to set boundaries, which has been a huge thing for me. Mostly I’ve learned how to take care of me, all of me, and how taking care of me can help me to live a better life, even with chronic illness.

And last, but certainly not least, I LIVED. I made new friends and reconnected with old friends. I made memories with my son and my fiance. I tried things I wasn’t sure my body could handle, and tested my limits.

I’m proud of all I did this year. As much as 2014 was rough, and my health took some turns, I still accomplished a great deal and I’m very proud of that. I’m looking forward to 2015 and all it has to offer. I know it’ll be great because it will include our wedding, a visit from one of my dearest loves, and more memories with my son.

I hope you all will continue to follow along on this journey with me. I plan on continuing the Living Better series, as well as starting a newsletter. I’ll also share sneak peeks at the wedding planning here, and I’m sure there will be some pics of the big day. There will be more photos and recipes, life tips and stories about my journey and treatment. There will be more guest posts, and I’ll be visiting a few friends myself.

What were your goals for 2014? Did you meet them? What would you like to see happen here in 2015?

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Living Better: Parenting Through Pain

My gal Echo has graciously agreed to open up about parenting through pain with me and you all. She usually spends her days trying to hold on to what’s left of her sanity while raising and homeschooling two kiddos.

She can be found writing about her life on her blog The Domain of the Mad Mommy

 

When you are a parent, there are daily struggles.
When you are a parent, there are daily triumphs.
When you are a parent in pain, there is daily chaos.

Parenting is a hard enough job on it’s own. So much to do, so much to learn, so many sacrifices to make, so many benefits to reap. Add some pain into the mix and it can throw everything into turmoil!

Pain comes in different forms. There is physical pain, like the pain that I am experiencing with my mouth and multiple dental surgeries.

There is also mental and emotional pain. The pain that can’t always be seen, but is always there.

The emotional and mental pain, I believe, is more easily managed. Counseling, coping skills, natural remedies, medication, therapy. It takes a while to get into the “groove” of things, but it can happen.

Some of the coping skills I use to parent through my depression are:

*Blogging – Yes, blogging. I come online, I type shit out and I piss and moan to all of the people on the Internet that will read it. Does it help? It helps me. It helps me vent. It helps me process. It helps me laugh.
*Humor – They say that laughter is the best medicine and I happen to agree. I love taking the daily chaos and turmoil in my life and turning it into something that can make myself and someone else laugh!
*Drugs – Caffeine is my number one drug of choice! I need it, I love it, I wouldn’t be able to parent without it. I was on Prozac and Ambien for depression and insomnia, but I have weaned myself off of those and seem to be doing pretty good!
*Cooking/Eating – I love to go shopping, buy fancy ingredients, cook a fancy ass meal and then rub it in my extended family’s face! Like ha, see, see what I can do. Fuck you.

I also yell, swear, take a hot shower, take naps (when I can), eat ice cream, eat Taco Bell and cry. Yes, I cry. Sometimes, you just have to cry!

Physical pain is harder to navigate. When you are in physical pain, everything is amplified x100. Your kid’s whining sounds like a thousand babies crying. The chocolate that just stained your carpet, didn’t “just” stain the carpet, it stained your very soul! You feel like you haven’t slept in days and no one, no one is going to help you!

I’m a parent…
It’s never just one LEGO!
It’s like this:

It’s like this all the time!
It fucking hurts!

Here are some of the ways that I parent through physical pain:

*Let it go – Seriously, I tend to let a lot more slide because I am in pain. I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to get all worked up about the ALL of the toys being in the living-room.
*Sleep – I try to sleep when I can, where I can. Anytime, anywhere. If my kids are quiet and safe, I will sleep. Why? My body needs it to heal and I am less likely to bite someone’s head off when I am sleeping.

*Remedy – I try to remedy the pain in anyway possible! Seriously, I just want to stop hurting and when the doctors stop providing you with pain relief, you take things into your own hands!

It’s really about doing what you have to do for your kids and yourself. You have to parent through the pain because you have to be there for your kids. I know it sucks. Believe me. I deal with this shit everyday and although it sucks, royally, it is manageable. Give it time, make a plan and make sure that you have a strong support system. I’m not sure how I would cope if I didn’t have my husband supporting me and the support of the FABULOUS bloggers (my friends) that I have met online.

Don’t be afraid to reach out. Find a group. Online, offline, it doesn’t matter. Find someone you can talk to and not feel judged.

Write it down. Start a blog, write a journal. It really helps to get it out. To vent it. You don’t want to keep it bottled up.

Don’t be afraid to get help. Help for the emotional/mental pain and help for the physical pain. You do not need to deal with it alone!

Clearing Out For Lent, 40 Bags In 40 Days

Though I don’t consider myself a practicing Catholic, I’ve always tried to participate in Lent, to some extent.

I like the concept of evaluating my life and the things in it that I’ve given some level of importance. I’ve given up chocolate, soda, alcohol, even swearing. At the end of the 40 days, I often pick up the habit again, but usually to a smaller degree.

This year, I was struggling. With all that I’ve got on my plate right now, I knew I would be setting myself up for failure if I were to try to give up one of my few vices. When I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I rely on those small things for comfort. Knowing that I’m already in a fragile mental state, I knew that any sort of perceived failure would be more devastating than I could handle right now. So I told my fiance, no Lent for me this year. I promised to continue working on my self-care and my health and that would be enough.

Then today I stumbled across this link from Jana.

I was instantly intrigued. I don’t think we have 40 bags of stuff in this little apartment, but there definitely are areas of clutter that could use some attention. The more I thought about it, the more inspired I  became. I realized I could tailor this to fit my spoonie lifestyle and my current focus on mental health while still keeping with the spirit of the act. I giddily shared the link on my Facebook profile and asked if anyone would join me.

Y’all, that post blew up and I already have a few dear friends on board!

So this is my plan.

I will focus on one project each day. Today’s project is my kitchen, specifically the dirty dishes that are cluttering up the sink. Tomorrow’s project is my craft supplies. On days when I have appointments with my therapist, I will count that as “emotional decluttering.”

I will be listing items on Craigslist and Ebay when I can, and donating to my local shelter any items that might be appropriate. I will be counting daily chores because, as any spoonie can tell you, they can quickly pile up and become clutter. I will be keeping y’all updated on my progress, interspersed with posts about my path to a better me.

My goal is to focus on the things I am accomplishing versus what might not get done. This is a time to clear out some junk, both physically and mentally, and that means not adding more junk by beating myself up over “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”

I hope you all will join me. Think of how much lighter we’ll feel at the end of it all. Think of the lives you may change with your donations. Think of how happy you’ll be with that extra closet space. Think of the extra cash from selling off those odds and ends. Think of how happy your heart will feel when you accomplish a little something each day.

Fighting the Sinkhole

It’s like mental illness is this sinkhole.

You stand at the edge, and it’s just that pesky bastard Depression. But then your foot starts to slide, and Anxiety is pulling at your legs, dragging you into the mud. The compulsions and obsessions are clawing at your arms, your shoulders, drawing you in further until you’re overwhelmed and drowning.

That’s where I have been.

At first I was just at the edge, but I’d been there before, I knew what was coming. Even as the mud pulled at me, I fought to pull myself back up. I took my medication. I threw out a life line and called to find a therapist. And when the obsessions and compulsions became too much to bear, I found things I could focus on constructively.

Yesterday, with anxiety swirling around my head, I found a project and focused all my energy there.

For awhile now, I’ve been wanting some sort of day planner. Yes, I have a spiffy smartphone to keep track of my appointments and it works wonderfully. However, if I’m ON said phone trying to schedule another appointment, I need to see my week/month laid out in front of me so that I don’t double book myself.  My memory isn’t what it used to be.

My fiance happened to have an old planner lying around that he happily passed along to me. I set up the laptop and searched for printables to help me organize my life. I found PrintablePlanners.net where I was able to download and print blank planner pages specifically designed for the model I had. While my printer spewed out page after page, I dug out my scrapbook paper and crafting tools. I cut, glued, and hole-punched for the better part of the day.

dayplanner

 

The finished product might have taken me all day, but it was the most calming thing I’ve done all week. Not only was I able to focus all my anxiety, I now have a functional way to organize all of my appointments, my medications, and remember those pesky birthdays that keep sneaking up on me.

I also laminated printed copies of my medications, my allergies, doctor’s info, and emergency contacts to place in the front of the planner. Now I’m prepared for any sort of emergency or brain fog.

Depression and anxiety are still pulling at me, but I’ve got my arms wrapped around a nearby tree. I see my new therapist this Friday and I have hopes that she’ll be able to help me free my feet from the mud.

I’m That Girl

I’m the girl who is learning how to take care of herself, both body and mind.

I’m the girl who will do something just because you told her she couldn’t do it.

I’m the girl who believes butter, bacon, cheese, or chocolate can fix anything.

I’m the girl who knows when it’s time to seek the help of a therapist.

I’m the girl who doesn’t like roses or the color pink.

I’m the girl who loves care packages, both making them for others and receiving them.

I’m the girl who has recognized that her coping mechanisms are no longer working.

I’m the girl who cries at every single military home-coming/ceremony movie, commercial, or video. Every. Single. Time.

I’m the girl who loves quickly and fiercely.

I’m the girl who adores candles.

I’m the girl who is reaching out for help with one hand, while offering help with the other.

What kind of person are you?

**My gal Dawnie does this style of post on occasion and they always stick with me. Thanks for the inspiration, lovely lady. And for not kicking my butt when I steal your ideas 😉

#DayOfLight -It’s A Real Struggle

Today I’m joining up with my gal Andrea and other awesome bloggers for #DayOfLight

Depression is a very real thing, yo.

And for those of us battling chronic illness, it’s almost a required buddy. On nearly every message board, forum, and website for chronic illness there are studies quoted showing how we are at a higher risk for depression.

I battled depression well before my diagnosis. As a young divorcee, I was overwhelmed and hit a point so low, I attempted to take my own life. Fortunately, I failed. I confided in family members and I got help. I’m one of the lucky ones. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle.

Many of you know that we lost my oldest step-brother to suicide almost six years ago. Losing him, I made a renewed promise to myself and to my loved ones- I would continue to seek mental health support and I would never make another attempt on my life. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle.

Because depression doesn’t just go away.

It’s a daily choice to take care of myself, not just physically, but mentally.  Some days are easy, some days are hard. Some days I just want to hide in my bed and forget the world exists.

Because depression isn’t just going to disappear, I work with my doctors to stay on top of my care. Yes, I take medication. I know that’s not the answer for everyone, but it’s what works for me. I also do yoga. It took a long time to find what works for me, and on any given day, what I need can differ. The important thing is that you are aware of how you’re feeling and you take that time for yourself, whatever it is.

And REACH OUT.

Talk to your doctor. Or your family. Or your best friend. Talk to me. I’m not a doctor and I don’t pretend to be a medical professional, but I can listen. I can hold your hand (even virtually) while you take the steps needed to get help.

You are not weak. It is not giving up or giving in.

You are not alone.